IPL II set to escape economic slowdown

There have been suggestions that global recession will leave its impact on the second edition of IPL. I am prepared to stick my neck out and suggest that it will be bigger – and hopefully, better – than the inaugural edition. There were many skeptics even the last time around but I said months before the first ball was bowled that IPL would be a runaway hit.
IPL was the platform that launched the likes of Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja, Manpreet Singh Gony and Dhawal Kulkarni into the higher echelons of cricket. There is no reason why IPL II cannot help discover more such talent while sharpening the skills of those who have already made it big.
As a concept, IPL caught the fancy of many Indians who hadn’t been to a game of cricket in their lives but enjoyed spending evenings watching intense contests that someone like Shane Warne says was an unbelievable experience, quite unlike anything else in his playing career. I can make out that cities are already bracing themselves up to welcome IPL II.There have been some reports on how franchises are thinking of downsizing the strength of their teams; I can also imagine that the host broadcaster will be worried a bit about the impact of the economic downturn on the advertising revenue; but all this will not be enough to affect the quality of cricket or the intensity of competition.
One of the critical components of modern management techniques is to optimise staff strength and this can lead to some downsizing since franchises went about the task of hiring hurriedly and excitedly. There is no doubt that the franchises will learn from last year’s experience and emerge smarter – and leaner.
Mumbai Indians, for example, had as many as 28 cricketers on its rolls last season and fielded as many as 24 in the 14 matches. As many as 15 played six or fewer games and it is clear that the management will look to prune the squad down. Kings XI Punjab is another side that signed up 27 players; only 21 took the field in 15 matches and as many as 11 played five or fewer games.
It is a given that teams will borrow from corporate life and learn to be smart. But it is important that IPL ensures that when the franchises downsize, they stick to the basic rules laid down last year – a maximum of eight overseas players (raised to 10 now), a minimum of four under-22 cricketers and at least four players from the designated catchment areas of the teams.
It is important that the junior – and seemingly less important – cricketers are afforded some kind of protection when the teams begin taking a hard look at the staff strength. A big spin off last season was the fact that many young players got to learn a great deal simply by interacting with legends in the dressing room. Such opportunities must not be curtailed. Not even a wee bit.
Having said that, I reckon this will be the only downsizing we are likely to see in IPL. I will be quite surprised if we do not see it grow bigger and stronger. So what if some Pakistani players are unlikely to be free to travel to India during the competition? And so what if some English cricketers are available only for a short while?
IPL, as most discovered last year, is not just about wild slogging but a format that makes intense demands of its players. Any human endeavour that encompasses body, mind and spirit makes for a heady potion for those who are destined to merely watch it. And that is precisely why IPL II will a bigger hit than the inaugural edition was.