This book reads like a tribute to Lalit Modi, the commissioner of Indian Premier League (IPL) thriving on Kafkaesque and crisis solutions. He successfully organised cricket’s most expensive league within months in 2008. Therefore, he had no qualms in shifting its venue for season two to South Africa within a month in 2009. Nothing seemed impossible for Modi who kept a brave and smiling face throughout the controversy in March 2009.
But how the key players, fans, observers and experts reacted shows that IPL is much bigger than we thought it to be. Despite Home Minister P Chidambaram’s not very helpful attitude in providing security forces, the IPL decided to go ahead. Here the authors praise the BJP-ruled states that agreed to hold IPL, unlike the Congress-ruled and non-BJP states who opposed them. “It now became a Congressmen versus BJP issue and acquired several political overtones.”
The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi criticised Chidambaram and offered to host the matches in his state and Arun Jaitley hinted that it was a shame that India had refused to host IPL. When Chidambaram stated that Jaitley had a “penchant for exaggeration”, Jaitley’s repartee was, “When Chidambaram was the Finance Minister, our investments were not safe; now that he is the Home Minister, the nation’s security is not safe.”
Lalit Modi’s first preference was South Africa as the host country for purely commercial and egoistical reasons. The English counties were asking for too much money. But above everything was the king-size ego of Lalit Modi, who thought about nothing but the success of the tournament. “Nothing, not the ICC or other powerful cricket boards, nor national and security interests, nor powerful politicians, would stop him or even slow him down. He was a bull who was out to destroy all China in the established sports, business and political institutions — in India and globally. Modi was a man possessed, the magic wand, which could make billions of dollars appear out of nowhere.”
In its second season the IPL became a total tamasha with glitz and glamour accompanying cricket. Nothing proved this better than the second auction held to sell over 50 foreign players on February 6, 2009, just over two months before the IPL matches.
The book contains not only the above-mentioned information but also provides answers to questions like: Was Lalit Modi the first to think of an idea like the IPL tournament? Was it not Madhavrao Scindia who first thought of it and upgraded the stadium in Gwalior before he fell into the evil hands of death? Did the IPL committee follow a transparent process to choose the eight city franchise owners? What is the extent of interference by team owners in cricketing decisions? How have big bucks and bigger business egos changed the game of cricket? What were the rags-to-riches stories during the tournament’s first season? What is the socio-economic impact of IPL on Indian society? Was Shane Warne really the ‘strategic’ captain that he is believed to be? How did Modi ‘twist’ the system to push through IPL in 2009?
This book tells the tale of not only the organisers, the teams, the players – famous and obscure, aged and youthful, but describes the business of sports, tension and entertainment, glamour and rags-to-riches stories. It will hold a cricket-crazy fan glued to it.
(Roli Books Pvt Ltd, M-75, Greater Kailash-II Market, New Delhi-110 048.)