Thursday, May 29, 2008

Indian Premier League

Twice over the last month I've woken up early and caught the end of a broadcast from the Indian Premier League, the new cricket tournament that seems set to take over the sport. The games have been entertaining, although inconvenient to watch from my time zone unless insomnia is involved.

The IPL uses the 20-20 format, which reduces cricket games to 120 balls per side and a total time of three hours. Cricket becomes strikingly similar to baseball when compressed to a comparable time scale. About half the shots are played as big, cross-batted swings, rather than the defensive vertical strokes that predominate in test (5 day) cricket. Also, a dot ball (no runs scored from a single delivery) becomes a positive outcome for the fielding team, as opposed to a neutral outcome in test cricket.

There was one other parallel to American baseball. Virtually all the support, sponsorship and TV money for the IPL comes from India, and a majority of the players are Indian. However a significant minority of top players hail from smaller, more obscure island countries, although in cricket these are Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka as opposed to the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

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