When the movie Million Dollar Arm was released, a lot of people (especially us, sports enthusiasts) wanted to know the true story of how our local cricketers made it to the United States to play baseball. For those of you who haven’t heard the tale, you read the cricket to baseball part right.
In the biopic, sports agent J.B. Bernstein makes a last-ditch effort to save his career by heading to India in search of a cricket player he can groom to be a major league star. His belief was that if a bowler in cricket can send a ball across the pitch at 93 miles per hour, why not adapt that ability into a different sport.
And while we can admire the movie, the fact remains that this was not just a one-off occurrence. Cricket has grown a long way as an individual game, but like in the movie, it has open the doors to exploring other sports within and out of the country as well. It has made India famous as a sporting destination.
As far as Hollywood is concerned, cricket gave the U.S. two new foreign players, but the adaptation of the sport is a little different in our own country. It caters to the administration of the sport a little more than the game itself.
In the eight years of its existence, the Indian Premier League (IPL), even with all the controversies, has been one of the most successful domestic tournaments across the globe with the best known international and Indian players fighting for the title every year. And its success has inspired other sports to adopt a similar structure. Thus, the dawn of the Indian Super League (ISL).
Now, football has never been the most popular sport in India, even though, we follow every other league around the world. So an IPL style tournament was just what this sport needed. A bit of glamour, the celebrity factor, which includes teams being owned by our favorite Bollywood stars and cricketers (yes, we want to see them everywhere) and of course, a short three month tournament to entertain us while we have our dinner.
It doesn’t end here, Mahesh Bhupathi has gone one step further and adopted this format into an international tournament. The International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) was born, a league, which brings together current champions, tennis legends and upcoming talent in a format that, until now, was never seen before. Teams are owned by Asian cities and New Delhi will play host for the Indian Aces. Exciting feature in this tournament include innovations like the 5-minute shoot out, which will replace the 7 point standard tie breaker. Whats more, the league will see super stars like Rafael Nadal (captain of the Indian Aces for 2015), Roger Federer, Sania Mirza, Maria Sharapova, Leander Paes and other legends in the game. We can assure you that everyone is waiting for the ultimate Federer v Nadal clash in New Delhi this December.
Now let’s not forget about Hockey, especially after our national men and women teams have qualified for the Olympics in Rio. India will host the Hockey World League finals, which will feature Australia, Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Argentina, Canada and India. This event will give us that glimpse of team India we need to see while we eagerly wait for Rio2016.
And, while all these leagues have a ready-made script to inspire another Hollywood/ Bollywood blockbuster, cricket is in no way taking a backseat. Our ‘men in blue’ are undergoing a change with a new-age team under the leadership of Virat Kohli being currently formed. The boys-to-men team have just enjoyed success in a test series in Sri Lanka after 22 years and are now gearing up to take on South Africa in a home series followed by a tour to Australia in January 2016. So let’s see if this team can take on the big boys in international cricket.
There you have it, our festival of sports begins this Diwali and we have a lot to look forward to until Christmas. We hope you enjoy them as much as we will.
ISL – Oct. 3rd to Dec. 20th (Across India)
IPTL – Dec. 6th – 8th (India Leg – New Delhi)
Hockey World League – 27th Nov. – Dec. 6th (Raipur, Chhattisgarh)
India v South Africa – September – December (Across India)
– By Adrian Remedios