The IPL commences this week in the UAE with 8 teams carrying from where they left. There was an unsavory break in the summer due to the second wave of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. However, the BCCI and the teams have decided to go ahead with the tournament in UAE. With the onset of IPL, young and old of the country will be gripped with the cricket fever that is about to take over. It is a festival that is followed religiously across the length and breadth of the country irrespective of the social strata.
The IPL has completed 13 years since its inception. It has been path-breaking in every possible way one can imagine. It has revolutionized the way cricket is perceived by the masses. It has brought glamour to the sport and made it attractive for all of its stakeholders. Thanks to IPL, today BCCI is the most cash-rich cricket board. The money generated from IPL also helps BCCI to invest in grassroots facilities and infrastructure.
In addition to all of the aforementioned benefits, one thing that the IPL has done is that it has provided a new lease of life to youngsters to wanted to pursue cricket in this country. At the international level, players were well paid however, at the entry-level, the players found it very difficult to make ends meet.
Players from underprivileged backgrounds and from tier-2 and 3 cities could not dream to take up cricket and play it professionally because of the low emoluments and income options. IPL has completely changed this for the youngsters. The corporatization of the game has brought in plenty of capital which has allowed huge paychecks for youngsters with talent. Today there are many players who are yet to make an international debut but are making huge money playing the IPL and are financially secure.
One such case of financial emancipation is Sheldon Jackson in KKR. He was from an extremely humble background and found it tough to make a living by playing the game. He contemplated leaving the sport before getting a call up for IPL at the age of 25. He said, “At the age of 25, I thought of giving cricket up totally. I was in the Ranji Trophy squad for five years without playing a single match. Then a very, very close friend of mine, named Mr. Shapath Shah, said that ‘You have worked all these years very hard, give yourself another year, wait for another year, if nothing works you can come and work in my factory. I’ll give you a job but give yourself another year,”
However, the year 2015-16 turned his life. He was the fifth-highest run-scorer in Ranji Trophy that season. He scored 4 centuries in that calendar year. The IPL contract too came knocking on the door and he got a chance to play for KKR. He played his first match in 2017 against Delhi Capitals. He realized that had to focus on cricket and there was nothing else that he could do. If not cricket, he had to make a living by the way of selling panipuri by the road.