IPL ratings under the hammer

There is no need for alarm bells just yet, but the viewing public are not quite in a tizzy with the IPL as they were in seasons past.

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At a time when his hubris was out of control, Lalit Modi famously said the Indian Premier League was recession-proof. Like the empire builders who thought the sun would never set on them, Modi and his cohorts assumed that the IPL would be unstoppable.

There is no need for alarm bells just yet, but the viewing public are not quite in a tizzy as they were in seasons past.

ESPNCricinfo studied the television ratings for the first 26 games and found they were down 21.99 per cent on average compared to 2010. Coupled with some grounds being far from full, you have a scenario that should give Modi's successors plenty to think about.

India's World Cup win has not helped. After that euphoria, fans have struggled to lift themselves for these intercity skirmishes. The IPL cause has been hurt further by the fact that most squads are unrecognisable from those that played last season.

A Kings XI Punjab fan looking for Yuvraj Singh will now find him with the Pune Warriors. A Bangalore admirer of Rahul Dravid now has to watch his hero in Rajasthan Royals' colours. Gautam Gambhir, the quintessential Delhi cricketer, captains the Kolkata Knight Riders.

It is all very confusing and a sign that the auction culture cannot continue indefinitely. Tradition, like a great side, has to be built slowly. Having some sort of local core also enables supporters to identify with a team.

It would also help if the broadcasters emphasised the cricket rather than the celebrities trying to hitch their wagons to the game.

When your mid-match analysis consists of giggling actors, it is hard to convince people that they should take the games seriously.