The Karnataka State Cricket Association’s decision to conduct a Twenty20 tournament called the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) has split cricketers. Former Test match legends like Erapalli Prasanna and Syed Kirmani think that it is a step in the right direction and that it will help “rural talent”. Stars like Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid, who have played the IPL, Tests and ODIs, are not quite so cock-a-hoop.
Indeed, in a cricketing establishment where the only thing that drives cricketers and organisers is the rustle of the rupee and being on the right side of the turnstile, Kumble has bravely stuck his neck out against KPL, the brainchild of Srikandatta Wodeyar and Brijesh Patel. Kumble says it is “not a positive or healthy development”, “that in its present form it would allow a backdoor entry to people not passionate about cricket.”
“What is the KPL about? What is the point of the whole exercise?” Kumble has said. “Why isn’t the KSCA itself organising it? Why is it going in for private team franchises when the costs are so moderate?”
At one level, is the very real danger of forces beyond the boundary—real estate mafia, underworld dons, politicians, film stars, liquor dons—gaining a stranglehold over the game, with all its attendant miseries. Mutthappa Rai, among others, wants a piece of the cake. At another level, is the future of Karnataka cricket if all it starts producing from the ground-up are slam-bang cricketers, untrained for the longer version of the game.
Question: Is KPL a good idea or not? Will it help the quality of Karnataka cricket, and thus Indian cricket? If the idea is to promote mofussil talent, will it help to play all the matches in Bangalore? If the idea is to promote cricket, why isn’t the cash-flush KSCA conducting its league tournaments properly? Will TV audiences and spectators take to the KPL like they do the IPL? Will the big bucks roll in or is the KSCA killing the goose?