Plenty of glitz and glamour have been on view over the past few days. The build-up to the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) has been unprecedented for what is essentially a State Twenty20 competition featuring local cricketers.
The success of the tournament, beginning Wednesday evening at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium when Chepauk Super Gillies takes on Tuti Patriots, will depend on the quality of cricket played.
Hype can only carry a tournament so far. Eventually, player performances and intensity of the duels will determine TNPL’s future.
The enthusiasm of the franchise owners, who have poured in large amounts of money, will have to be matched by commitment from some of the senior India and State cricketers as and when they get an opportunity to play in the competition.
By now, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) is resigned to the fact that outstation cricketers will not figure in the tournament.
And there has been no word from the BCCI so far whether Tamil Nadu cricketers playing in the ongoing Duleep Trophy will be available for the TNPL as and when they are not playing in the XI.
A competition of this nature will always evoke strong reactions. The best aspect of the TNPL is that the tournament takes cricket to the districts, with Tirunelveli and Dindigul being two of the three venues.
The TNPL is sure to evoke considerable interest in the districts.
Spectators will get an opportunity to watch action-packed matches under lights, involving popular State players.
The event will certainly create a buzz in the smaller centres.
It is debatable whether a Twenty20 competition will enable cricketers to develop their skills for the longer format where Tamil Nadu, which failed to qualify for the knock-out stage of the Ranji Trophy last season, faces a crisis.
But what the TNPL will do is provide the youngsters with a platform in front of a huge television audience. Performances, both with the bat and the ball, will get noticed. They will deal better with pressure situations. Some of the cricketers may get picked for the IPL; talent scouts from the different IPL franchises are sure to be doing the rounds.
The young players, particularly from the districts, will get a valuable chance to share the dressing room, travel, practise and learn from some of the leading State cricketers.
Guiding them as coaches and mentors will be former State stars such as Hemang Badani and former international stars like Lance Klusener, Michael Bevan and Brett Lee. Interestingly, former India opener V.B. Chandrasekar owns one of the franchises. There are chances that a few raw talents from the districts could emerge from the tournament.
The TNPL could widen the reach of the game in the State. Importantly, the TNCA, which has emerged considerably richer after launching the tournament, has to ensure that it strikes a balance between the TNPL and retaining focus on cricket’s lifeline, its first class competitions.
Wednesday’s contest under the lights promises to be interesting.
Tuti Patriots, led by the ebullient Dinesh Karthik and featuring former India paceman L. Balaji, has the firepower to make a winning start.
Chepauk Super Gillies, captained by the often explosive R. Sathish and possessing multi-dimensional cricketers like Vasanth Saravanan, is a well balanced outfit too. The match begins at 6.50 p.m.