'I wonder if IPL is even cricket': Ravichandran Ashwin makes a big statement on the world's top league | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Star India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has expressed his views on the immense growth of the IPL, stating that the tournament has become so “huge” that cricket sometimes takes a backseat.
Ashwin highlighted the challenges faced by players in managing their time between training sessions and advertisement shoots during the two-month-long competition.He reflected on the remarkable evolution of the IPL since its inception in 2008 and emphasised the demanding nature of the player’s lifestyle on the road during the tournament.
“As a youngster coming into the IPL, I was only looking to learn from the big stars, I did not think about how the IPL would look 10 years down the line. I can say that, having been in the IPL for so many seasons, the IPL is huge,” he said on the Club Prairie Fire podcast.
“Sometimes I wonder if IPL is even cricket, because sport takes a backstage (during IPL). It’s so huge. We do end up practising in advertisement shoots and sets! That’s where the IPL has gotten to,” said Ashwin, who is an important member of the Rajasthan Royals squad.
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The 37-year-old, who achieved the milestone of 500 Test wickets recently, commenced his IPL journey with the Chennai Super Kings. His impressive performances in the IPL played a crucial role in earning him opportunities to represent India across formats.
In 2022, the IPL media rights were secured for a staggering Rs 48,390 crore for a five-year cycle, solidifying its position as the second most valuable league in the sporting world in terms of per-match value, only behind the NFL. This astronomical figure surpassed renowned leagues such as the English Premier League, NBA, and Major League Baseball.
Ashwin spoke about his early days in the IPL and how the event exceeded all expectations.
“No one envisaged the kind of growth that the IPL has had. I still remember a conversation I had with Scott Styris when we were both at CSK. He told me that when he was playing for the Deccan Chargers in the initial seasons of IPL, he did not think the IPL would last for more than two-three years.
“Initially, there was a big influx of money,” Ashwin said on the podcast hosted by former England captain Michael Vaughan and Australian great Adam Gilchrist.
The IPL’s profile has been further elevated by the astronomical deals secured by players during auctions. In the latest auction, Australian pacer Mitchell Starc made headlines by clinching a record deal worth Rs 24.74 crore with the Kolkata Knight Riders. This significant acquisition underscores the league’s ability to attract top-tier talent and solidifies its status as one of the most lucrative and sought-after cricket tournaments globally.
“Look, over the years you’d think that the IPL is one tournament that is largely won at the auctions. I believe the auctions are a very important facet of this league, but the beauty of the IPL is that franchises have evolved into getting their teams right.
“There’s no one way to skin a cat. No one player is bigger than the team. No one slot is bigger than others. The teams invest wisely,” said Ashwin who has also represented Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals in the IPL.
(With PTI inputs)

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