File photo of Ravichandran Ashwin.

File photo of Ravichandran Ashwin.
| Photo Credit: AP

Premier India spinner R Ashwin reckons the IPL has grown so “huge” that at times cricket itself takes a backseat with players finding it hard to juggle between training and advertisement shoots.

Ashwin spoke about the meteoric rise of the IPL since its inception in 2008 and how tough life on the road for a player can be over the course of the two-month long competition.

“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 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.

The 37-year-old, who recently completed 500 Test wickets, started his IPL career with Chennai Super Kings and that led to him wearing the coveted India cap across formats.

Back in 2022, the IPL media rights were sold for a whopping Rs 48,390 crore for a five-year cycle, making it the second biggest league in the sporting world in terms of per match value after NFL, leaving behind the likes of 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.

Players bagging astronomical deals at the auction has also added significantly to the profile of the IPL. At the latest auction, Australian pacer Mitchell Starc fetched a record Rs 24.74 crore deal from Kolkata Knight Riders.

“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.


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