Cape Town: The so-called “strategy breaks” lasting seven-and-half minutes in each innings played in the ongoing IPL has generated heated controversy with players and coaches saying it was a distraction and affects the flow of the match.
“Yes, we have done well in our last match but I think the strategy breaks are hampering the momentum of a team,” Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar said.
“The seven-and-half minute breaks are a bit too long,” he observed.
Former player and ex-selector V.B. Chandrasekar, who heads Chennai Super Kings’ cricket operations, is also far from amused with the break.
“The 7-1/2 minute break after 10 overs is quite a distraction and comes in the way of valuable momentum...” Chandrasekar said.
Even though IPL commissioner Lalit Modi has been insisting that the break was introduced to allow teams to strategise, most believe the innovation was aimed at providing the broadcaster extra slots for commercials.
Modi’s argument was that since the teams wasted lot of time strategising, most of the matches in IPL’s inaugural edition stretched beyond schedule. So, Modi argued, introducing the breaks would allow them to complete their strategising in the scheduled time and get on with the match.
Former South African Board president Ali Bacher, however, had no doubt that the breaks were introduced solely for commercial benefits.
“The reality now is that cricket is a highly commercial entity. There is big money in cricket today, and much of it is emanating from India. The organisers are not only aiming to provide a fantastic spectacle for the spectators, but they are also there to maximise the revenues for the game,” he said.
Bacher, however, didn’t see anything wrong with that.
“You can’t fault them on that. The problem they have is, because of the shortened version of the game the number of ad breaks are less as compared to the one-dayers and Tests. So they are trying to get more airtime for more commercial ads to be placed,” he added.
On the other hand, Kings XI Punjab coach Tom Moody felt the break directly affected his team’s performance in the rain-marred match against the Delhi Daredevils on Sunday.
“We had the momentum and we had seven and a half minutes to lose it,” Moody said.
“It was the perfect time for Daniel Vettori to come on and secure the momentum back in favour of Delhi,” the Australian said.
Bangalore Royal Challengers coach Ray Jennings, meanwhile, is more worried about the break’s effect on the viwers, who -- he feared -- might lose interest in the match.
“Spectators are the ones they need to be keeping their focus on during these breaks. What you need to do is check if this break is going to keep the spectators interested, because what do they do during these minutes?” Jennings asked.
Instead of airing commercials, Jennings suggested the time could be used otherwise to sustain viwers’ interest.
“The organisers could think of adding value to the entertainment by, maybe, doing interviews with four or five players in the change rooms, which can then be shown during these intervals. This is an opportunity for the officials to see this as a moment to catch up with people, and give them something they cannot get hold of: signing autographs or something” Jennings said.
Star spinner Harbhajan Singh also gave a thumbs down to the move and said, “I don’t think I am very happy with it. At times, when you are bowling well, you just lose your rhythm during the strategy breaks.”
Former India spearhead Javagal Srinath had more or less the same thing to say about it.
“Technically, for the player it could be an advantage or disadvantage: if your team is not doing well, the break is very welcome as that helps stop the momentum of the opponents. But if your team is doing well, it may be seen as a hindrance, where you could lose your advantage.
“It is a new experiment and remains to be seen how it is expected. If it is a real pain, some changes may be carried out,” Srinath said.
Steve Elworthy, Tournament director of ICC World Twenty20, was not sure behind the reasons and hinted he was not impressed.
“I am not sure of the reasons behind it; whether it is commercial or for cricket-playing reasons. From our perspective, the idea is that the game needs to have that momentum. It needs to keep the pace and the momentum going. The playing conditions don’t stipulate for a break in this World Twenty20, and I would like to see the game continue, rather than being broken up all over,” he said.