The Indian Premier League (IPL) is being perceived as the beginning of a lucrative new era for cricket, but former India captain Rahul Dravid says its success and impact on the game will depend on how it produces top class cricket in the first year.
"IPL is something new. It is going to be quite exciting and in the first year there is going to be a lot of interest. Obviously after that, it is really going to depend on how it picks up. I think the quality of cricket is important," Dravid told PTI in an exclusive interview.
"Because, people who come to watch (the matches) are going to expect good standard of cricket. At the end of the day, this (good cricket) is what would make IPL a success or failure. It is upto the players, both domestic and international, to provide that," the captain of Royal Challengers, the Bangalore team owned by business tycoon Vijay Mallya.
Asked if the IPL was good for cricket in the long run, Dravid said "I think only time will tell." The Bangalore icon player, who would earn more than Rs 4 crore in the first season from a maximum 10 matches, refused to buy the argument that IPL was all about money and said people should look at whether it gives the fans entertainment and good quality cricket.
"It is going to be about cricket. People want to see good standard of cricket. At the end of the day, it (good cricket) is going to be the most important," he said when asked whether money or cricket was at the frorefront in the IPL.
Dravid also feels that the price of players at the auction on Wednesday was not the true reflection of the capability of a player and the "limitations and certain rules" of the auction was the reason why a big star like Ricky Ponting less than others.
"I don't think you have to look at what one player got at the auction and compare it with other players and say it is the actual value or performance level of the player based on what he got at the auction. Because the auction had certain rules, limitations and certain combinations. So, I don't think you can judge it (the worth of a player) like that."
The great merit of the IPL, according to Dravid, was the opportunity the domestic players, other than the BCCI-contracted players, would get by rubbing shoulders with some great players in the 44-day competition to be played in Twenty20 format.
"IPL is a domestic competition and it is about giving Indian players an opportunity to play in the big stage with some great players in the world," Dravid said.
Explaining how the IPL would benefit the players of the domestic circuit, he said, "In the playing XI, there will be seven Indian players and apart from the 35-40 BCCI-contracted players (like me), there will be at least 40-50 other domestic players in the eight teams."
"I am sure out of this 40-50 domestic players, 15-20 are going to get a chance to be in the first XI and play with or against some great players. That itself should be exciting," Dravid said.
"So, it is a domestic competition with international flavour and that is what we should not forget," he added. Dravid was also happy that the domestic circuit has more money now than it had earlier.
"I think there is quite a lot of money in domestic cricket as compared to earlier days. What the boys are being paid now for playing Ranji Trophy is lot more than paid five years ago. But, we need to make domestic cricket more professional and we have to encourage cricketers playing in domestic circuit," he added.