Last weekend presented a great offering of international sport that has re-enforced my belief that when quality is complimented by tension, anticipation and sheer excitement, there is no better way of being entertained. Individual skill and talent can be admired across many different art forms, but when it is supported by the intense competition sport presents, the drama is intoxicating.
At Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday, the atmosphere was electric as the UEFA Champions' League final pitched the might of Manchester United against the brilliance of Barcelona at one of soccer's showpiece occasions.The Barcelona players, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta (I could go on) were simply awesome and their team were worthy 3-1 winners. As a sports fan, the chance to witness such skill and prowess, either inside the stadium or on TV, rates as nothing less than a privilege.
In Monaco, a day later, Formula One's race around the famous streets, displayed daring, bravery, supreme driving talent and all the glitz and glamour of a very special package. It will be a proud day when the teams arrive in New Delhi for the first ever Grand Prix of India in October. And if you add to all that, the conclusion of IPL 4; a competition that is so obviously closest to my heart, then it was, in my opinion, a great weekend. I send my congratulations to the players of Chennai Super Kings for their 58-run victory over the Royal Challengers Bangalore and in particular to Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay whose partnership of 159 was a CSK record and the cornerstone of their win.
Ironically, Chris Gayle's duck in the final was an exception in an exceptional, personal season. His consistent ability to dominate bowling attacks with the bat and his own, miserly bowling earned him the tournament's Golden Player award. Throughout the tournament, Gayle and a succession of experienced, global stars were supplemented by a wealth of new talent that reflects superbly on the IPL structure and promises much for the future of the game as a whole. And that's the secret... Its all about quality. Whether you talk about soccer, motor sport, cricket or any other form of entertainment, sporting or otherwise, public demand and commercial reward are both served by presenting the best there is, in the best way possible.
I am proud to have established a tournament that earned an immediate reputation for sporting excellence and terrific entertainment in equal measure and IPL 4 was swept along on the momentum we achieved. But the IPL cannot now sit back and relax just because the final is over. It has to plan for the future and confront the issues that IPL 4 produced, such as unwanted seats during the league stage and a downturn in overall viewing interest across the global TV networks.
If it doesn't do that, the queue of other sports waiting to present their own version of excitement and anticipation to a waiting world will steal a march. And the best, long-term sporting opportunity India has ever had will be firmly on the back foot. Remember, the old saying. "Prevention is better than cure."