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The cricket will take centre stage

The start of the Indian Premier League is the second major event to hit cricket over the past few decades.

The first was when Kerry Packer broke ranks with those running the game, set-up his own "Super Tests" and eventually the "pyjama" game, which has become so popular around the world.

Players were being paid a pittance then before Packer arrived on the scene and before long the top players were earning their just rewards.

Now the Board of Control for Cricket in India start their own revolution today with their much-publicised Indian Premier League which has, unlike Packer, the backing of every cricket nation in the world, has new money, which could eventually see players earning more for their appearances in the Test and One-day International arena.

There's worldwide television coverage, there's glitz and glamour by the way of show biz entertainment, and the most important commodity is that there are players here, who are at present the top stars around the world.

Rickey Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Daniel Vettori, Adam Gilchrist, Graeme Smith, Makhaya Ntini, Shoaib Malik to name but a few who will grace the cricket field of India in different outfits from their very own national colours.

They will play alongside stars from different countries and that will be a challenge for many in the six-week event.

It's all happening in India. Everyone is excited.

The expectations - not unusual - are very high and the Lalit Modi-run India Premier will be the talking point of the millions in the cricket-mad sub-continent.

Eight teams - Mumbai Indian, Kings XI Punjab, Royal Challengers, Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Dare Devils, Deccan Chargers and Rajasthan Royals - will participate in this mega event which has attracted all the top officials including the International Cricket Council's top brass, the chief executives and the presidents plus the marketing arms of the various cricketing bodies around the world.

There will be a 45-minute opening ceremony today which will see all eight captains of the franchises jointly read out a pledge re-affirming the IPL's faith in the spirit of cricket in front of an expected capacity crowd.

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