October 18, 2009

Champions League 2009


Andrew Hughes

The scoop: when it finally came, it didn’t come off © Getty Images

Jimi Hendrix first set light to his guitar at the end of a gig in March 1967. The crowd loved it so much he started to do it regularly. It soon became such a part of his act that if he didn’t take a cigarette lighter to his Stratocaster, the paying public felt short-changed. Now maybe it is the wild hair, the earring or the outrageous talent, but Tillakaratne Dilshan is starting to remind me of Hendrix. Yes, yes, yes, we were all thinking, as he nudged and tapped his first few balls around today, that’s all very well, but when’s he going to do the funny down-on-one-knee scoopy thingy? That’s what we’ve paid our money for. But when he finally pulled out the party piece, it proved his undoing. So is he going to feel obliged to do it every time? Or could he come up with another gimmick to trump the Scoop? Maybe he could set fire to his bat?

Dilshan couldn’t save Delhi yesterday and nor could Virender Sehwag, despite some trademark carnage, which, as ever, was either going to end in a new batting record or a catch on the boundary. After 47 effortless runs, he holed out, and so the sole remaining IPL franchise crashed out of the Champions League.

In fact, the evening game was something of a cricketing Götterdämmerung in which the last two Indian teams failed to do the sensible thing, instead taking one another down like two stubborn elephants squabbling over a bag of peanuts whilst the rope bridge they are both standing on starts to fray.

It may have come as a surprise to the cynically minded, but it appeared that Bangalore really wanted to win, despite having been effectively dumped out of the tournament by Victoria’s defeat earlier in the day. Little Roelof van der Merwe spent most of his time in the field either covering his face with his hands in disbelief or roaring like a 10-year-old doing his fiercest African lion impression. A made-up team? Only in it for the money? Don’t you believe it.

The afternoon match was a more frenetic event. Maybe it was the delayed start, the fewer overs, the doubts over the team line-ups, or the two wickets in the first over, but I soon felt exhausted. It was like one of those mornings when you are late for work, the phone is ringing, you can’t find your keys and everything is a rush. For three-quarters of the 33 overs it was a thunderous, ugly but exhilarating tussle. The Cobras won and were the better team, but somehow Victoria made more of an impression. There is nothing half-hearted about them. They bat like butchers playing golf and in Peter Siddle and Shane Harwood they have two red-blooded and slightly frightening grunters.

And a word about the crowd. The warmth, excitement and sheer noise generated by those attending at the Chinnaswamy Stadium made this the best day’s viewing of the tournament thus far for the armchair cricket connoisseur. The festival exuberance, the fireworks and the chanting for Sehwag and for birthday boy Kumble turned the occasion into an intoxicating blend of carnival and political rally. It was quite a show. Let’s hope next Friday’s final can match it.

Happy Diwali. And Happy Birthday Jumbo.


Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Ram on (October 20, 2009, 9:57 GMT)

Dear Muhammad/Saleem/Ed

I don't quite understand what's mocking you. Pile of Money or the success of IPL(Not IPL Teams).

Posted by Uday on (October 20, 2009, 6:50 GMT)

I hope Andrew you weren't serious about your "sensible thing" comment!

Posted by Ed on (October 19, 2009, 7:53 GMT)

Seems to me that the teams that have grown up and played together for a few years have done better than the teams who have been thrown together with a big pile of money to paper over the cracks.... (UK, NZ and SL aside obviously).

Posted by Jawwad Riaz on (October 19, 2009, 6:38 GMT)

As a Pakistani it couldn't make me happier to see that none of the over paid, super-hyped and bloated IPL franchises made it to the final stages of the league :) And nothing makes me happier to see a fledgling Windies team become the best story of the tournament (as is become almost customary of the WI these days. Stay tuned for euthanasia worthy of a Champion :p In this case, i don't think anyone would be too disappointed ...

Posted by Muhammad Saleem on (October 19, 2009, 5:06 GMT)

Lalit Modi made all efforts to make any indian team a champion by choosing teams, which he thought would easily loose to Indian teams, he even bring one team from T&T but unfortuately they are still better than the worthless indian paper tigers. Poor indians now scrap champion league, like ICL.

Posted by rainmaker on (October 19, 2009, 4:15 GMT)

This article is 'just not cricket'and pretty lame.

Andrew you suggest, with your snide remarks, that Bangalore should have "done the sensible thing". Every sport is diminished, every follower of the sport insulted, and other participants in the tournament cheated, if a team does not play to win.

Andrew... do us all a favor and follow/write about the WWE which is right up your alley

Posted by Girish on (October 19, 2009, 1:43 GMT)

Mate whatever you said about elephants ,lions,and peanuts.I think it is just not up to the mark.you should havehad a discusiion done here about an ipl team not making it through which I think in proportion has best international players don't under stand the use of ipl if thier teams can't even compete withsome small domestic teams of other countries.

Posted by Raj Jinna on (October 18, 2009, 15:27 GMT)

Dear Mr.Hughes

I know the "made-up" team doesn't bring the same commitment to the table as a county or country team, but it for sure brings in all the excitement of a fantasy team coming true. Atleast the money is making them pretend/feel as if they were part of this team forever, the super test matches and ODI's organized by ICC some years ago involving Australia and rest of the world were pathetic. Even though the top priority for all the cricket lovers is to support their nation, the face of cricket has now changed; and people wants to see some good cricket, doesn't matter who plays for who.

Posted by pat raman on (October 18, 2009, 13:25 GMT)

fantastic piece andrew!

cud nt agree more with ur observations..

virender sehwag is such a breath of fresh air at the crease and dilshan easily is the most improved player in the circuit in the past 6 months or so in terms of churning out the runs despite a technique all of his own.

your analogies are a terrific romantic read!

welcome to india ,andrew! soak up the atmosphere, and its varied colours and characters, so unique and different.

Posted by Raghunath on (October 18, 2009, 11:49 GMT)

Well written, but muddied by some dubious observations.

What according to the author would have been a sensible thing to do? Negotiate and play a farcical match, with a made-up fightback by one of the teams before the sensible result is presented to the world?

Two elephants squabbling over a bag of peanuts? Interesting observation, but doesn't qualify to be an analogy.

The author must recognize that RCB (and maybe several other teams) were done in by the format of the event. VB lost a match, but are through! So they didn't have to play hard against Cobras.

RCB lost a match. But played hard when they didn't have to. But they had to ... because many thought its IPL2 success was a freak, its ability to repeat is doubtful, etc etc.

DD had to play hard and win. Else they would be out! That's why RCB had to play hard - and prove that it was an IPL2.5 final that they won!

Tomorrow DD may win, but yet they are out! So they shouldn't squabble over a bag of peanuts!!

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Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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