IPL March 17, 2010

Rajasthan are yesterday’s bagel

Warne and Co are so over

Rajasthan: croissants that history has passed by © Associated Press

The IPL is like a bakery. How’s that, I hear you ask. How can a multinational cricket tournament be compared to a bread-making facility? Surely that is a simile too far.

Not so. Has reading this column over the last few weeks taught you nothing? No metaphor is too ridiculous, no literary device too outlandish to convey the wonders of the great game. So, here we go. The IPL is like a bakery.

What is the word you associate with bakeries? Apart from flour. And yeast. And eggs. No, I’m not talking about rolling pins, pastry cutters or ovens. I’m thinking of an abstract noun. The word is “fresh”. (Yes, it also works for greengrocers, but I don’t like vegetables, I like cakes, and besides, it’s my simile, not yours.) A bakery thrives on freshness. No one is interested in yesterday’s bread.

So it is with the IPL. The new, the fresh, the “now” is all that matters. Who hit the last six? Who won the last game? Who bowled the last wide? It is a carnival devoted to living in the moment, entirely devoid of context, history or regret. Like an out-of-control sports car driven by clowns, it crashes into your living room, drives round and round honking loudly and then departs whence it came.

And in the IPL bakery, the Rajasthan Royals are the stale bagels left in the back of the cupboard. They are yesterday’s treat. You can tart them up with gold icing all you like, but darling, they are so 2008. Back then, we were young, we were foolish, we thought fondly of Danny Morrison. Warne’s outlaws were quirky, inexpensive and they hopped about incessantly, like gaudy tree frogs on an electrified roof.

But we’ve seen that. We’ve heard enough about their captain’s wonderful powers of motivation, his innovative field settings and those catchy team nicknames (I’d love to know what Graeme Smith’s was: The Disappointer? The Blocker?) It was all charming in its way. But now it’s one big yawn. I knew it was over when I heard Jeremy Snape claiming that young players were part of The Rajasthan Brand.

I think of them as a group of hapless sales executives, forced to spend a seven-week team bonding exercise under the control of an over-eager Australian facilitator who specialises in motivational chats and festoons their meeting rooms with slogans and inspirational pie charts. I don’t know about you, but my experience of such things has been a burning desire to get the hell out of there at the first opportunity.

I suspect that the Rajasthan players feel the same, judging by the way they went about their batting against the Delhi Daredevils (or “The Double D’s” as Danny Morrison has taken to calling them). It was clearly a cry for help. Slog, consolidate, slog, consolidate, go for a crazy single, slog: if the Rajasthan Royals were a car, you’d be taking them to your local garage complaining of a misfire. And then you’d trade them in for something more interesting. With less gold trim.

Monday’s game also featured a new addition to the IPL programme: moths. They had a great time, smacking into the camera lens, flapping about inside Dogra’s helmet, flying into Sehwag’s ear and out of Sehwag’s other ear. They were also the only living creatures in the ground that were actually attracted to the electronic adverts on the sightscreens. Meanwhile Lalit Modi sat impassively in the posh seats. Surely the Commissioner could have sent a text to the Almighty and brought down a shower of moth-sucking toads?

Such extra-curricular developments are, of course, a knee-high full-toss to a top-quality commentator. Cue Harsha Bhogle:

“There are a number of moths around Maharoof. They must think he is covered in honey.”

Now I’m no moth expert, so I’m not sure, entomologically speaking, how accurate that is, but in any case, no viewer should be forced to contemplate a honey-slathered Maharoof whilst eating their tea. Please tone it down, Harsha, and remember there may be children watching.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England