What happens in a strategic time-out?
Sadly, for us Brits, this mystery interval is just another excuse to whisk the viewer away from the stadium where all the exciting things happen and drag them back to the place where conversations go to die. Yes, the ITV studio is the Bermuda Triangle for banter, a black hole for badinage. There they sit, Vikram and Alec and Graeme and the other Graham, like defendants in a courtroom, cagily reading extracts from the Sportman’s Manual of the Bleeding Obvious, whilst their hosts attempt to trick them into saying something, anything that might pass for interesting.
There was a marginal improvement on Thursday, because Mandira Bedi was trusted to run the show on her own and the second when that decision was made can be officially designated a Moment Of Success. Like a flower that has finally struggled into full sunlight, her personality spread out and she was able to do her thing. She takes the radical view that Twenty20 cricket is supposed to be showbiz. So does Danny Morrison, which is presumably why his every utterance is delivered in the style of a 1970s American chat show host going to a commercial break.
And speaking of commercials, I hope, like me, you’ve been playing Advertising Bingo. If you have, then you’ll have been delighted with the efforts of Russel Arnold on Thursday. In the space of a few overs, the eager Sri Lankan announced the IPL’s first Nearly DLF Maximum, when the ball fell just short of the rope; declared that a dropped catch by Dravid would have been a Karbonn Kamal catch; seized upon a Citi Moment of Success when Rajasthan finally managed to hit a six and then suggested that now might be a good moment to take a Max Mobile Time Out. A full set! Nice work, Russel, you’ve certainly stepped up to the corporate plate.
Although the game itself was, to be frank, a little one-sided, I was very impressed with the Bangalore Challengers (Royal). Despite the presence of a number of what are politely called veterans, they flung themselves about in the field like lambs frolicking in spring pastures. Well, not quite, but you get the idea. And Steyn and friends even found time to stage a recreation of cricket’s finest hour, with their tribute to the Bodyline series of 1932-33. It made an English heart glad to once more see the ball whistling around ears, smashing into helmets, bouncing off shoulders and so on.
Rajasthan’s interpretation, on the other hand, was rather less convincing. Indeed had Douglas Jardine had to rely on Munaf and Morkel to implement his plan, I’d suggest that Bradman, McCabe and chums might not have had anything to worry about. If all the fielders were clustered on the leg side, you can be sure that M&M would be offering up full bungers outside off stump. "Rajasthan thali for dinner", read one banner. Quite.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England