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And behind us, an implausible seven-week long party that seemed as though it would never end, yet suddenly did, at eight o’clock on Sunday night. The IPL final has already passed into my subconscious and I can only recollect it dimly, like a man with a hangover trying to reconstruct the night before. Were there really hovercrafts? Did Harbhajan bat at four? Was there a 50-metre high cricketer? Or was it the gin?
So as I sipped my coffee on Monday morning, my skull still reverberating to the echo of a tumult of horns and drums, I pondered how best to sum up the IPL. But how do you begin to describe the ineffable? Perhaps with carefully weighed judgements, sober analysis and objective conclusions, delivered with the gravitas of the seasoned cricket journalist? That would be one way, certainly, but it wouldn’t be the Long Handle way.
Instead, I decided to thank the people who make the IPL what it is. And where better to start than with that multitude of corporate bodies without whom, as we all know, cricket would not exist. The odd name check here and there is a small price for the viewer to pay, so I’d like to give my own tribute to the companies that brought us the IMF Maximum, the Caramel Cream Catch and the Silly Moment of Success. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.
Then there are the commentators, whose steadfast, dogged loyalty is a shining example to employees everywhere. For example, during the final, Robin Jackman was standing up for the Spidercam, an expensive contraption that requires three men and a NASA control room to operate. Viewers were invited to vote on whether it was a good innovation and 15% of respondents displayed a distressing independence of thought by clicking on ‘no’. “I’d like to know who those 15% were,” chuntered Jackers. Don’t worry Robin, I’m sure Lalit knows where they live.
Still, if I might digress for a moment, at the risk of incurring the wrath of Robin, I have to admit that I sided with the 15% on this one. There is no denying that Spidercam offers a unique perspective. Specifically, it offers the perspective of a drunken vertigo sufferer bungee jumping from a moving crane. Startling, no doubt, but what it adds to our understanding of the game is not immediately clear, unless it is part of a campaign to boost IPL viewing figures in that all important arachnid demographic.
And finally, thank you to ITV4. I’m going to forgive you for helping to perpetuate the punditry career of Mr Ronald Irani for three reasons. Firstly, for your opening title sequence. It was lovely. Secondly, for Mandira Bedi, whose sparkly presence alleviated the suffocating banality of the all-male studio ensemble. And thirdly, for Simon Hughes, who possesses those precious qualities rarely displayed by the ex-cricketer on television: an enquiring mind and an interest in cricket.
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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. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73