World Cup 2011 May 11, 2011

What if the IPL had 33 times as many games?

Andy Zaltzman is almost back to normal after being debriefed on the World Cup, though a revolting song stays stuck in his head
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Hello Confectionery Stallers, and welcome to my first post-World Cup blog. I have completed a month-long social reassimilation course following my trip of a lifetime around the subcontinent, and am now, on occasion, almost capable of conducting a competent conversation about something other than cricket. I have stopped asking my wife and/or children to hold pretend press conferences in the kitchen explaining their curious batting Powerplay tactics. I no longer wake up in a cold sweat dreaming that I’m bowling to Kevin O’Brien in my own greenhouse. I therefore feel ready to allow cricket back into my life.

A few thoughts on what has happened during my sabbatical:

1. The unstoppable churn of international cricket has continued. Australia and Bangladesh launched the 2011-2015 cycle with an ODI series that began seemingly seconds after MS Dhoni concluded his victory speech in Mumbai. Even by the stretchiest stretch of even the most gymnastic of imaginations, this was too soon.

It is entirely feasible that, when the next World Cup starts, Mitchell Johnson will come charging in with a ball in each hand, and bowl them at two batsmen simultaneously on adjacent pitches, one to Gautam Gambhir in the World Cup opener, and another to Brendon McCullum in the fourth game of a seven-match ODI series that is a crucial early step in the Australians’ preparation for World Cup 2019.

2. The IPL juggernaut is plowing on, its golden engine chugging on relentlessly, churning out cricket after cricket after cricket. Fifty-four games played, 20 remaining. I cannot claim to have followed the tournament closely, or even distantly. I am still getting over the disappointment of being ignored at this year’s auction. Was I not even worth my $19.99 base price? Even for spare parts?

My family and friends also advised that I take a prolonged break from watching cricket featuring incessant blasts of pop music throughout the game. It has taken me over a month to eradicate the World Cup theme song “De Ghuma Ke” from my brain. I estimate that I heard the song, or snippets thereof, on approximately 8470 separate occasions during the tournament. That is a lie, but the point stands. Merely writing the name of the song has brought the memories flooding back. I may need further treatment. I am still not entirely sure what it means – I assume it was something about slowly building an innings and working the ball into the gaps until your eye is in.

As I wrote at the time, I felt that the ear-assaulting unavoidability of the irrelevant musical interludes on the stadium PA systems neutered genuine atmosphere. However, it should be said in mitigation that, during American hip-hoppers the Black Eyed Peas’ recent “The E.N.D. World Tour”, at the end of every song they played a 20-second snippet of John Arlott’s radio commentary at face-melting volume.

I digress. The IPL team owners and grandees must be casting envious glances at Major League Baseball in America, whose season began at around the same time. The MLB has just ripped through the 450-game barrier, with just under 2000 more matches to go. Plus the up-to-41-game post-season. Each franchise hurls and thwacks its way through 162 games in the regular season, at a rate of six matches per week. Can a window in the international calendar be found for a similar IPL format? If there were 33 times as many games, would it be 33 times as exciting?

3. It was a source of considerable relief that the ICC will reassess its patently bonkers format for the 2015 World Cup. Its proposed 10-team closed-shop retro-style tournament took the concept of cricketing development and clattered it hard in the groin with a 3lb 8oz bat, whilst proudly purring, “Shot, sir. Shot.”

On the evidence of this year’s World Cup, few could argue that there are 14 teams deserving of a World Cup place. Even fewer, however, could argue that there are only 10, and even fewer than that could claim that the qualification process for selecting those 10 should have been conducted without public notification, and been concluded in 2000 before being kept under wraps until the least opportune moment. It should be 12 teams, and not take too long. Although either one of those two would be nice.

A fascinating English summer looms. Sri Lanka, then India. England should be perkier than they were at the World Cup, with their three captains – rumour has it that Strauss will ride Cook and Broad in a pantomime horse outfit onto the field in Cardiff in two weeks’ time. By the time India arrive, after the IPL and a Caribbean tour, they might need some industrial-strength coffee. I’ve been working on my carrom ball, but cannot yet get it down my hallway without it hitting the wall. So it looks like I am facing another summer on the touchlines. But I’ve had my blogging licence renewed, Statsguru is waiting, and my computer will hurl itself off a cliff if it reads much more stuff about British politics. It’s good to be back.

EXTRAS

● In an effort to make the pre-Twenty20 era of cricket retrospectively more exciting, the IPL is being officially backdated. The 1976 IPL has been won by the now defunct Visakhapatnam Visigoths, led by Indian Test legend Gundappa Viswanath and part-owned by legendary film director Satyajit Ray and Scottish pop stars the Bay City Rollers. In a tense final in Madras, they defeated the Delhi Daredevils, for whom Geoff Boycott scored an undefeated 23 off 65 balls as his team narrowly failed to chase down the Visigoths' total of 93 for 4, an imposing total for the time. The losing semi-finalists were the Punjab Pranksters and the Chennai Benevolent Dictators, later rebranded as the Super Kings.

● After the batting Powerplay provided considerable tactical intrigue throughout the World Cup, the ICC has announced the introduction of a further Powerplay to spice up the 50-over game. In the new captaincy Powerplay, the skipper of the batting team will captain the fielding side for five overs. He will choose the bowlers, and place the field. An ICC spokesperson commented: “We’ve tested it out in club cricket, and it’s a hoot. To compensate the considerable advantage this gives the batting side, during the captaincy Powerplay the fielding team will be able to jump around and pull faces in an effort to distract the batsmen. These innovations should help cricket become the world’s most-watched spectator sport.”

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jap on May 31, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    de ghuma ke - is plain an simple like "just do it..." it is the desi way of saying go for it! give it to them! bowler to batsman... or batsman to bowler... you are de-simplifying by loading it with your cricketing sense of what the batsman might do...and surmising...! shankar ehsaan and loy take a bow!

  • James Perkins on May 29, 2011, 13:39 GMT

    Retrocative IPLs? Any joke about Geoffrey Boycott is gold in my book, well done Andy Z!

  • ram kumar on May 17, 2011, 17:07 GMT

    andy you rocks...

  • Wanderer on May 16, 2011, 11:12 GMT

    Adore your writing!

  • Mehul on May 13, 2011, 4:55 GMT

    Missed the confectionary-wallah! Welcome back!

  • Karthik on May 12, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    Welcome back Andy! Hope that you write frequently from now on.

  • Vikram on May 12, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    Now that Andy is here, will Andrew Hughes retire please?

  • jerry china on May 12, 2011, 1:32 GMT

    Backdated IPL was hilarious.. welcome back Andy...

  • Vilander on May 11, 2011, 20:30 GMT

    solitude has made wonders for you, the 'stretchiest stretch of even the most gymnastic of imaginations ' and 'the mitch bowling at gambir and brendan' were just too good. And i second your opinion on the pop interludes

  • Jay on May 11, 2011, 19:43 GMT

    aaaaahh my dearest Andy. The world's most gifted comidian and cricket writer. Yes I too follow the IPL neither closely nor distantly. 74 matches in total and I for one feel like having turned 74 yrs old myself hahaha. Please keep bringing more joy and laughter into our boring lives mate. Thanks.

  • jap on May 31, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    de ghuma ke - is plain an simple like "just do it..." it is the desi way of saying go for it! give it to them! bowler to batsman... or batsman to bowler... you are de-simplifying by loading it with your cricketing sense of what the batsman might do...and surmising...! shankar ehsaan and loy take a bow!

  • James Perkins on May 29, 2011, 13:39 GMT

    Retrocative IPLs? Any joke about Geoffrey Boycott is gold in my book, well done Andy Z!

  • ram kumar on May 17, 2011, 17:07 GMT

    andy you rocks...

  • Wanderer on May 16, 2011, 11:12 GMT

    Adore your writing!

  • Mehul on May 13, 2011, 4:55 GMT

    Missed the confectionary-wallah! Welcome back!

  • Karthik on May 12, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    Welcome back Andy! Hope that you write frequently from now on.

  • Vikram on May 12, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    Now that Andy is here, will Andrew Hughes retire please?

  • jerry china on May 12, 2011, 1:32 GMT

    Backdated IPL was hilarious.. welcome back Andy...

  • Vilander on May 11, 2011, 20:30 GMT

    solitude has made wonders for you, the 'stretchiest stretch of even the most gymnastic of imaginations ' and 'the mitch bowling at gambir and brendan' were just too good. And i second your opinion on the pop interludes

  • Jay on May 11, 2011, 19:43 GMT

    aaaaahh my dearest Andy. The world's most gifted comidian and cricket writer. Yes I too follow the IPL neither closely nor distantly. 74 matches in total and I for one feel like having turned 74 yrs old myself hahaha. Please keep bringing more joy and laughter into our boring lives mate. Thanks.

  • Kool Kat on May 11, 2011, 19:16 GMT

    Visakhapatnam Visigoths, led by Gundappa Vishwanath....just too good. Had me in splits.

  • narayan on May 11, 2011, 18:02 GMT

    finally!!! and what a spectacular re-entry you have made!!hilarious!!

  • Akash on May 11, 2011, 17:03 GMT

    Welcome back mate! You're writing again! All's well with the world!

  • rishabh on May 11, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    Cant stop laughing....No one is better than taking humorous potshots than Andy Z

  • Anirudh Madhavan on May 11, 2011, 15:47 GMT

    Where the hell have you been for so long ? Missed you a lot...Welcome back...My stomach is just aching due to laughter after I finished reading this article..

  • Joe D on May 11, 2011, 15:32 GMT

    Awesome! Superb!

  • GT on May 11, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    Welcome back Andy, I was beginning to have withdrawal symptoms. At $19.99 you were way to expensive for the team owners but your pieces are priceless.

  • Shreesha S Bhat on May 11, 2011, 14:08 GMT

    Zaltzman's re-entry into cricinfo's writing world has the same effect as Chris Gayle entering the RCB team!!

  • jiteendra on May 11, 2011, 13:42 GMT

    ...very hilarious piece of writin....johnson bowlin to two bats simultaneously...n powerplay for d battin captain stand apart...i am still laughin writin dis comment...

  • Harxal on May 11, 2011, 13:40 GMT

    Now this is called Satire. All other authors can retire.

  • Brian Newham on May 11, 2011, 11:33 GMT

    great stuff Andy, But on a serious note. 12 teams for 2015? Holland are holding their own this year against the county sides. Afghanistan are on the march and Ireland are pretty much there. Three groups of five, seeded, followed by two groups of three, followed by the third place play off and the final.

  • Aashay Harshe on May 11, 2011, 11:28 GMT

    This is an exceptional piece , exellent humour and wit diagnosing the idiosyncrasies of modern day cricket administration.

  • dishant on May 11, 2011, 11:27 GMT

    amazing as ever !! mitch part was the best !! good to have u back !!

  • Gaurav on May 11, 2011, 10:49 GMT

    Entertaining article as always.. Captaincy powerplay is really a brilliant idea. Just to be fair to the captain of fielding side, he should also get the right to choose which batsmen will come in next if the wickets fall in that powerplay. I hope to see you more frequently here during Eng vs Ind series.

  • Gaurav on May 11, 2011, 10:40 GMT

    Just like Dada...Andy is back and he delivers just like only he can...Bravo Andy Bravo!!!!

  • Theena on May 11, 2011, 9:38 GMT

    I rarely come to Cricinfo in anticipation of good news - every cricket related development seems to be regressive - and I seem to be visiting this site more out of habit than anything else. Your writing, though, is one reason I'll always come back. Welcome back, Mr Zaltzman. You were missed.

  • Giridhar on May 11, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    Welcome Back Andy!! and u r bang on Target,...... well i was expecting lot of Stats from you on IPL, a bit disappointed to know u dont follow it!! :-D Anyways ...a nice article and especially the backdated IPL is superb!!

  • Ankur Aggarwal on May 11, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    Welcome back Andy As usual the article is hilarious, Mitchell Johnson bowling at 2 batsmen simultaneously made my day

  • Yogesh on May 11, 2011, 8:45 GMT

    The good thing with Mitch bowling from both hands simultaneously is that definitely the two batsmen will have to play at them. Either they are deliveries on target or deliveries meant for the other batsman that have gone wide.

  • Ajay on May 11, 2011, 8:44 GMT

    Absolutely hilariously over the top! Fantastic article. So glad to have you back Andy.

  • Yogesh on May 11, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    The problem with Mitch with balls in each hand is that neither batsman can be sure of which hand to look for the ball !

  • Sabri Wahid on May 11, 2011, 8:34 GMT

    Your articles are fabulous and I have been checking cricinfo every day since the WC to check whether you have written. Hope you will continue to churn out many more!

  • sudheer on May 11, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    O my..how do you even know Visakhapatnam? never would have imagined i would see my city's name in ur blog. And to think that we won in 1976..the year i was born there..brings back some sweet memories..retrospectively..haha..

  • Simon W. on May 11, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    good to have you back. Now, just get your posterior back on Radio 5 and all will be well with the World.

  • yo on May 11, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    Aaandy...ANDY!

  • ai on May 11, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    Shot, sir. Shot.

  • Sameer on May 11, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    You are spot on. That is exactly what De Ghuma Ke means.

    Welcome back!

  • Dhruv Joshi on May 11, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    excellent and entertaining as usual. "I assume it was something about slowly building an innings and working the ball into the gaps until your eye is in." best part!

  • JD on May 11, 2011, 7:36 GMT

    Pathetic!

  • lalit on May 11, 2011, 7:12 GMT

    Andy, I am such a big fan of your writing but unfortunately this piece seems to be written hurriedly (journalistic compulsions? ) Stale jokes abt powerplay captained by batting side and backdated events do not evoke laughter again and again .. I look forward to some fresh writing from you .. may be some more therapy is the order of the day !

  • Rohan Bhalerao on May 11, 2011, 6:58 GMT

    Oh my God! Why were u gone Andy? I know, u explained the reasons in this article.. But really, i have never missed any writer as much as i missed reading ur article.. U r simply FANTABULOUS! Ur World cup articles were GEMs and i have treasured them and will make sure that even after 20 years, i can give them to read to my son or whoever asks me- what was the atmosphere like when India won the World cup. It's a PRIVILEGE to read ur articles! Please never ever stop again for anything!

  • syed on May 11, 2011, 6:39 GMT

    the "de ghma ke" part was awesome!! welcome back Andy we surely missed u !

  • Biggus on May 11, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    I'm all for the 'Chennai Benevolent Dictators'! Chennai Super Kings sounds to me like a brand of cigarette, and should therefore be included in the ban on tobacco advertising in sport. "Chennai Super Kings. Mild as can be, but they satisfy me!" Almost enough to make me quit.

  • Chinar on May 11, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    "That is a lie, but the point stands

    ""the Chennai Benevolent Dictators, later rebranded as the Super Kings."

    hahahahaha....

  • Dipal on May 11, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    Oh man! thank god you're back! My colleagues say I'm back to normal as I have again started to roll over in laughter after watching the computer screen! Ha! who are they to know I'm reading the Zaltzman's column? Red carpet welcome back!

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  • Dipal on May 11, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    Oh man! thank god you're back! My colleagues say I'm back to normal as I have again started to roll over in laughter after watching the computer screen! Ha! who are they to know I'm reading the Zaltzman's column? Red carpet welcome back!

  • Chinar on May 11, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    "That is a lie, but the point stands

    ""the Chennai Benevolent Dictators, later rebranded as the Super Kings."

    hahahahaha....

  • Biggus on May 11, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    I'm all for the 'Chennai Benevolent Dictators'! Chennai Super Kings sounds to me like a brand of cigarette, and should therefore be included in the ban on tobacco advertising in sport. "Chennai Super Kings. Mild as can be, but they satisfy me!" Almost enough to make me quit.

  • syed on May 11, 2011, 6:39 GMT

    the "de ghma ke" part was awesome!! welcome back Andy we surely missed u !

  • Rohan Bhalerao on May 11, 2011, 6:58 GMT

    Oh my God! Why were u gone Andy? I know, u explained the reasons in this article.. But really, i have never missed any writer as much as i missed reading ur article.. U r simply FANTABULOUS! Ur World cup articles were GEMs and i have treasured them and will make sure that even after 20 years, i can give them to read to my son or whoever asks me- what was the atmosphere like when India won the World cup. It's a PRIVILEGE to read ur articles! Please never ever stop again for anything!

  • lalit on May 11, 2011, 7:12 GMT

    Andy, I am such a big fan of your writing but unfortunately this piece seems to be written hurriedly (journalistic compulsions? ) Stale jokes abt powerplay captained by batting side and backdated events do not evoke laughter again and again .. I look forward to some fresh writing from you .. may be some more therapy is the order of the day !

  • JD on May 11, 2011, 7:36 GMT

    Pathetic!

  • Dhruv Joshi on May 11, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    excellent and entertaining as usual. "I assume it was something about slowly building an innings and working the ball into the gaps until your eye is in." best part!

  • Sameer on May 11, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    You are spot on. That is exactly what De Ghuma Ke means.

    Welcome back!

  • ai on May 11, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    Shot, sir. Shot.