April 4, 2012

Ravi Shastri

What’s not to like about the IPL?

Andrew Hughes
Singer Katy Perry shakes hands with IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla at the opening ceremony, Chennai, March 3, 2012
Would any other cricket league afford you the sight of Katy Perry shaking hands with an Indian politician?  © Associated Press
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Tuesday, 3rd April “So you really watch it? All of it?”

Yes it’s true. My name is Andrew Hughes and I have an IPL problem. It isn’t the same problem that most English people have with the IPL. Those three letters don’t provoke me to derisive nasal sounds or to mutter dismissively about “Indian domestic cricket” from behind the county pages of the Times.

No, my IPL problem is that for a few weeks every spring it takes over my life, but I can’t talk to anyone about it. I am the only English person I know who watches the thing. Incredulity is the most popular reaction when I tell people I’m looking forward to the IPL, followed by benign amusement and then concern for my state of mind.

It seems there is a divide between those of us who love it and those of us who don’t; a gulf as wide as any that separates groups of humans. I don’t understand why cricket lovers wouldn’t want to watch the IPL, just as I don’t understand why anyone would want to vote for Newt Gingrich or eat their steak rare. We might as well be different species.

But isn’t there a lot of hype with the IPL? Well, yes, there is, and a good thing too. Anticipation is part of the pleasure. A big sporting event without the hype is like a carnival without candy floss or a Hollywood blockbuster without a car chase in the trailer. The IPL hype doesn’t usually last beyond Ravi’s first commentary stint, but I wouldn’t be without it.

In fact, Test cricket could do with a dose of IPL glamour, instead of limping apologetically from one two-match series to another and trying to make a virtue of its Victorian snobbery. The Test ranking system is a good thing, but where’s the publicity? An annual photograph of a sheepish-looking captain holding a sort of a mace is not exactly a crowd-puller

Of course, not everything in the IPL garden is fragrant and appealing. It’s fair to say the rehabilitation scheme under which former international cricketers are retrained as game-show hosts has had mixed results. Then there’s the unpleasant whiff of commercialism. Like sewage, we know it’s part of life, but that doesn’t mean we want to keep looking at it.

And it is a marathon. By halfway, you’ll be flagging. You’ll start forgetting what day it is, who played yesterday, who’s playing tomorrow and whether Punjab are out yet. You may find yourself daydreaming fondly about kidnapping Danny Morrison and confining him to an uninhabited Pacific atoll for the duration of the tournament.

But then the knockout stages come into view and you get the energy to keep going. By this time the birds outside your window are starting to sound like Shastri, you’re hitting sponsored boundaries in your sleep and even though bloody Chennai are in the final yet again, you still wouldn’t miss it for anything.

It is the greatest cricket show on earth and so, for the next seven weeks and five days, from the mythical realm of Row Z, I will be bringing you the view of the English franchise-addict: an outcast in his own land, braving the group stage with just a remote control, a bottle of gin, and a copy of Shane Warne’s Official IPL Colouring Book.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think the opening ceremony’s starting and I really don’t want to miss the parade of unicorns or Elvis singing the IPL anthem or the 20-foot high diamond-encrusted replica of Virat Kohli’s finger…

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Pulkit on (April 11, 2012, 8:53 GMT)

I am your fan for life from now on :)

Posted by Babur on (April 5, 2012, 5:11 GMT)

I never really bothered with IPL as it is mostly waste of time. The only aim of this extravaganza is to grab some (or lots of) quick bucks for as long as you can from a huge market. Calling it the 'great cricket show' is nothing but absurd. If I want to see real cricket, I'd rather go and watch Ashes ..... or a series involving SA and other top teams.

Posted by Pooja on (April 5, 2012, 4:23 GMT)

This. "...even though bloody Chennai are in the final yet again, you still wouldn’t miss it for anything." Hehelarious :)

Posted by redneck on (April 5, 2012, 3:21 GMT)

you only have to look at the names missing from the west indian test squad about to play australia and the one that will tour england! that is why i detest the ipl! it ruins cricket for everyone but the indian market! i dont even think its broadcast in australia at all now and thank god for that!

Posted by Geoff Plumridge on (April 5, 2012, 2:44 GMT)

What is the IPL?

Posted by Wacco on (April 5, 2012, 2:01 GMT)

The only Englishman successfully participated in IPL was L.modi, i suppose. Pardon me If I am wrong!

Posted by farai on (April 4, 2012, 23:29 GMT)

hilarious article, please where can i find 'Shane Warne’s Official IPL Colouring Book? i'm from Zimbabwe.

Posted by ralph on (April 4, 2012, 22:45 GMT)

"I don’t understand why cricket lovers wouldn’t want to watch the IPL"... ...no and I hear that some people think Christmas is better without Coca-Cola. Isn't it about time the ordinary people started backing the big corps and millionaire players who make all our lives so much better?

Posted by Prashant on (April 4, 2012, 21:30 GMT)

I hate to see that but many of our (indian) cricketers are always fit for IPL, while they will occasionally miss an international tour or two for injury. Besides its also a shame that BCCI does not let Pakistani cricketers participate. Mera bat hai, main nahin khelta tere saath, what nonsense!

Posted by BackBenchBoy on (April 4, 2012, 20:04 GMT)

Is it only me or nobody finds 'Page 2' not funny. I wonder even more, how people write the comments abt something is being funny.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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