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Kevin Pietersen has suggested that there is a lot of IPL jealousy on the part of English cricket, which is a bit silly. It isn’t jealousy, KP. Large numbers of English cricket folk genuinely aren’t interested in the IPL. Each to their own. I happen to find county cricket the epitome of tedium, a yawnsome Victorian relic that belongs in the scrapyard of history, along with the penny farthing and the gin shop.
Yet just because I don’t like the county snoozefest, does that mean I am jealous? Such a proposition doesn’t even make any sense. I could realistically harbour feelings of jealousy towards a man who owned a really splendid hat or a woman who won $65 million on the lottery or a stock exchange trader who makes a fortune by using other people’s money to play a glorified game of “higher or lower”.
But jealousy towards an entire competition? No, the abstract noun that KP should have used is “snobbery”. Cricket is riddled with it, like a Georgian trestle table infested by woodworm. For some, the only proper game of cricket is one that takes a minimum of three days to complete. Anything shorter than that is fit only for commoners who value such vulgarities as entertainment or excitement.
Snobbery in some fields, I can understand. It takes time and a certain intellectual capacity to learn to appreciate fine art or ballet or a piece of music that lasts for seven hours and doesn’t include guitars. But cricket snobbery, like the commentary style of Danny Morrison, makes no sense at all. It’s like a street sweeper looking down on a scullery maid because cleaning the kitchen floor doesn’t take very long.
While the rest of us just enjoy cricket in all its forms, the snob confines himself to just one. It’s a curious form of masochism but it does have a history. There were snobs in 18th-century London, turning their noses up at the raucous cricket played on the Artillery Ground, and 100 years later, other snobs were being rather sniffy about the large crowds who turned up to watch northern league matches.
Although to be completely fair, it isn’t only cricket snobs who don’t like the IPL. The fans of Kings XI Punjab haven’t got much joy out of the competition so far either. If life is a vale of tears, for followers of the silvery-red franchise it has been an ocean of sorrow. And yet today in Mohali, against Pune, amid a plague of moths, they got a win in IPL5; a momentous and possibly not to be repeated occasion.
It was a scrappy sort of affair and it started to go wrong for the turquoise-wearing ones from the moment that the cowboy Jesse Ryder and his compadre Sourav Ganguly got into a tangle. It was Jesse’s fault. Given his proportions and Sourav’s dislike of sudden movements, the attempt at a quick single was as ill-advised as two seals taking a shortcut through the polar-bear enclosure on their way to the fish shop.
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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