Fandom April 23, 2012

Are you a cricket fan or a cricket lover?

There are two species on the couch, and never the twain shall meet
37

Last week, Andy Zaltzman confessed he didn’t care about the IPL and asked if he should seek psychiatric help. I don’t think he’d get it on the NHS. Maybe there are shady cricket psychotherapists in the back streets of Kolkata, who for a small fee will strap their patients to an easy chair, force them to watch highlights of Pune Warriors versus the Royal Challengers and zap them with a dose of raw volts if they grab for the remote.

But Andy’s marbles are all present and correct. “Englishman Not All That Bothered About The IPL Shock” is not a scoop to stir Rupert Murdoch from his post-cocoa afternoon nap, nor is it a confession that would have the Spanish Inquisition high-fiving each other and heading down to the Rack and Thumbscrew for a few celebratory jars.

It’s a big universe out there and there’s room in it for all sorts. No Englishman, Dutchman, Somalian pirate or aquatic lifeform from a distant galaxy is compelled to find the IPL appetising, just as I am not forced to relish tinned sardines, although the presence of such a putrid comestible on our supermarket shelves is frankly a blight on humankind’s reputation.

Andy says that English cricket fans don’t watch the IPL because they don’t care about any of the teams. And he’s right. If a cricket fan is what you are, if you need to care who wins the thing before you feel like applying your bottom to the sofa cushion, then why should you give two hoots about the exploits of KKR or Chennai or the Double RRs, unless you, your granny or your granny’s parakeet were born or raised there?

But I have a theory. Stay with me. I think there are cricket fans or cricket lovers: those who care who wins and those who don’t. I admit my theory has some Jesse Ryder-sized holes in it. It doesn’t include people who start neutral but take against Kolkata because those gold helmets really don’t go with those purple slacks. It doesn’t account for gamblers who’ll lose their apartment, their pet goldfish and their kneecaps if Mumbai don’t chase down 175 in 18 overs, people waiting for The Professionals to start, infants who lack the fine motor skills to change the channel, in-patients confined to their beds, and cats.

But still, it’s my theory and I like it. You can be a cricket fan or a cricket lover, but you can’t be both at the same time. A cricket lover appreciates the game on its own terms. Neville Cardus was a cricket lover. So was John Arlott. CLR James wrote that cricket is a dramatic art, related to the theatre, the ballet and the opera. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s more than just another squabble over which city, county or country is best.

If we watch cricket just to cheer for a badge or a flag, we sell it short and we give ammunition to those who say that no mere sport watched by common people can be art. West Side Story isn’t just for former members of 1950s New York street gangs (although I think we can agree that the Jets were lucky to get away with a draw.) And the IPL is not just for those who care which franchise wins it. It’s cricket, so the cricket lover watches it.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • MOHAN DOSHI on May 15, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    Its OK if a few mad Englishmen don't watch the #IPL. And we don't care about the #EPL, the over hyped league. I'll take d Liga anyday.

  • Aho on April 30, 2012, 10:48 GMT

    No matter what anyone thinks... IPL is here to stay because it is a format in which India cant lose...

  • Huraish Abdul on April 30, 2012, 6:34 GMT

    What IPL has done the best is I have seen the Delhi crowd go crazy shouting when Sachin was ou caught by KP bowled by Morkel.... Well We Indians never thought We can ever be happy when Sachin is out.. But the IPL has done this...And perhaps thats for good....

  • Shadab Raza on April 24, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    I appreciate your article & I m kind of a cricket lover, who used to watch cricket even if it was played in ground near to my home. But I m sorry to say, IPL has not attraction (for ckt lover like me), its more like a gilli danda game which we played on street at front of our houses in childhood. No mind require to play 20-20. Sorry.

  • Charlie Joe on April 24, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    Double Trouble ! It is Double Rs & not Double RRs !!

  • tonyp on April 24, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    The main problem with the IPL is that it is T20. 20 overs just isn't enough to generate the tactical and strategic nuances I like. See ball thrash ball is what it seems like. If you enjoy that sort of thing good luck to you. I don't so I don't care about the IPL, nor do I like the Big Bash or brethren. The EPL generates foreign fans because they play the game in a recognisable form. T20 intrinsically polarises the viewing public.

  • TD_160 on April 24, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    Harsha raises an interesting point. How is it that EPL teams manage to have a fan following in every part of the world? Most fans of Manchester United live outside Britain, have no connection to Manchester and have never been there. So why is it that non-Indians don't care about IPL teams? Are the IPL franchises doing something wrong in their marketing?

  • Cricpatron on April 23, 2012, 20:43 GMT

    Cricket is no doubt an English game. But this nativity has not so far yielded a World Cup Championship. For more than a century, the English engaged in cricket as a summer pastime. Literally, for many English people they knew no better cricketers than their respective county cricket fellows - this was true even when the British Empire was at its zenith. Test cricket for the English was only a once-in-a-blue-moon affair between their own crown colonies especially a prestige issue between England and Australia or South Africa. Any other country playing cricket was considered a minnow and was considered not even good for county cricket standards. Regardless of status of English cricket in the last five decades, other than the Test matches between the three aforementioned countries, county cricket, which the rest of the world know nothing about, is still the Englishman's cricket staple, and they choose to be blissfully ignorant about any other form of cricket played elsewhere.

  • abhijith on April 23, 2012, 18:20 GMT

    good article . . . almost all matches in ipl have close finish , n players like gayle , kp, pollard , dale steyn make it worth watching . . .

  • mydearoldthing on April 23, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    I have to agree with both Matt D and harsha. I am a test cricket lover and a T20 fan but being English my opinion on the IPL is irrelevant to the quality of the tournament.

  • MOHAN DOSHI on May 15, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    Its OK if a few mad Englishmen don't watch the #IPL. And we don't care about the #EPL, the over hyped league. I'll take d Liga anyday.

  • Aho on April 30, 2012, 10:48 GMT

    No matter what anyone thinks... IPL is here to stay because it is a format in which India cant lose...

  • Huraish Abdul on April 30, 2012, 6:34 GMT

    What IPL has done the best is I have seen the Delhi crowd go crazy shouting when Sachin was ou caught by KP bowled by Morkel.... Well We Indians never thought We can ever be happy when Sachin is out.. But the IPL has done this...And perhaps thats for good....

  • Shadab Raza on April 24, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    I appreciate your article & I m kind of a cricket lover, who used to watch cricket even if it was played in ground near to my home. But I m sorry to say, IPL has not attraction (for ckt lover like me), its more like a gilli danda game which we played on street at front of our houses in childhood. No mind require to play 20-20. Sorry.

  • Charlie Joe on April 24, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    Double Trouble ! It is Double Rs & not Double RRs !!

  • tonyp on April 24, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    The main problem with the IPL is that it is T20. 20 overs just isn't enough to generate the tactical and strategic nuances I like. See ball thrash ball is what it seems like. If you enjoy that sort of thing good luck to you. I don't so I don't care about the IPL, nor do I like the Big Bash or brethren. The EPL generates foreign fans because they play the game in a recognisable form. T20 intrinsically polarises the viewing public.

  • TD_160 on April 24, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    Harsha raises an interesting point. How is it that EPL teams manage to have a fan following in every part of the world? Most fans of Manchester United live outside Britain, have no connection to Manchester and have never been there. So why is it that non-Indians don't care about IPL teams? Are the IPL franchises doing something wrong in their marketing?

  • Cricpatron on April 23, 2012, 20:43 GMT

    Cricket is no doubt an English game. But this nativity has not so far yielded a World Cup Championship. For more than a century, the English engaged in cricket as a summer pastime. Literally, for many English people they knew no better cricketers than their respective county cricket fellows - this was true even when the British Empire was at its zenith. Test cricket for the English was only a once-in-a-blue-moon affair between their own crown colonies especially a prestige issue between England and Australia or South Africa. Any other country playing cricket was considered a minnow and was considered not even good for county cricket standards. Regardless of status of English cricket in the last five decades, other than the Test matches between the three aforementioned countries, county cricket, which the rest of the world know nothing about, is still the Englishman's cricket staple, and they choose to be blissfully ignorant about any other form of cricket played elsewhere.

  • abhijith on April 23, 2012, 18:20 GMT

    good article . . . almost all matches in ipl have close finish , n players like gayle , kp, pollard , dale steyn make it worth watching . . .

  • mydearoldthing on April 23, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    I have to agree with both Matt D and harsha. I am a test cricket lover and a T20 fan but being English my opinion on the IPL is irrelevant to the quality of the tournament.

  • Divyarattan makkar on April 23, 2012, 16:49 GMT

    Sorry i disagree with you...You can be both a cricket lover and a cricket fan together. Being a cricket lover, I love to watch competent stuff(india-australia series,ashes,indo-pak clashes,watching players like sachin,dravid,ponting,lara,mcgrath,warne,kumble,kallisgilly),i love to watch the skills of bowlers and how they try to get batsman make a mistake or sometimes jst bowl smething extraordinary.i love to watch batsman playing their different but natural game.And not to forget the fielders and captain(who not only plays cricket..but also a game of chess...that can be rapid one in t20s). BUT as a cricket fan,i love to cheer for my country...the team i like...i like to cheer and make noise for my star players....wear my team's jersey....and mind you itz not your critic comments and articles that drive the sport...itz the roar of fans..no matter what format is being played... As far as IPL is concerned, No one cares what people back in England think..itz an indian league..KP also plays

  • piyush on April 23, 2012, 16:35 GMT

    Nice concept, fan vs lover. Occasionally I do watch IPL, like for an over or two, when Sachin or Ganguly bat. Again, its more like a fan of players, than the teams.

  • Vraj Shah on April 23, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    IPL has so many teams that you are forced to become a fan as its impossible to watch games of every franchise but being a lover if time permits you might even watch a game of a different franchise. But I am not a lover nor huge fan of 20-20 and mainly IPL as a similar passion doesn't come to you when you see Indian team walking out. So I would instead watch WI v/s Aus which actually interests me and teaches some technique and skills. Like IPL might be for a fan than a true passionate lover of the sport

  • Gina on April 23, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    That is a refreshing new perspective...at least for me. I think there are very few true cricket lovers in this world. The rest love watching their team, one particular format, one particular series etc.

  • wizard on April 23, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    This has been the most disappointing article from my favorite blogger/ cricket writer. You're one writer i wouldn't pay to read but the quality of your articles in the IPL has seriously reduced. May be its the quantity vs quality phenomenon. GO BACK TO YOUR BLOG DIARY. If a cricketing world, your BLOG diary would have been test cricket - brilliant and all the verbs that you can use to describe test cricket while you articles on IPL seem like 6 a side, six over matches played in a village mela. Entertaining yes, but unimportant and useless.

  • Edged and taken on April 23, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    Nice one. But who put it on Page 2?

  • Rabin T on April 23, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    Even if it is a 'glorious' test match, if there's no real contest and one side fully overwhelms that other, it is a royal 3/4/5-day pain to watch it. I like tests, but I like a contest more. Till recently I used to be indifferent towards IPL, but the more I watch, the more I like it. Compared to even the extremely popular leagues (NFL, MLB..), IPL seems to throw up more close fought games and thus is more engaging. I decide who to root for on the day of the game or even change mid way through. Just like it for its unpredictability.

  • dr aniruddha on April 23, 2012, 13:55 GMT

    I am cricket maniac .... Everything related cricket is related to me , news / match / artcile ....any dam thing !!!! I watch all cricketing matches , live

  • Aaron on April 23, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    Agree 100% about tinned sardines they should be tracer bulleted back into the ocean and left there. Im Kiwi living in UAE and all I can say is GO RCB!

  • vinay on April 23, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    IPL bashing is getting a bit old now. We get the point,you like watching old fashioned Test cricket in its purest form and are against any form of fun.If you hadn't looked around there are a billion people in India and no we don't need you.All this repeated bashing just makes you look bitter.

  • NZBoy22 on April 23, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    Sounds like some of the people who posted their comments above are missing the point here even though Andrew Hughes has explained nicely.

    If you are a cricket lover, you just love to watch the game no matter what format is being played, because you don't watch it for the sake of team or a flag, you watch it because of your love for cricket. A cover drive is a cover drive be it in T20 or test cricket, when it's played of a good ball, a cricket lover's heart will admire it. But if you are a cricket fan, then all you looking for is the result of the game.

  • Paul S on April 23, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    More like Mark Cosgrove sized holes! This is T20 cricket youre talking about, it is for the fans only. I could sit and watch a test match for hours regardless of who is playing because I am a cricket lover. I will not watch a T20 unless its of international standard and involves my beloved Australians. That form of the game just isnt cricket. Its a farce, designed to bring in the big bucks. The BCCCI will ruin cricket!!!!

  • Jeevs on April 23, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    I don't see any Indian official or media trying to make English people to like IPL. This is started by KP and stoked by voracious english media. There are already 1.3 billion people to support and we doesn't care for others whether they support it or not.

  • TOM DAVIES on April 23, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    I'm old-fashioned and I think there is room for both and we are comparing apples and oranges;I'm saddened when I see a player put IPL before their country but then I'll never have (a chance ) to taste that temptation, So.

  • Franco Esposito-Soekardi on April 23, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    Twenty/20 cricket bores the wits out of me. It's like watching penalty shootout after penalty shootout. But it may serve to attract younger people into the game. Then, hopefully, they too may get bored of this kind of cricket and start watching and liking the longer formats. I just hope that some of the very big money IPL generates gets pumped back into the game - to help develop it in the countries beyond the test world: from Uganda to Papua New Guinea, from Indonesia to Croatia, from Ireland to Botswana. I'm writing from Italy: we're currently 20th in the T20 worlwide ranking, after finishing 1oth in the recent Global Qualifier in Dubai, where we were that close to beating Ireland. Twenty/20 cricket sucks: long live Twenty/20 cricket! But watch out for your soul, Cricket!

  • Manish on April 23, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    Not sure why IPL has been dragged into likes/Dislikes controversies.If English people don't like it ,tough ,it will go on and its there to stay.

    If one recalls it was Kevin Pieterson who said it out of Jealousy that ECB is not allowing players to play.And its not IPL fault that Anderson and Graeme Swann were unsold. It is said that any sport is dragged into these time wasting comments especially when they are played on subcontinent soil.

  • mat on April 23, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    I'm a cricket fan when watching Yorkshire or England, and a cricket lover when watching as a neutral. Simple

  • Tom H on April 23, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    I understand what you're getting at in this column - I'm a keen follower of Test cricket but I'm enjoying the current IPL (I've never bothered watching one before). It's actually the only cricket I get to watch, being in the UK without Sky, which might harm my argument somewhat, but I also find it quite relevant and almost relaxing.

    It means that there's always some interesting cricket on when I get home from work and it's the sort of cricket I actually get to play - only elevated to the point where it's worth watching for the inspiration.

  • Abhijeet on April 23, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    Going by your definitions, i would say, It is hell of lot fun when you watch cricket match as a fan. As a cricket lover you would just appreciate 'Good cricket' which is rare in IPL (read Dale Steyn's over to MI or gayle's onslaught on rahul's over). for Englishman, they have to decide how they want to watch it, it's an individual choice. :)

  • Mumble on April 23, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    I was thinking the exact same thing to myself the other day while watching Pune vs Dehli. I asked myself why I was watching the game and it was because I just like cricket in general and will go out of my way to watch any manifestation of it. Even if the IPL is a disgusting commercial branding feeding frenzy, where else are you gonna see AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle belt a hundred run partnership, or watch Sehwag and KP batting together ? Or is that no excuse ?...maybe English people can't get into it because there are no English players except KP, I noticed the English journo's (yourself not included Mr Hughes, because you said you watch it right from the start) did suddenly get quite excited when he scored that hundred. As a South African, I can still get to watch Steyn vs Kallis or some such..anyway, Test cricket is still the ultimate and this is just an amusing side-show for whoever. If you don't want to watch, no big deal.

  • Lakshmi Narasimhan on April 23, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Spot on

  • Brittop on April 23, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    I think I'm a cricket lover. I will watch test cricket regardless of who is playing (although can I claim no emotional investment in it - SA v NZ: will SA take England's no. 1 ranking; Aus v WI: will the Aussies lose!). I do watch some IPL games, now I don't have to pay an extra subscription, because of the quality of the players, but it is only T20. Having said that I'd probably watch it in preference to the CB40 unless Essex were playing.

  • Lauren on April 23, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    Well, I'll watch it - because any cricket is better than no cricket - but I won't care who wins.

    But that goes for a domestic match in any distant land.

  • Daniel on April 23, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    You guys have missed the point. The point is that to love cricket means an investment irrespective of team or country loyalty.

    For example, I would go out of my way to watch an England Test match as I am invested in the team, however, I also watch County Championship, Test matches involving other nations, ODIs and 20/20s and I will switch onto the IPL to watch cricket for crickets sake.

    I don't care who will win, I just want to see a close match that pits equal sides against each other and tests the teams.

    The beauty of 20/20 (coming from a Test lover) is it brings teams to a closer level and tests players ability to come in under instant pressure and being forced to adapt and play often inventively but with equal skill to that of a test match. The down side, it is not the proverbial attractive cover drive as Test Cricket is.

    People should accept that 20/20 brings different attributes to the table than Test Cricket or ODIs do.

  • Matt D on April 23, 2012, 6:57 GMT

    I am a test cricket lover - I will watch two teams that I am not emotionally invested in play a test match. Test cricket can be art which we can watch for its drama.

    T20 is emphatically not art which is why for one day cricket and especially T20, I am merely a fan. I would only watch if I cared about one of the teams.

  • Phaedrus on April 23, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    And what does the cricket lover feel on watching it?

  • harsha on April 23, 2012, 6:29 GMT

    I am an Indian and a huge fan of Test cricket ! But I have to admit that these IPL jokes are getting stale now ! Its like saying" EPL is not good enough because 90% of India does not watch it". IPL is a BCCI run domestic tournament for Indian spectators. It does not matter if someone in UK doesnt like the tournament.

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  • harsha on April 23, 2012, 6:29 GMT

    I am an Indian and a huge fan of Test cricket ! But I have to admit that these IPL jokes are getting stale now ! Its like saying" EPL is not good enough because 90% of India does not watch it". IPL is a BCCI run domestic tournament for Indian spectators. It does not matter if someone in UK doesnt like the tournament.

  • Phaedrus on April 23, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    And what does the cricket lover feel on watching it?

  • Matt D on April 23, 2012, 6:57 GMT

    I am a test cricket lover - I will watch two teams that I am not emotionally invested in play a test match. Test cricket can be art which we can watch for its drama.

    T20 is emphatically not art which is why for one day cricket and especially T20, I am merely a fan. I would only watch if I cared about one of the teams.

  • Daniel on April 23, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    You guys have missed the point. The point is that to love cricket means an investment irrespective of team or country loyalty.

    For example, I would go out of my way to watch an England Test match as I am invested in the team, however, I also watch County Championship, Test matches involving other nations, ODIs and 20/20s and I will switch onto the IPL to watch cricket for crickets sake.

    I don't care who will win, I just want to see a close match that pits equal sides against each other and tests the teams.

    The beauty of 20/20 (coming from a Test lover) is it brings teams to a closer level and tests players ability to come in under instant pressure and being forced to adapt and play often inventively but with equal skill to that of a test match. The down side, it is not the proverbial attractive cover drive as Test Cricket is.

    People should accept that 20/20 brings different attributes to the table than Test Cricket or ODIs do.

  • Lauren on April 23, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    Well, I'll watch it - because any cricket is better than no cricket - but I won't care who wins.

    But that goes for a domestic match in any distant land.

  • Brittop on April 23, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    I think I'm a cricket lover. I will watch test cricket regardless of who is playing (although can I claim no emotional investment in it - SA v NZ: will SA take England's no. 1 ranking; Aus v WI: will the Aussies lose!). I do watch some IPL games, now I don't have to pay an extra subscription, because of the quality of the players, but it is only T20. Having said that I'd probably watch it in preference to the CB40 unless Essex were playing.

  • Lakshmi Narasimhan on April 23, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Spot on

  • Mumble on April 23, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    I was thinking the exact same thing to myself the other day while watching Pune vs Dehli. I asked myself why I was watching the game and it was because I just like cricket in general and will go out of my way to watch any manifestation of it. Even if the IPL is a disgusting commercial branding feeding frenzy, where else are you gonna see AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle belt a hundred run partnership, or watch Sehwag and KP batting together ? Or is that no excuse ?...maybe English people can't get into it because there are no English players except KP, I noticed the English journo's (yourself not included Mr Hughes, because you said you watch it right from the start) did suddenly get quite excited when he scored that hundred. As a South African, I can still get to watch Steyn vs Kallis or some such..anyway, Test cricket is still the ultimate and this is just an amusing side-show for whoever. If you don't want to watch, no big deal.

  • Abhijeet on April 23, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    Going by your definitions, i would say, It is hell of lot fun when you watch cricket match as a fan. As a cricket lover you would just appreciate 'Good cricket' which is rare in IPL (read Dale Steyn's over to MI or gayle's onslaught on rahul's over). for Englishman, they have to decide how they want to watch it, it's an individual choice. :)

  • Tom H on April 23, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    I understand what you're getting at in this column - I'm a keen follower of Test cricket but I'm enjoying the current IPL (I've never bothered watching one before). It's actually the only cricket I get to watch, being in the UK without Sky, which might harm my argument somewhat, but I also find it quite relevant and almost relaxing.

    It means that there's always some interesting cricket on when I get home from work and it's the sort of cricket I actually get to play - only elevated to the point where it's worth watching for the inspiration.