Indian Premier League April 26, 2012

The coolest, scariest IPL experience

I worked for a cult once.
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Mumbai fans wave flags like they are worried there is some IMG sniper on the roof who will take them down if they don’t show as much enthusiasm as possible © AFP/span>

I worked for a cult once.

It wasn’t as fun as I’d hoped.

It wasn’t some grey-alien-cloning-giant-clam style cult. It was a boring incestuous Christian fundamentalist cult.

It was rather disappointing. Even the incest sounded boring.

I’ve never found the IPL boring. I’m not anti-IPL, I just don’t care much.

I watch it in the background like I watch films with giant mutant sharks in them. I could never tell you too much about the overall plot. But there are some scenes I remember pretty well.

I’ve heard Lalit and the rest say the IPL is brilliant TV, and it is. For some it’s three hours of sport. For some it’s three hours of Bollywood sport. For me it’s three hours of background cricket.

So going there didn’t really fill me with excitement, it was just something I was heading to. Another cricket ground, another match. I’ve been to a few now.

I’ve seen cheerleaders. Fake horns aren’t new to me. Music has been blasted at me in many grounds. Crowds of overly excited simpletons are not new to me. I’m from Melbourne.

So what could going to the IPL at the Wankhede Stadium give me that I hadn’t seen before?

Outside there was little more than overexcited middle-class Mumbai teenagers with their faces painted and police everywhere. I assume they were middle class because the tickets are not cheap, and almost none of them had fake replica shirts like the Mumbai Indian (perhaps the singular usage was to make you feel like it was all about you) shirts we saw near our hotel.

My shirt was a knock off and cost me 150 rupees. To be honest, it wasn’t the worst I’ve bought.

The ground’s security had several layers, including metal detectors. Women had their own access with a modesty area so you couldn’t see them being felt up.

Once you entered you realised you and Dorothy weren’t in Lord’s any more.

Sachin. Lasith. Kieron.

All 50-foot high and staring down at you in matching Mumbai shirts.

As if that wasn’t weird enough. Like a 1930s Hollywood film premiere there were roaming spotlights dancing all over the massive pictures.

World famous people like Aiden Blizzard and Davy Jacobs were massive and spotlighted, just like they were born to be.

Then there was the large light sculpture thingy of Mumbai Indians that it was impossible to take a photo of because of all the other people posing in front of it.

Behind that you could have your photo taken with cardboard cut outs of the team, or in an action pose.

Free Mumbai Indians football style scarves were given out.

The empty space was taken up by that celestial light blue colour they wear.

This is what you see before you even enter the seated section of the Wankhede.

It’s thin and modern. If it were a person it would a tall, thin, well-dressed clubber with a slightly too trendy haircut.

It didn’t take long to find out that it was loud. Ravi Shastri came onto the screen and the crowd cheered. But considering the ground was a quarter full, and it was only Ravi Shastri, this was a massive amount of noise.

Then the noise stepped up a bit when the well-backsided Levi starting thumping the ball around.

It was during this time that I noticed the flag waving. You see it on TV, but 2D flag waving is just some muppets waving flags. At the ground it’s almost homicidal flag waving. Mumbai fans wave flags like they are worried there is some IMG sniper on the roof who will take them down if they don’t show as much enthusiasm as possible.

Then there is the countdown. People are actually encouraged to count down the final seconds of the strategic advertisement timeout. And they do it. They do it like it’s the last ever New Year’s they’ll be celebrating.

Occasionally there was a blurry shaky shot of the change-room that might have looked like Sachin. People roared.

When you’re at the ground you realise how often the cheerleaders get up and cheer for the wrong team. I’m not sure what kind of training they get, or whether there is someone electrocuting their chairs, but they get it wrong. Perhaps they are just overcome with the quality of the cricket.

Then there is the band. For people sitting pitch side at the cricketainment event of the night, they look pretty close to suicidal.

Of course there is also a DJ platform with other dancers. But that’s just for the TV, and unless it’s put on the screen most people seem to ignore it.

If the crowd find themselves accidentally not screaming their voices out, someone in the ground will press a button, yell into a mic or hit a drum to change that.

Silence is the enemy at the Wankhede.

The best proof is that is the nah nah naaaha na na naaaaah IPL Spanish horn thing. This is the noise that demands you make more noise, show more enthusiasm and that you react unthinkingly to your masters. One day this horn will be used to turn a crowd on some poor sap.

But for all the artificial noise and bulls**t, it’s never more like a cult than when one of the Mumbai Indians goes off.

When Pollard was hitting the ball really hard, the stadium didn’t need PA, music or people telling the crowd what to do.

It made its own sound. It heaved and screamed Pollard’s name like he was God returning to Mumbai. But the PA and organised fun continued on.

Later all that changed. Some time around the period Malinga got through Owais Shah, the extraneous sound went quiet.

It was just Mumbai Indians fans worshipping Lasith Malinga.

The chant had gone out earlier. This was just more. It was intense. You could see the top of the stands flapping at the noise.

It was perhaps the coolest and scariest chant I had ever heard.

Malinga could have taken this crowd to Bombay airport and taken it over in 38 seconds.

The crowd had morphed into one throbbing organism of organised lust for a curly-haired Sri Lankan that a billionaire had bought at a meat auction.

It was terrifying.

I was glad I went. Glad I survived. Glad no one ripped out the chairs and killed non-believers.

I’d go again. I’m not sure I’d ever drink the koolaid, or kill for the horn. But I’d like to watch the others do it.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fanedlive on August 2, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    More than enough cikerct recently. The IPL has no real relevance and teams represent nothing. It is a contrived competition and consequently of little real interest. HOW would you pick a team to follow OR CARE. A 20/20 comp with teams from various national groups would be more interesting. Say Qld/NSW WA/SA/TAS- Two ENG Two S/Afr Ire/Sco Three Ind you get the idea WI/Bang etc.

  • fanedlive on May 21, 2012, 9:00 GMT

    Love this article it seems to sum up what we see on TV here in England. Now im in my forties and never been a fan of 20/20 since i was a teenager and that was all we played. The games in the IPL this year have been great for what i have seen, but i couldn't tell you one from the other, it's like a fast food burger nice at the time but you are not able to tell one from the other soon after. Its fun and the players get payed and good wage, so it is good from that point of view. I'm not sure any 20/20 event is better than an other im not a hater just prefer a longer game.

  • fanedlive on May 8, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    I think your next assignment must be; Danny Morrison @ the IPL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • fanedlive on May 7, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    great read! its funny to see india not support some of their players and thats only seen in an ipl,no burnin down players houses,riotin..the only reason the int community watches ipl is not cause of india but to watch players from the international arena.really a a pity tho-india spends billions of dollars on an ipl wen three quarter of their population lives in poverty....hope theyll cut down on this and use it for worthy causes...

  • fanedlive on May 7, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    I read your article just as you wrote it - Somewhat as a passive observer. I do however often battle with myself; On occasions I find IPL monotonous and unexciting, yet on arguably more instances (Especially when KKR is playing) I have termed it an absolutely electrifying display of what some brilliant cricketers are capable of doing. Some matches completely redefine the meaning of strategy and suspense. Loved the article, the humor and the language style. Especially struck by the line "Glad no one ripped out the chairs and killed non-believers." Couldn't be more spot-on. I just wish people would stop cooking up a storm defending themselves!! Where's the good sportsmanship?

  • fanedlive on May 4, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    I enjoyed your article, it took me back to my first experience at the Wankhede.. but I have to be honest, you have really exaggerated a lot of your experiences. Well, I guess it wouldn't have been funny otherwise. As usual, some people will bash the ipl, but let's get one thing straight, the real fans don't really care what the others have to say...

  • fanedlive on May 1, 2012, 7:43 GMT

    Are you read Kurt Vonnegut lately Jarrod?

  • fanedlive on May 1, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    I love all these Indians commenting here claiming that just because something makes a lot of money means its the greatest. Is a McDonalds hamburger the best in the world because they sell millions of them? Of course not! Its about quality...and the IPL has none of it. Quantity + massive revenue generation ǂ quality. And it never has! Means nothing, does nothing for anyone (only reactions to the massive noise from Ravi Shastri & Co) and completely forgotten less than a week after the seasons finishes. God forbid anyone actually have individual thought these days...just scream and shout along with the masses when the big screen tells you to do so!

  • fanedlive on April 30, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    I was so jealous that i couldn't finish reading the whole article! Great work man ! That was just pure awesomeness!!!!!

  • fanedlive on April 30, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    super article, but ask a sri lankan WHAT 'KIMBER'M EANS TO THENM. You'll.

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