What dish does the Champions League resemble?
Before we start, I feel I should offer a warning, particularly to those of you who haven't had your lunch yet. When I sat down to write this I hadn't had my lunch yet either, which is why, as I tried to sum up where the Champions League fits amongst the many tempting dishes on the crowded table at the cricket lover's banquet, things took a gastronomic turn. So if you skipped breakfast or you're trying not to think of that piece of cheesecake in the fridge, please feel free to go straight to the third paragraph where there are no food metaphors whatsoever, although there is a bit of IPL satire. If you haven't had your lunch yet and you're sensitive to IPL satire, perhaps you should start at the fourth paragraph. Or maybe the fifth.
Anyway, on with the overly-contrived analogy. I think we'd all agree that Test cricket is a steaming bowl of goulash. It's stodgy, it looks unappetising and it takes forever to prepare, but it's a proper plateful and it fills you up. The IPL is a double Big Whopper with fries. And the Champions League is a stir-fry. You take a mess of ingredients from different continents, throw them all together and see what happens. It looks interesting, but it doesn't really taste of anything and half an hour after it's finished, you're still hungry.*
Although champions feature prominently in the title, there are a suspicious number of non-champions hanging about and a few champions who weren't even allowed to take their coats off before they had to leave. This is because the structure of the Champions (and Friends) League is designed to keep the number of non-IPL teams who make the semi-finals down to a manageable number for the sake of Indian television (zero, for example).
But as any Bond villain will tell you, carefully laid plans for global domination do not always work out. At the time of writing, thanks to a combination of rain and incompetence, only one IPL team, Delhi, has managed to win a game and that was against another IPL team, Kolkata, who had forgotten to pack their enthusiasm. By the time you reach the sixth paragraph, we could be three IPL teams short of a quartet.
How has this happened? Well, having watched Chennai against the Lions, I think the answer is that some Indian batsmen are getting over-excited. It's like that moment when a child sees his first trampoline. Having spent most of his life up until that point jumping up and down on sofas, beds, siblings and the feet of elderly relatives, he rushes to embrace this new means of elevation with such giddy enthusiasm that invariably his breakfast ends up all down his t-shirt.
So it is with some Indian batsmen. After years of batting on subcontinental pitches, the sight of a spherical object bouncing above knee height causes them to go a little crazy. Against the Lions, Jadeja holed out trying to be the first cricketer to launch a ball into space and Raina tried to flat-bat a short one for a straight six, a shot which, to execute successfully, would require a blade of Bollinger proportions and arms like a sumo wrestler on steroids.
"How well has he hit that?" purred Harsha, as the ball flew straight to mid-off. I'm not sure whether viewers were supposed to send in their responses to this particular quiz question, but I can reveal that the correct answer was "not very".
* For those who may be interested, the County Championship is a soggy cheese and pickle sandwich
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England