October 20, 2012

Champions League 2012

What dish does the Champions League resemble?

Andrew Hughes
Rohit Sharma was out bowled to Azeem Rafiq, Mumbai Indians v Yorkshire, Group B, Champions League T20, Cape Town, October 18, 2012
Rohit Sharma is puzzled by gravity's sloppy work at Newlands  © Associated Press
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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

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Posted by Sai Charan on (October 28, 2012, 6:59 GMT)

Well and truthfully written.I see some of the fools have quickly jumped to the defence of the IPL.They are not to be taken seriously.The "Champion's" League is,as probably everyone must have realised,just an extended version of the IPL with a few more foreigners.After all,it is conducted by the BCCI and that is enough proof.

Posted by Rhythm on (October 21, 2012, 16:17 GMT)

Yorkshire on the other hand are playing very well, oh wait .....

Posted by Real on (October 21, 2012, 8:30 GMT)

Nicely written and funny as usual... :)

Posted by Pakman on (October 21, 2012, 6:57 GMT)

India don't realize it but they are sabotaging their own batsmen's growth by overplaying them in subcontinent conditions. Perhaps the BCCI will 'convince' the ICC to hold all major events in India so that the likes of Kohli, Raina & Sharma can smash all bowlers to all corners and win comfortably.

Posted by ruchit on (October 21, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

Okay for a change try writing about incompetence of ur batsmen when the ball doesn't rise abt knee height.. that involves a different kind of a skill.. As much I don't like IPL( infact I hate it)I don't need a non-Indian to tell me or Indians in general what to watch and what not.. Indian audience determine revenue flow in world cricket and if we want all IPL teams to take part in Champions league ad other teams to be just present a cheerleaders so actually would happen.We will decide what we want to see.

Posted by Timmuh on (October 21, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

Which dish? "Oiginal recipe" chicken from KFC. Every now and then you might get a hankering for it, but as soon as you sample it you remember how awful it really is and end up with a nasty taste in your mouth.

Posted by Junaid on (October 20, 2012, 20:21 GMT)

I am so fond of your witty humor. The cachinnations heard from my room while reading your material always proves me queerish. And some how recapulating the punch line to others is not that effectively humorous.

But your work is always happening for me. Thanks a lot.

Posted by Smarak Das on (October 20, 2012, 17:21 GMT)

Champions League truly shows the "Standard" of IPL Teams.

Posted by Daya on (October 20, 2012, 16:12 GMT)

Superb analogies esp. the trampoline one. One of the cleverest critiques in cricket!

Posted by Tushar on (October 20, 2012, 14:37 GMT)

Why isn't anyone talking about English teams, they'v been playing on such wickets since ages... And even perth scorchers. I guess perth is the most difficult wicket to bat on, due to its nature. The team who's home ground is such, shouldn't be sitting on the bottom of the table. So its easy to single out IPL teams and their inability to counter bounce and movement, but too hard to admit other teams have been ordinary as well...!!!!

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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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