April 18, 2013

Some vital numbers from the IPL

When it comes to the spangliest league of them all, if it can't be counted, it doesn't have a value. But they're not counting everything

The IPL seems obsessed with numbers, providing running totals for everything from runs to wickets to sixes to tweets (over three million, apparently). They're even counting dot balls, and I'd guess there's some sort of a fine attached to each one. The general feeling seems to be that if it can't be counted, it doesn't have a value. But they're not counting everything. Here are some totals they've missed.

Adjectives: about three
"Great", "amazing" and "powerful". Apparently you can describe pretty much any on-field event using these words - although, to be fair, different commentators do have different palettes of adjectives. Some might swap "amazing" for "outstanding" or "dangerous" for "powerful" but they'll still restrict themselves to just the three.

False claims that the ball has been hit "out of the ground": 19
Not every big shot involves the ball being hit out of the ground. If you're on commentary, there's an easy way to tell whether this phrase is applicable or not. Is the ball still in the ground? If it is, the ball has not been hit out of the ground - it was just a plain old six.

Hideous deliveries incorrectly identified as "clever bowling": 40
No, it wasn't "back of a length" - it was a rank long hop. Nor was it "great captaincy" to put a fielder there. It was just a really, really bad shot that almost certainly came about because no batsman expects a delivery quite as filthy as that.

Inane questions to the public: Around 50
Who do you think will win, the public? Who do you like best, the public? Should Chennai have picked a second spinner, the public? Who cares what the public thinks? The public are idiots - especially those who feel moved to answer questions like these.

Commonplace incidents spoken about as if they're in some way hugely momentous: 109
A batsman hitting 38 off 24 balls? Thirteen runs off the final over? A wicket? These things are so frequent and familiar as to be barely worth remarking upon, and yet commentators routinely adopt tones better suited to an announcement that a cure for cancer has finally been found.

Angry celebrations: 300
Modern cricket culture dictates that no wicket or milestone should be met with delight. Instead, you must meet positive developments head-on with an enraged facial expression and a little bit of bellowing. Try and also make an effort to swear and curse at life itself by way of thanks for your good fortune. That'll show it. That'll show life. Screw you, life.

Nagging trumpet blasts: Let's say 750, somewhere around 30 per match
Just when did brass instruments become so hectoring? If an IPL crowd fails to make sufficient sound for five minutes, a short, parping refrain admonishes them and Pavlovian conditioning guarantees a soulless, aimless cheer in response. Can we draw a line under this practice now? It was just about tolerable when it was novel and relatively rare. Now it's old and unrelenting and most of us simply can't take it anymore.

Waves at the camera from someone in the crowd: Many thousand
"What's that on the big screen? Why, it looks rather like me. Good grief, it is me. Well, I know precisely what's expected of me here. There's no microphone, so I can only communicate using rudimentary sign language. I'll begin with a simple visual greeting…"

Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket