April 16, 2014

The annual migration of the cricket hype

Andrew Hughes
"They call me Batman"  © AFP
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Can you hear it? Turn off that episode of Ravi Shastri's Celebrity Moustache Challenge, muzzle the budgerigar, confiscate your daughter's violin bow and remove the plugs from all of your neighbour's power tools, open your living room windows and there, in the distance, you will hear a faint but ominous sound.

It isn't the grumbling of Ecuadorean volcanoes or the rumble of Russian tanks moving towards the Ukrainian border on a non-provocative heavily armoured peace mission. That noise you can hear, that peculiar suppressed roar that has the planet aquiver, is the annual migration of the cricket hype.

The hype has spent the last few months in Australia, attracted to the Antipodes by the Ashes, but at this time of year, it flies north to Asia for the hype mating season: a colourful, chaotic, dew-soaked explosion of gaudy shirts, shouting, roaring, tweeting, partying and sweating, along with the occasional cricket match.

Hype watchers were concerned that this year's extravaganza might be disrupted, as an unusual amount of hot air associated with the Indian election had made conditions inhospitable in the cricket hype's natural habitat. But fortunately the hype has been relocated 2000km to the west, so cricket fans will once again be treated to their annual seven-and-a-half-week dose of frenzied franchise action.

As ever, the thing will get underway with a bit of a song and dance, although at the time of writing, we don't yet know the full line-up. Shahrukh Khan is going to sing, apparently, but that doesn't really count since he'd have been there anyway, so it's a bit like asking one of the dads at a child's birthday party to tell a few jokes before the clown arrives.

Last year we were also treated to Katy Perry and a man who, of his own free will, had named himself after a pitbull terrier. Those are hard acts to follow, although the organisers pulled off a coup by getting Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin to agree to perform a version of Edwin Starr's 1969 classic, "War (What Is It Good For)". Sadly, Vlad pulled out when he got the full Russian translation.

The cricket itself will, no doubt, be dangerously sexy, full of unexpected last-over meltdowns, acrobatic boundary-rope fumbles and the odd thunderous sermon from the blade of Chris Gayle; then after the first week the excitement will settle down into vague interest followed by slightly distracted cynicism as it dawns on the viewing public that there's another month and a half of this, before it all picks up again, come playoff time.

My record in picking the winner is an impressive 0 from 6, which given that I usually go for Punjab out of sympathy, is not all that surprising. Indeed, the most remarkable feature of this annual shebang is that no matter how many franchises come and go and no matter how often the players are shuffled around, the teams retain the same qualities every year.

Chennai will once again grind ruthlessly through their fixtures like a giant yellow points-harvesting machine; Bangalore will suffer another blow-out when it dawns on them that they haven't got any bowlers; Rajasthan will do better than anyone expected, but not well enough; and Delhi will attempt to reach the knockout stages with their usual strategy of losing every match and hoping four other teams are disqualified before the end of May.

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Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

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Posted by TheNinethSlip on (April 16, 2014, 20:11 GMT)

nice take.But unfortunately some of our more interesting sides have been robbed of the pleasure of featuring in here. "My record in picking the winner is an impressive 0 from 6, which given that I usually go for Punjab out of sympathy, is not all that surprising." It is best to start predicting after the presentation ceremony...who knows what intereting new rules might come in for the qualification to playoffs? And YOUR TAKE ON THE FANTASY LEAGUE?

Posted by ThatsJustCricket on (April 16, 2014, 18:53 GMT)

too funny...keep them coming :)

Posted by AjitRaje on (April 16, 2014, 12:14 GMT)

....and Delhi will attempt to reach the knockout stages with their usual strategy of losing every match and hoping four other teams are disqualified before the end of May - That's a cracker!!! Keep em coming Andrew!

Posted by Rawal on (April 16, 2014, 7:13 GMT)

This paragraph was the best!

"As ever, the thing will get underway with a bit of a song and dance, although at the time of writing, we don't yet know the full line-up. Shahrukh Khan is going to sing, apparently, but that doesn't really count since he'd have been there anyway, so it's a bit like asking one of the dads at a child's birthday party to tell a few jokes before the clown arrives."

Posted by naadnat on (April 16, 2014, 6:20 GMT)

u r the best columnist in this site.make it thrice a week for ipl.

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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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