May 21, 2014

How do you consistently turn victory into defeat?

The Delhi Daredevils have figured it all out

"As I always tell young batsmen: never take your eyes off the ball" © BCCI

Those of a Buddhist disposition will tell you that the world is in constant change, that certainty is an illusion, that existence is a state of flux, and that if you can't handle it, losers, then that's your problem, now get out of my way, I've got a meditation class to go to.

Evolution is no more reassuring. Those who can adapt survive; those who can't, get left behind, helplessly bleating last year's buzzwords, slowed down by their unfashionable shoes, as the herd of humankind tramp on across the savannah of progress.

Look what happened to the dinosaurs. They cornered the market in stomping and roaring, but come the meteor apocalypse, stomping and roaring were suddenly so last age. They didn't embrace change. Some of them didn't even want to look at change, although they couldn't cover their eyes with their hands because their arms were too short.

So things change. But, fellow mammals, that doesn't mean we have to like it. We might embroider our CVs with words like "dynamic" and "adaptable" and "a synergistically-focused, self-starting, paradigm-shifting zeitgeist-setter" but what we're really planning post-appointment, is to find a nice cosy desk in an quiet corner of the office, where we can drink tea and gossip until it's pension time.

Our lives are full of psychological crutches with which we attempt to ward off the mind-rending terror of the void: favourite toothpaste brand, favourite sweater, favourite toilet cubicle. Given the choice of watching Star Wars: Episode V for the 184th time or taking a step into the unknown with that new, critically-acclaimed Estonian cardigan-based drama on the BBC Bandwagon Channel, I will invariably plump for Han Solo and the ice-planet.

So in the bewildering world of the IPL, where players switch teams every year and fixtures are relocated to new time zones on a whim, let us give thanks for the rock of ineptitude, the anchor of amateurishness that is the franchise from Delhi.

Other teams enjoy giddying roller-coaster existences: dramatic victories followed by crushing defeats, followed by thrilling triumphs. They reach finals, semi-finals, go out of business, are thrown out of the league then readmitted. But good old Daredevils never change. They were rubbish last year, they are rubbish this year, and I hope I'm not going to offend too many Daredevils fans if I venture the suggestion that there is a more than an outside possibility of their being rubbish next year.

Being that bad isn't easy. It isn't possible to spend that much money without accidentally picking up one or two good players along the way. So how do you turn a collection of potential match-winners into a crew of duffers? How do you consistently manage to turn victory into defeat and defeat into even bigger defeat?

The key to all this failure is to choose the right captain. Ideally you need a player who hasn't previously been very successful in a leadership role, but who has a high profile, an active Twitter account and a point to prove. Cue Delhi's most important signing: KP. The big man took over three games into Delhi's campaign and has since put together a run of defeats of truly English proportions. Nine games: eight losses. Beat that, Alastair.

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