May 27, 2015

An IPL review (without having watched a game)

The joys of bringing a clear, fresh perspective to the cricket world's blingiest extravaganza

Too late, Virat Kohli realised his team's prospects were like the chair he was sitting on: imaginary © BCCI

Thanks to a contractual dispute with Sky* I haven't been able to watch the IPL this year, so as you can imagine, it has been a frustrating seven weeks.

You can produce an approximation of the IPL experience by asking two passing acquaintances who you don't really like to sit behind your sofa shouting inane comments while you fast-forward through footage of the 2007 Indian Cricket League, flicking over to the shopping channel every 30 seconds. But still, it's not quite the same.

On the other hand, this unfortunate IPL hiatus does mean that I can approach the traditional tournament review with a clear, fresh perspective, unencumbered by having watched any of the games. So then, what conclusion can we draw from IPL Eight?

First, that there is a quantity theory of IPL success. Every team has been allocated a certain amount of IPL success by the cricket gods, but they must use it wisely. If they squander it all on a success spree, they will have nothing left for the following year. Take the sad tale of Kings XI Punjab. From heroic to hapless in the space of 12 months. Last year Glenn Maxwell was the bee's knees. This year, he's the dung beetle's hindquarters.

Second, that Delhi Daredevils' IPL success ration is rather small. Having not used any of it last year, they were able to cash in this year, with the result that they moved up from eighth to seventh. Unfortunately, that's as good as it gets.

And third, we have to accept that Chennai Super Kings are no longer the Chennai Super Kings we knew. To anyone who saw the first four IPLs, Chennai were the top bananas, the big yellow juggernaut, the unstoppable lemon-flavoured T20 force.

But to the post-2011 generation, Chennai are famous not for winning the IPL but for almost winning the IPL. They are synonymous with near-misses, with almost-but-not-quite tragic failures; they are the clumsy final stooges, the canary-coloured losers, dare I say it, the South Africa of expensive franchise cricket.

This is, of course, a good thing.

Every soap opera needs well-defined characters, but sometimes they can become stale. So it is with the IPL. Bangalore are the flash bullies with the Bolognese-red Ferraris who always come unstuck at the end of every episode. Mumbai are the prodigal sons, Delhi the luckless losers, and Rajasthan the cut-price Cinderellas. Chennai used to be the bland Hollywood heroes who bored everyone with their relentless final appearances. But they have evolved. Their character has a weakness, namely a chronic inability to win anything.

This makes them much more interesting. In the past we might have turned on the television, seen that Chennai were playing, yawned and switched over, because we knew what was going to happen next. But no longer. Now when we watch Chennai beat Delhi to go ten points clear at the top of the table, we know that their victory will only serve to make their eventual defeat in the final all the more poignant.

And MS Dhoni is no longer a two-dimensional action figure, strolling to triumph after triumph with impeccable modesty. He has been transformed. Now he is playing a much more interesting role: he is a man doomed by fate to be forever picking up the losing captain's check; he is Indian cricket's tragic hero; he is Hamlet in a yellow-polyester shirt.

*The dispute revolves around their insistence that they should be paid for providing their cricket coverage, and my counter-claim that if I give them my money they will only hand it over to the ECB, who will in turn squander it on subsidising Leicestershire's new hospitality casino or Derbyshire's multi-storey pizza restaurant, crèche and garden centre. Negotiations are ongoing, although they aren't replying to any of my letters.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. @hughandrews73

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricinfouser on May 29, 2015, 15:45 GMT

    This was hilarious. It's really embarrassing though that some people are taking this to be an attack on the ipl or something. The line between lighthearted and disrespectful is a fairly thick one guys!

  • RAJARAMAN on May 29, 2015, 13:25 GMT

    You summed up CSK, pre and post-2011 very well ... from a CSK fan

  • Venkat on May 28, 2015, 13:12 GMT

    -cont-Actually, I follow the English County championship and the last day drama of the previous county season at Old Trafford was arguably one of the best. Cheers and keep writing!

  • Venkat on May 28, 2015, 13:11 GMT

    Andrew, it was really nice of you to respond . From the eyes of an Indian fan, we feel that too many cricket writers pen an article against the IPL - not that one is not supposed to ( we all live in a democracy) but most times I feel the writer's attitude towards the IPL is like satanism and that we must unite in chorus to ward off this evil which will eventually destroy the scared and the holy. The IPL is bling, lot of backstage drama, loud, bad commentary but for sure it is Cricket nonetheless. The IPL follows the MCC rule book , but I have seen many a non subcontinent fan/writer describe it as a "circus" ," a carnival" , " certainly not cricket" - which are meaningless claims. Its not that the IPL neither allows a Sachin or Kholi two opportunities to bat, nor it allows 30 yard boundaries.An Annual tournament which runs for a month and a half is not the problem for world cricket . Problems are in 2 test series , 4 day matches and lack of cricket for Associates. -Cont-

  • Jonathan on May 28, 2015, 10:48 GMT

    As they say, if you aren't making someone angry, you aren't doing it right. I found the piece very funny. I too haven't been able to watch any cricket recently, due to my refusal to pay Sky a penny, so it's good to know what I was missing from a person in the same place as me.

    As for a report on the County Cricket without having followed it, that seems rather like kicking an invalid after they've fallen down the stairs; but some description of empty grounds, rained-off matches, and Leicestershire failing to win again should pretty much cover it.

  • Ashok on May 28, 2015, 8:28 GMT

    I don't understand why so much hatred towards IPL. There are so many Leagues CPL, BBL,BPL, SPL, SA's Standard Bank Pro , NZ's HRV. Why there is no criticism about them? What's your problem with IPL?

  • Stalin on May 28, 2015, 7:31 GMT

    Every so called expert have their own opinion but all the sports or movies or dramas depends on the simple people who loves it critics always criticize something they criticize 95% and pat some 5% then told they are neutral. People in India loves IPL, we have lot of critics will write about article on EPL how much money they spend for their clubs but cant even able to winning one WC or European Championship!!!!!!

  • Amol on May 28, 2015, 4:58 GMT

    No mention of SRH!!!! Well, cant blame Andrew. Even those avidly following and watching IPL on TV barely notice and remember that team (and this despite the fact that their captain won Orange Cap this year!!!!)


  • Jay on May 27, 2015, 22:26 GMT

    @Yoohoo: I am a proud IPL and T20 fan and will always be. I cannot imagine myself admiring or liking test cricket ever. Having said that, I believe test cricket has its place and time. But coming to Cricinfo, it seems the test purists here have no better past time other than to pick on T20 cricket and the IPL. They fail to look at the positive aspects of this great tournament and what it has done to the world of cricket. Look at England and its people. They rubbish the IPL citing the cash on offer, no loyalties etc, But they are addicted to the EPL which the last time I checked is nothing but a club league with tons of money, no national passion or loyalties etc. Their whole attitude reeks of contradiction. Just cause you cannot have a league like the IPL in your own backyard, does not mean you speak poorly about it. Oh as a footnote, nobody in India cares about county cricket either. Peace.

  • Jay on May 27, 2015, 22:17 GMT

    @ChuckyDoll: You sure you live in the USA? Cause Americans don't like to waste 5 valuable days of doing nothing and by that definition, I meant test cricket. Try baseball or hockey. Much better than watching any test match.

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