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This, that and the other. Mostly the other
During the semi-final between Trinidad & Tobago and the Cape Cobras (wouldn't it be cooler if they were Caped Cobras?) I watched Lalit Modi sign autographs. Schmooze with other men in suits. And wave the Trinidad & Tobago flag like he actually supported them. I still don't understand why I haven't seen him kiss any babies.
In almost every way Lalit is the trendy conservative candidate that you try not to like, but who still sucks you in. He is the Ricky Ponting of sports admin.
This league of champions, runners up and teams who aren't from Pakistan looked like it was going to be an event solely for IPL owners to show off their teams like cheap gangsta bling. Another reason for IPL owners to invest in their team to get maximum exposure for the shareholders. Instead, and probably entirely accidentally, it has become a tournament where the "real" teams have come out on top.
Yesterday the world's best domestic team beat on the Gangites of Trinidad and Tobago. No franchises with cheesy songs or Bollywood hangers on, just two teams that play Twenty20 cricket very well. One a team of humble players who gel together nicely, and the other from New South Wales.
The three IPL sides might have cost roughly US$300 million to get into the competition ($170 million on the Chargers song alone), but none of them could make it into the semi-finals of the event.
That should be an embarrassment to Lalit. But bugger me if the little fellow doesn't look immune to embarrassment. Instead he looked around the tournament, realised the crowd seemed to like this other team, a team with a strong Indian flavour, and he picked up a Trinidad & Tobago flag and waved it in an uncomfortable manner.
Short of putting in a Ranji Trophy team, or a clause that says "one IPL team must qualify for the final regardless of form", having Trinidad & Tobago in was pretty much perfect. They were the underdog, exciting to watch, captained by a smooth drink of water, and with a player who had the Twenty20 logo shaved into his hair.
If only Lalit had thought about follicle branding earlier. I would buy anything that was shaved into Rahul Dravid's hair. Even DLFs and Citi moments of anything.
This tournament was a success, people who had shunned the IPL were interested, and there was even less talk of black cheerleaders this time around.
Lalit, I thank you for allowing all of us to laugh at millionaires and IPL teams while giving us the gift of Ganga. You are truly a good-hearted man. Shame about New South Wales winning, but I suppose you did that to prove that you're not omnipotent.
Jarrod Kimber is an Australian writer based in London. He can be found at cricketwithballs.com
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