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How can the IPL save itself? With folding chairs

Moronic marketing strategies must make way for the genius ones of the greatest sporting body in the world

Sidin Vadukut

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Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League

If I must admit love for a sport then I admit I love football.

I like cricket. No doubt about that. But drooling, sleep-sacrificing, duplicate-made in Andheri-jersey-buying, team-profile-on-wikipedia-reading devotion is reserved only for football. Only for football will I download pdf instruction manuals for abandoned old VCR players, so that I can record a thrilling World Cup match between Nigeria and Slovenia that transpires while I am in office.

But still there is a fond corner in my heart for cricket. All my life I have tried to seriously play the gentleman's - Lalit Modi's - game. However, things never worked out between us. Eventually I gave up and concentrated on competitive bodybuilding and powerlifting.

Along the way I truly understood what a physical education teacher once told us: "No game can you play as badly as you can play cricket badly."

Think about it. Think about the time you tried a hook over midwicket, missed, over-rotated, fell on your face, and were bowled, hit-wicket and stumped, all in one smooth, graceful motion.

Exactly.

You may take a moment.

Inspite of this predisposition towards cricket I have become as ardent a fan of the IPL as anyone. For the first two years I watched most matches, memorised table positions and meticulously kept track of purple, orange and salary caps.

Indeed, one of my most memorable incidents from the IPL came in the second season. It involved the Knight Riders' Mashrafe Mortaza, who roared down the pitch, looking every ounce the super value $600,000 buy he was, swung his bowling hand with venom, and handed a replacement bat to David Hussey, who was playing at the time. Mortaza then returned to pavilion to get the water bottles.

However, I am deeply aggrieved to say that IPL 3 has been quite boring so far.

There have been a few memorable moments, no doubt. During a wonderful Suresh Raina innings for the Super Kings, who can forget that moment when Modi tweeted something about Shashi Tharoor that was insidious. And then Tharoor tweeted something about Modi that was hilarious. And then Modi tweeted something about Tharoor that was libellous.

You simply don't get that exciting level of cricket in Tests.

But otherwise the tournament has been a never-ending relay of Set Max anchors, forgettable matches and desperate product placement.

Therefore I wish to immediately notify IPL authorities of a brilliant, entirely original insight I had while reading this excellent piece by Anand Ramachandran.

The idea is this: the IPL must blatantly copy marketing ideas from the World Wrestling Entertainment playbook.

Those WWE fellows are masters at taking large groups of angry men and converting them into superstars. These superstars then spend all year travelling the world, filling stadiums full of crazy ticket-buying fans.

If the IPL is able to emulate the WWE's marketing tactics, the matches will not only get exciting but the league will generate even more revenue. And some of this money can go to charities such as the Commissioner's Fund for Family Welfare.

For example, currently the IPL schedule is put out months in advance.

This is folly.

Instead audiences should only know at the last moment, when the theme music plays, which teams will be playing on the day. (Some form of ticket discount can be given if one of the sides is Kings XI Punjab and Sreesanth is not in the team.)

So let us say a match between Delhi and Chennai is in progress. It looks like Delhi are batting second and losing, when suddenly the Mumbai Indians invade the field and Sachin starts batting for Delhi. But the umpires are unaware of this as Sehwag has called them aside to have a conversation about the light.

What riveting action! TRP!

Current cricket rules disallow the wicketkeeper from tripping, slapping or tickling the batsman as he prepares to face a ball. This law must be changed. In WWE all these are allowed. Also, team ambassadors are currently not allowed to accompany their teams into the ground. This is a huge waste of resources in times of economic downturn.

Team ambassadors must not only be allowed onto the field but should also be allowed to enter into altercations with the opposing ambassadors. Imagine a Maxx Strategic Catfight Timeout where Katrina and Deepika fight it out on the pitch for a minute or two. Or half an hour. (I am willing to be involved in the rehearsals for these catfights.)

Super Overs and eliminators are simply begging to be made sexier. Instead of the current system I recommend electing one player from each team, who will be led to the centre of the pitch. Both will then be given steel folding chairs. Last man standing wins the match for his team. Imagine Chris Gayle versus Gautam Gambhir.

Finally, at least in the semi-finals, there is huge potential for a cage-match situation. Laxman Sivaramakrishnan can be referee.

In deference to cricketing norms, the final match may be allowed to proceed under regular cricket rules. But players should be allowed to wear masks. This will heighten suspense and viewer interest. Is that really really Dale Steyn or just Sreesanth in disguise?

It is only because I am a true lover of the game that I am saying all this. But if the IPL authorities wish to reward me for these inputs, I am willing to accept a 10% minority stake in the Royal Challengers Bangalore brand ambassador. You can tweet me on @sidin.

Sidin Vadukut is the managing editor of Livemint.com. He blogs at Domain Maximus. His first novel, Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese, is out now

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Posted by Dummy4 on (April 23, 2010, 18:18 GMT)

lmao hilarious article. great job

Posted by Saumyajit on (April 23, 2010, 10:57 GMT)

It is interesting that most of the posts dissing the article are ones with bad grammar.

Posted by Arun on (April 22, 2010, 19:26 GMT)

I liked the Masharfe Mortoza part... funny. I find some comments like the one by bharath241222 even more amusing. He complains that reading this post wasted 5 mins of his time by taking out an extra 10 minutes to log in and make this waste of time generally well known to all readers of this post. D'oh! Talk about cutting the nose to spite the face.

Dunno if any of you have seen a short Monty Python sketch, in which the announcer (John Cleese) says, and now for some cricket... the next shot is a pair of batsmen in a boxing ring, with all the requisite gear, beating each other with their cricket bats. Google it on youtube :)

Posted by raza on (April 22, 2010, 6:50 GMT)

Brilliant article, man.... I think all thes guys who are sneering at you, seriously lack a sense of humour.

Posted by Gopikrishnan on (April 22, 2010, 6:34 GMT)

Siddin! what a super article.I almost laughed my heads off.My favorite was that Sachin Tendulkar coming to bat for Delhi part.Absoulutely awesome!But this is something that happens in WWE.Someone distracts the ref and out comes another wrestler who beats up the guy.While all this is happening the ref pretends to not know anything that is happening right behind him.I used to watch that stuff but soon stopped after realizing they were making fools of viewers.

Posted by manoj on (April 22, 2010, 5:11 GMT)

lmao!!!.. double thumbs up ..... :)....

Posted by Albin on (April 22, 2010, 4:18 GMT)

This is superb. Even I like the IPL to be like WWE... I am waiting for the catfights

Posted by Harish on (April 22, 2010, 4:14 GMT)

Great work sidin, i guess , after in-over advertising, boring shots of the limp blimp, modi may find more exciting ways to spruce up , that is , if he survives the current melee, which doesn't seem possible. Still there might be a chance of that cat fight next season, it would be interesting to see if there will be tag team championships when the non striker can face the ball in situations when , ishant is up against malinga while ganguly is on the other end, lambu can simply tag sourav

Posted by Vivek on (April 22, 2010, 3:38 GMT)

This is Article is Lame!!

Posted by Dhaval on (April 22, 2010, 3:05 GMT)

ZZZZZZZZZ..... Absolute boring.............. And its a shame that cricinfo is gona pay you for this twaddle....

And may be Cricinfo should play some music and then the article write should be published.....

Or better someone must use a few WWE moves on to you....

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Sidin Vadukut
Sidin Vadukut has been writing extensively about cricket since he started writing this column for ESPNcricinfo. He comes from a family of footballers, who all nurture virulent hate for cricket in general and Basit Ali in particular. Vadukut is the author of the Dork trilogy of office-culture humour novels. By day he is a columnist and editor with business daily Mint. At night, depending on when he gets off work, he goes home or fights crime. His favourite cricketer is Saeed Anwar. By which he means Sachin Tendulkar. Jai Hind.

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Sidin VadukutClose
Sidin Vadukut has been writing extensively about cricket since he started writing this column for ESPNcricinfo. He comes from a family of footballers, who all nurture virulent hate for cricket in general and Basit Ali in particular. Vadukut is the author of the Dork trilogy of office-culture humour novels. By day he is a columnist and editor with business daily Mint. At night, depending on when he gets off work, he goes home or fights crime. His favourite cricketer is Saeed Anwar. By which he means Sachin Tendulkar. Jai Hind.
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