This, that and the other. Mostly the other
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.
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.
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