Tanya's Take

Tanya Aldred

Delighting in the Modi mess

Breathes there a fan with soul so dead who hasn't taken joy from cricket controversies?

Tanya Aldred

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Lalit Modi arrives at the domestic terminal in New Delhi, April 28, 2010
Sharp suits and immaculate coiffure: could they be among the reasons we love to hate Mr M? © AFP
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Hang on a minute. What is that rumbling in the distance? That low-frequency foghorn, repeatedly interrupted by a deep gasping for breath? Ah. The joyful sound of schadenfreude - being served up with a cherry on top behind a closed door near you.

It seems to be being directed towards an Indian man with very expensive glasses, pale suits and elegantly directed hair. That modest Mr Modi.

But how could his possible fall from grace spawn such feelings? It couldn't be the money, or the glamour, or the girls. The energy or the vision. Or the domination of the cricket world, or the sucking up and spitting out of cricket as a billion-dollar brand, or the almost absolute power he seemed to wield over the IPL, or the spectre that the IPL threw upon domestic cricket elsewhere…

Yes, most of Modi's enemies are in India, but there is a hearty collection of people in Britain who are not so sad to see him hiccup, perhaps terminally, in his pursuit of IPL success and wider power.

There may have been some unrestrained glee from behind the corporate doors of the ECB as charges began to be thrown around, perhaps even from Giles Clarke, whose ego and suits found a sparring partner in Modi. Potentially there were some wry smiles from those loyal, if not very lucrative, nor in some cases very loved, followers of county cricket who have had their summers chopped up and spread around as counties tried desperately to come up with an English formula for the IPL. And counties, massively in debt, now belatedly putting their heads together to see if they can hammer out some sort of British Twenty20 franchise for next season might sense a breathing space, a period of Modi-free retrenchment, if nothing else.

Yes, a spot of schadenfreude is just what this country likes best. Dodgy entrepreneur gets his just desserts... politicians with their hands in the till... upstart country that thought it could take over the cricket world - you can hear the sound of thousands of palms being rubbed together in glee.

This is not, of course, the first time cricket has presented such an obvious target for pleasurable scorn. Do you forget those feelings of suppressed hilarity when you heard that Sir Allen Stanford, he of the dazzling chest of a million dollars and the helicopter on the pitch at Lord's, was being pursued by the FBI? And that the ECB was going to have to run away fast. Or perhaps you had always thought that there was something dodgy about the glowering scowl of Hansie Cronje or the antics of Saleem Malik and were absolutely delighted to find yourself vindicated.

Maybe Shane Warne got your goat, and his positive drugs test (blamed on his mother), his disturbing way with a text message and apparent inability to keep his trousers on proved personally fulfilling. Or maybe Sharjah always seemed too good to be true, and not only because England once won a tournament there under Adam Hollioake. Perhaps it was the official England World Cup song of 1999, released the day after England were knocked out of the tournament that gave you the greatest pleasure. Or was it one of the various dodgy dossiers that have found their way into the press - the Chinese general Sun Tzu's art of war as printed out by Australian coach John Buchanan for his charges; or the English bowling plans for Australian batsmen, which on the Melbourne leg of the last tour were left on a bar stool and handed in to the local media? And so it goes on.

As Gordon Brown car-crashes in the British election, in an incident so cringe-making it is hard to listen to without wanting to hide your head in a paper bag, the trials of Modi and the IPL come as a little light relief in the countdown to May 6.

RSS FeedTanya Aldred lives in Manchester. She writes occasionally for the Guardian

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Comments: 2 
Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (May 3, 2010, 12:34 GMT)

Perhaps Modi should be roped in by the ECB to modify the way ECB views cricket and learn a thing or two about making big money from the sport. Aren't the English a nation of shopkeepers who ought to understand matters money from somebody who has made it quite easily for the Board and the franchises with whom he was associated/created?

Posted by Knightriders_suck on (May 3, 2010, 5:47 GMT)

Only problem... IPL is not going away and whoever replaces Modi will keep on pummeling ECB into dust.

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Tanya fell in love with cricket during England's Ashes-winning summer of 1985. She went on to be features editor at Wisden Cricket Monthly and a regular-ish contributor to the Guardian. She once hit a six over a sea wall on the Isle of Wight.

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Tanya Aldred Tanya fell in love with cricket during England's Ashes-winning summer of 1985. She went on to be features editor at Wisden Cricket Monthly and a regular-ish contributor to the Guardian. She once hit a six over a sea wall on the Isle of Wight.
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