IPL 2013

Spare a thought for the elephant in the room

Everybody in the IPL tried their best to ignore it even as it defecated prodigiously

Andrew Hughes

Comments: 6 | Text size: A | A
Rohit Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar with the trophy, Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians, IPL final, Kolkata, May 26, 2013
... and they lived happily ever after © Pragyan Ojha - Twitter
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Sunday's conclusion to the Indian Denial League was a little uncomfortable; an obligatory family gathering at which there were so many things that people didn't want to talk about out of politeness that conversation was reduced to the weather, the score, and agreeing that Sachin is marvellous (of which more later).

The pre-match internet talk had been full of gung-ho messages from yellow-themed Twitter account holders, exhorting their team to stand tough, be tall, ignore the haters, believe in themselves, and above all, to ignore the enormous elephant that was taking up three quarters of the living room and defecating prodigiously on the very expensive carpet.

On an occasion like this, you have to feel sympathy for the commentators. Yes, really. They were contractually obliged to give us a rousing aural finale, whilst staying in tune with the sombre mood; they had to put their words of praise in context, without mentioning the context, and throughout, they were tip-toeing across an eggshell-strewn obstacle course.

The usual style of Twenty20 commentary is to swing at everything, but this was a night for playing each image on its merits. Ravi Shastri has been around long enough to know when he's batting on a dodgy wicket, so didn't make the mistake of committing himself too early. At one point the producer bowled him a tempting half volley outside off: a picture of the moon disappearing behind clouds. He wasn't falling for that.

"What a sight that is," said Ravi, shouldering arms.

The cricket was a bit ho-hum. In other circumstances, I'd be tempted to say it seemed like one of those fixtures that neither side wanted to win. The best bits of Mumbai's insipid effort were the touching exchange of air kisses between Morris and Pollard, and Bravo catching big KP amidships, discreetly described by Mr Shastri as, "A little tickle on the unmentionables."

Then it was Chennai's turn. Malinga had got his radar fixed since the second qualifier and was in havoc-causing mode. First he detonated Hussey's stumps, before cleverly outsmarting Raina. He put a fielder at short-backward square leg for the short ball, then bowled a short ball, which Raina steered to short-backward square leg.

Chennai's dugout features a small glass case, and in an emergency, they break the glass, pick up the yellow telephone and call for Badrinath. But even the utility superhero couldn't save the day. He survived an examination from Malinga, who almost had him leg before wicket, bowled and caught behind off the same ball, but was soon out fencing at Johnson.

"Chennai are in a real fix now," the commentators didn't say.

It got worse. Bravo played a dinky little chip shot, and the fifth Musketeer, Ravindra Jadeja, hit one straight up in the air, before exiting stage right, twirling his moustache.

Yet while the Super Kings batsmen were busy committing cricket suicide with shots of apocalyptic stupidity, our attention was snatched from the cricket for the inevitable pitch-side interview. This being the final, they had lined up one Sachin Tendulkar. He did his best, and so did Harsha, but it went on for ever, and by the end the commentators were reduced to talking about how well Sachin wielded his microphone.

At least I think they were, I wasn't really listening. It may not be top of the list of important IPL-related investigations right now, but I think we need to know who made the decision to turn the in-game interview from a briefly irritating gimmick to an interminably yawnsome, teeth-itchingly frustrating distraction. There's a time and a place for amiable platitudes, and that is after the game, when viewers can safely change channels without missing anything.

Back at the cricket match, Dhoni and Morkel nurdled and nudged a bit, but like a Coldplay album, it was a bit depressing and wasn't really going anywhere. The Chennai innings, like the tournament itself, was limping to a sad, going-through-the-motions conclusion as Dhoni sensibly paced the run chase, steering his team coolly, calmly and doggedly to a total of 125. Unfortunately, Mumbai had scored 148.

Usually there's a back-to-normality drabness about life post-IPL, an after-the-festivities come down. This year, it feels like a party that everyone is glad to leave. Time for everyone to go home, think about what happened here, and decide whether we want to do this again.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

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Comments: 6 
Posted by   on (May 30, 2013, 19:29 GMT)

This year's ipl felt dull. It had exciting, thrilling and fun matches as usual but it became boring afterthe playoffs started.Even the players did not celebrate much. The ipl is becoming more predictable every and so is csk

Posted by caught_knott_bowled_old on (May 29, 2013, 2:56 GMT)

"Bravo catching big KP amidships"...appropriate choice of adjective. Andrew Hughes' article about the IPL final was the best thing about the final. The SRT interlude and the commentator's (HB) gush and gurgle was unbearable.

Posted by Cricket24 on (May 28, 2013, 19:49 GMT)

So funny!!! Made my afternoon

Posted by village_cricket on (May 28, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

Andrew you did it again. A rip roaring article

Posted by   on (May 28, 2013, 15:27 GMT)

There is no better sport than cricket that can offer so many avenues for the humour writers. Thanks Andrew for this piece!

Posted by Kohli--The_Messi_of_Cricket on (May 28, 2013, 11:28 GMT)

LOL, a nice one from Mr.Hughes. Best parts of this article were:

the producer bowled him a tempting half volley outside off: a picture of the moon disappearing behind clouds. He wasn't falling for that. "What a sight that is," said Ravi, shouldering arms.

"Chennai are in a real fix now," the commentators didn't say.

the fifth Musketeer, Ravindra Jadeja, hit one straight up in the air, before exiting stage right, twirling his moustache.

like a Coldplay album, it was a bit depressing and wasn't really going anywhere.

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Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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Andrew Hughes Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73
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