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The Heavy Ball

The perils of playing your natural game, and a marvel of technology

Fleming admits he made a mistake with Badri, and Modi quashes more vicious rumours

Stephen Fleming during a Chennai Super Kings practice session, Cape Town, April 16, 2009

Stephen Fleming adroitly uses the threat of a karate chop to the neck to dissuade his wards from playing their natural games  •  Getty Images

As the IPL approaches the mid-way point, many teams who would have considered themselves title contenders before the tournament find themselves scrambling for survival.
Chennai Super Kings, in particular, would have expected to be in a far stronger position at this point in the league. Their coach, Stephen Fleming, has admitted that some of his ideas haven't quite worked out as well as he'd have liked.
"I must agree that asking S Badrinath to go out there and play his natural game was a big mistake. I didn't realise that his natural game consisted entirely of solid-looking defensive strokes, a wide range of shots that somehow all go directly to the point fielder, and a few ill-executed dilscoops for comfortable singles. Not quite what we needed at the time," said Fleming. "Additionally, it was unwise of Badri to attempt that mid-pitch victory chest-bump with MS Dhoni, even before the match was won. We must keep victory celebrations to celebrate actual victories, not minor events such as a quick push past mid-on for a brace. It's something we'll have to discuss at team meetings," he added, giving valuable insights into the inner workings of a leading sports team.
Fleming also defended the continuing selection of MS Gony in the playing XI, despite his repeated failures in all three departments of the game (Gony might even have failed in the fourth or fifth departments, if cricket actually had such things). "You have to realise that form is temporary, but lack of class is permanent," Fleming offered by way of justification.
Meanwhile, the Indian sports minister Mr MS Gill's recent criticism of the IPL as being "only about entertainment" has elicited a slightly amused response from IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.
"Say, what? Only about entertainment? Really? I suppose the honourable minister would prefer it if we fine-tuned the tournament rules so that it would educate the public on sanitation, basic calculus, and the life and times of W Somerset Maugham? Maybe we should just replace the cheerleaders with history professors, and the advertisements with random clips from the UGC programme?" joked Modi, who was immediately inundated with text messages from anxious fans who took him seriously.
"I agree that the IPL is about entertainment, but so are Indian Olympic sports, which the ministry handles. It's just that while we entertain spectators, they focus on making sure that the various sports association officials have the time of their lives. So we're not that different, really, when it comes to modifying rules to focus on entertainment," he argued. Mr Modi also refuted the common allegation that the BCCI and the IPL were killing other sports in India. "What nonsense. We're not even done killing cricket completely yet, so the question of wasting valuable resources on killing other sports does not arise," he snapped.
Following the sensational success of the MRF blimp, which was described by Sunil Gavaskar as something that was "at the forefront of technology", the IPL is asking sponsors to introduce other marvels of modern science for the commentary team to swoon over. Some initial ideas reportedly include a fountain pen, a student's microscope, and a Rubik's cube. Danny Morrison has already been spotted practising some high-pitched squeals of delight in anticipation.

Anand Ramachandran is a writer and humourist based in Mumbai. He blogs at Any or all quotes and facts in this article may be wholly or partly fictional (but you knew that already, didn't you?)