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Tanya's Take

Greedy or good?

There's plenty of over-the-top excess in the IPL, but there's a fair bit to like as well

Tanya Aldred
Tanya Aldred
25-Mar-2010
Shilpa Shetty greets Vijay Mallya ahead of the IPL auction, Mumbai, January 19, 2010

Oh you got one too?  •  AFP

The IPL3 - marmite or jam? Grotesque and greedy 21st-century monster that thrives as unrelenting capitalism stutters all around, or cricket's chance to move into the future, secure its financial security and bring pleasure to people who have limited leisure time? As I lounge in a very unathletic pose on the sofa, cup of tea in hand, packet of mini-eggs nearby, and flick on ITV4's coverage, I find myself uneasy, despite the sometimes thrilling cricket, the fun, and the obvious enjoyment of the crowd. Why? Well here goes:
1 There is something about the millionaire franchise owners wearing dog tags, understated but expensive clothing and immaculate blowdries, watching over their many-dollared playthings with a proprietorial air that is slightly distasteful. It is all a bit Lord of the Manor watching his serfs plough the field, only with vast sums of money involved rather than sheaves of barley.
2 Why are the cheerleaders all white? Aren't there any Indian dancers? Surely they could dress in a culturally acceptable way if crop tops are not considered de rigeur. Or wouldn't they be Caucasian enough to attract the American market? Am I missing something obvious here?
3 I know I've not been following cricket with unfailing devotion over the last few years, but since when has a six, the most thrilling shot in the game, been known as a DLF Maximum? Why doesn't it stick in the commentators' throats? And just how much money does it take to lubricate that particular phrase?
4 And while we're at it, what has happened to the famously rich language of cricket - especially from English-speaking Indians with a well-deserved lyrical reputation? The literary associations, the thoughtful phrase, the letting the pictures do the talking? Sixes, sorry DLF maxs, are "100% out of here". Shots are appreciated with a theatrical grunt, moan or "Woooah". Does brutish cricket have to be appreciated in brutish language?
5 What's a strategy break? And why do you need one in a 20-over game the whole selling point of which is that it takes place at breakneck speed? Ah. Of course. It must be another chance for the lucky viewer to peruse a few more advertisements for his pleasure. Because there are just not enough exploding pop-ups appearing like monsters out of the screen when a wicket falls or at the end of an over. By the by, I'd like to know how many cars Mercedes think they are going to sell on the back of this. Just how many of the 400,000 ITV4 viewers have a spare £50,000 in their pocket?
Why are the cheerleaders all white? Aren't there any Indian dancers?
And yet. And yet, it is not all bad.
This is the first free-to-air cricket to be shown on British television for five years. What a treat to be able to watch not only Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid but Shane Warne and Lasith Malinga and Dale Steyn and the odd English (or Irish) man and the young up and coming Indians without having to pay a subscription. ITV should be shouting it from the rooftops. I hope that cricket clubs the country over are sending out reminders to their colts to switch the telly on. Perhaps it can develop a niche following, as Italian football and American football at one time had on Channel Four.
For whatever the disputed wonder of Yusuf Pathan's speedy hundred the other day, skill still thrives. Anil Kumble's googly to Saurabh Tiwary on Saturday was gorgeous. Kallis has been playing beautifully. Some of the fielding has been astonishing - against the Mumbai Indians, Rahul Dravid took a fantastically athletic one-handed catch which finished with a head over heels.
Unless the television cameramen are being very careful with their camerawork, the grounds are full. The paying public look as if they are having a ball, the bands keep a constant stream of noise and the dancers do their business. The sun is shining, the game is anything but moribund. The players, too, seem to be having fun, and they obviously care - Tendulkar was waving his hands about and looking almost freaked as Bangalore crept effortlessly up on their target on Saturday. The huge amounts of money floating around obviously do not negate meaning.
The IPL is a huge sticky and sickly and delicious pudding that gives an instant sugar hit, and is a guilty pleasure. But the question is, will greed overtake us and will we stop in time?

Tanya Aldred lives in Manchester. She writes occasionally for the Guardian