Like Albanian vegetarians or Dutch mountaineers, British IPL lovers are something of a niche market, so we have to get our IPL action where we can. For some, this means those naughty internet streams that Giles Clarke warned us about, but since I have the computer skills of a three-toed sloth, this isn’t really an option. Besides, I don’t want to receive a late-night knock on my door from Officer Shastri of the BCCI’s Revenue Protection Police.
So I am slumming it in the basement of terrestrial television, on ITV4, where the IPL must compete with reruns of The Sweeney and grainy footage of car chases in Florida. But their coverage is not bad, not bad at all, like a bottle of cheap wine that turns out to be fragrant and palatable. And if you tire of listening to the presenters (which I’ve found to be around 50% of the time) you can mute them and enjoy the pretty colours in the ITV4 studio.
Their website also offers highlights, invaluable for those of us who have been unable to convince employers, relatives, friends, lovers, pets or bank managers that they must excuse us for seven weeks. I even took their IPL quiz, although it included possibly the worst pun I have ever seen. You may need to brace yourself.
“Is Richard Levi a jean-ius?”
I apologise for repeating it. Feel free to take a moment.
Maintaining my usual standard when it comes to exams, I managed 5/10 which I was quite pleased with, but apparently this put me in the “must try harder” category of IPL viewer. As a way of emphasising my ineptitude, the website then presented me with a picture of a prostrate Bangalore player’s bottom, which was particularly apt as I was about to watch highlights of the Royal Challengers being spanked by Rajasthan.
And it wasn’t only Bangalore who took a bit of a thrashing. The English language had a rough time of things too, although I did momentarily get my hopes up towards the end of the Rajasthan innings, when Siva declared, “We’ve run out of words!” Sadly, somebody was on hand to break open the emergency thesaurus and the crisis was averted. In any case, I find it hard to imagine that Danny Morrison could ever run out.
“That was cool,” he explained as Owais Shah caught the ball, “from Mr Cucumber.” This is a clever horticultural reference from DM, because as we know, Owais won a special commendation in the Salad Vegetable section at last year’s Middlesex County Show, although according to a recent interview in Green Thumbs Monthly he feels that courgettes are his true calling and he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as a cucumber specialist.
Ajinkya Rahane didn’t get a vegetable nickname, but he was the star of the show. His century included an entire over of fours that was a seminar on how to place the ball; a couple of sweetly timed cover drives, caressed as proficiently as if his first name was Sachin and this was the second hour of a Test match on a pitch that was just settling down, and an astonishing toe-ended six despatched with the wristy deftness of a magician.
Throw in a few brutal boundaries from Mr Cucumber that were particularly impressive for the fact that he didn’t swallow his chewing gum in the process and Bangalore had it all to do. Usually they are the chaps when it comes to pursuing distant totals with willow-swinging vigour, but this time they were all swish and no smash and one by one they succumbed to Rajasthan’s deadly secret weapon: the slow, straightish one that doesn’t do a lot.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England