Anand Ramachandran is a writer and humourist based in Mumbai. He blogs at bosey.co.in
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After the loud and over-the-top assault on the senses that was the IPL, the build-up to the World Twenty20 was always going to be a rather subdued affair. And many of cricket's top stars are already feeling the difference.
India's Twenty20 star Yuvraj Singh has said playing the World Twenty20 will be significantly different from the experience of playing the IPL. "Things will be very different - no idiotic closing ceremony featuring impromptu bhangra from Lalit Modi, no wild after-parties, no post-match hugs from Preity Zinta," he said, before adding, "Wonder who will hug us after we win matches? Gary Kirsten? Shashank Manohar? Must find out."
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has expressed confidence ahead of the tournament. "Some of the world's best Twenty20 players are Australians - Matty Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Dirk Nannes. We expect to do very well and are confident about our chances," he said. When informed that none of these players are representing Australia at the tournament, he replied, quite logically "So what? Don Bradman, the greatest Test match batsman ever, never played for us in the 90s, but that didn't stop us from being the world's best team, did it?
"As a matter of fact, Hayden, Gilchrist and Warne did not represent India last year, but they emerged champions, right? So we're good, mate", he signed off cheerfully, leaving many reporters contemplating retirement in the wake of his comments.
While England's talismanic allrounder Andrew Flintoff will miss the tournament due to injury, his comments on immigrant communities and rap music have made headlines during the build-up to the tournament. Flintoff, who blamed rap music for violent and unruly behaviour among his country's youth, has stood by his statements. "Yep. I squarely blame people like Snoop Dogg and P Diddy for English youth indulging in rowdy behaviour like brawling in pubs, flying Tiger Moths over cricket grounds, and overturning pedalos. It's all Def Jam's fault," said a visibly angry Freddie. His theory linking rap music to unacceptable behaviour has resulted in a scramble among reporters to investigate the iPod playlists of Harbhajan Singh, Andrew Symonds and Sreesanth.
IPL commissioner Lalit Modi also has reason to be happy with the tournament beginning in a few days. "Thank god the tournament is in England, where betting is legal. Now I can run that ridiculous mobile 'skill' game that we planned for the IPL," said a delighted Modi. "Of course, it's a skill game. Only the truly skilled can SMS fast enough to be able to have the slightest chance of winning. Heh Heh," he smirked in response to a question.
New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum is also looking forward to a good tournament, after the horrendous IPL nightmare with the Kolkata Knight Riders. "Yeah, it's a bit hard to adjust. I keep thinking I'm the captain and get upset when nobody listens to anything I say," said a grinning McCullum. "Not that it was any different with KKR," he added with a mischievous wink. "By the way, have any of you guys seen the eerily weird-looking mugshots of the officials on the BCCI website? Don't miss how Arun Jaitley's chin has been cut off," he pointed out unexpectedly, before leaving for a practice session.
In other news, fans in England are grateful to get away from the annoying things about the IPL, such as the Bollywood factor, rampant commercialism, and screaming Indian fans dominating the stands. They are looking forward, instead, to such quintessentially English cricket-watching experiences as rain interruptions, warm beer, and screaming Indian fans dominating the stands.