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The Light Roller

Psst, the IPL has all the adult entertainment your desperate little heart craves

What can we serve you with a side of cricket today? Charming cheerleaders? Groundbreaking tech? Sexy Shastri?

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
15-Apr-2024
Dancers take to the field during DJ Axwell's set at the opening ceremony of IPL 2024 Chennai Super Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2024, Chennai, March 22, 2024

IPL opening ceremony or Sith massacre? What's the difference, really?  •  Getty Images

Hello, friend. You're here for the tamasha? Of course, of course. Come on in, let me lift that velvet rope. Don't be shy. We have all the cricketainment pleasures here that you could possibly desire.
What will be your poison? You look like the cultivated type, perhaps we can interest you in one of our newest concoctions, the Smart Replay System. Will the wonders of technology ever cease? No, no, it doesn't mean we get through the games any quicker. But we do have a few more seconds in which to cram adverts in front of eyeballs - our commercial VP says we should call it "Genius Replay System", haha.
Maybe it's the hard stuff you're into. Some top-shelf number-crunching to keep you up all night? Certainly, certainly, we can get you a private booth. Our stats whizzes will divulge all the game's secrets: Virat Kohli, good at batting; Jasprit Bumrah, difficult to get away; Hardik Pandya, not the most popular man in Mumbai. We're hoping to be able to calculate exactly how much each of Mitchell Starc's wickets has cost KKR, but currently the numbers are too high even for our supercomputers.
Whatever your tastes, we've got something to satisfy. Superstar batters, mystery spinners, interminable post-match presentations. Chummy commentators and charming cheerleaders (gora ones, obviously). SRH panning it all over the shop on a flat one. LSG defending for their lives on a turner. Just lay back and let us pour it all over you.
But wait, I see that glint in your eye. Seems that sir has something particular in mind. Don't worry, we cater for those needs, too. What'll it be today? The little-known left-arm spinner releasing a Punjabi banger? David Warner hamming it up Bollywood style while trying to flog a credit card app? Maybe you're into Ravi Shastri thirst traps, or that enduring kink: MS Dhoni's hair.
It's okay, feel free to indulge in all the stuff that they won't let you do in whites. No one is checking on your line and length here. As it says on the sign above the door, "What do they know of the IPL who only cricket know?" Just one thing: whatever you do, don't forget to take your strategic time-out.

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Talking of, ahem, bad habits… Ed Sheeran has interviewed Rohit Sharma. Or vice versa, the Light Roller isn't quite sure. There was a chuckling man with a beard involved, too. It's an obvious crossover, two global superstars, entertainment icons. One who likes cricket, one who has a daughter who forces him to listen to the other guy's music. One of whom has a lot more time on his hands now that he doesn't have to flip the coin for Mumbai Indians anymore. Sadly, Sheeran didn't ask Rohit any questions about his hair, which looks like it arrived fully formed on his head straight from an '80s pop video, but he did have some sage advice about success and failure. "You can't win the World Cup every year," he said. "But you have to know when to celebrate winning a World Cup and know when to rebuild after losing a World Cup." To which we can only add: Awkward!

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Tell us what you think about the current status of Test cricket without telling us what you think about the current status of Test cricket. Sri Lanka have denied that the sudden unretirement of Wanindu Hasaranga in time to be selected for their Test engagement with Bangladesh was a cunning ruse coinciding with the sudden realisation that an impending ICC ban from international cricket would see him ruled out of their first four matches of the forthcoming T20 World Cup (at which he will be the team's captain). Obviously we'll take their word for it, knowing that the country of Arjuna Ranatunga and Kumar Sangakkara would never dream of deploying such dastardly schemes. Either way, purists were left to lament the blow to prestige for a two-Test series played between non-Big Three nations in the shadow of the IPL, and wonder if the format can ever recover.

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Talking of comebacks, Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim are back in the fold as Pakistan prepare for the upcoming T20 World Cup. This is all in the finest traditions of Pakistan cricket, where retirements have about the same degree of permanency as ice cream left in the sun or chairmen of the board. (Amir reneged on a contract with Derbyshire to make his return, which must have made for a fun conversation with Mickey Arthur, who was also Pakistan's coach when Amir quit Tests in 2019.) Given the career trajectories of many of their contemporaries - Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz and the like - the Light Roller is offering short odds on one or both of Amir and Imad being made a selector by the end of the year.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick