Like many franchise fans, over the last few weeks I’ve loaded up with IPL merchandise. My bathroom is well stocked with Preity Zinta’s Kings XI anti-bacterial wipes, my appliances are fitted with Deccan Chargers rechargeable batteries (charger no longer manufactured) and there’s a punnet of Royal Challengers strawberries in my fridge (each strawberry genetically engineered to take on the facial characteristics of a different player).
But I was most proud of my set of official IPL earplugs. Expertly moulded in luxurious ear-canal friendly foam, designed to fit snugly into even the gnarliest aural orifice, they are hand-painted with the logos of all nine franchises. This mint condition collection sat prominently on my shelf next to Ravi Shastri’s signed moustache comb and was going to be worth a fortune. Sadly it was not to be. Let me explain.
Over the last few weeks I have been training in the “Leaping Couch Potato” form of Kung Fu, and having reached Bruce Lee levels of agility, I can now dive across the room, snatch up the remote and depress the mute button in the time it takes a commentator to clear his throat. Thanks to these new skills, I have managed to avoid most of the output of the one-man noise pollution machine that is Mr Daniel Morrison.
Readers not familiar with his work may think I am exaggerating. I am not. Danny is a perfectly amiable chap but his commentary is an abomination. He emits short bursts of speech, each word emphasised in the rising tones of a manic game-show host with a faulty microphone who is forever going to commercial. Usually you have to fall foul of an oppressive government to end up suffering that kind of noise torture but IPL viewers get it for free.
So there I was, settled into my sofa, my phone unplugged, a fresh cup of Lady Grey on the side table and the Eliminator about to get underway, when I hear that Mr Morrison is warming up his vocal chords and will shortly be broadcasting. No problem. I turn to the velvet cushion where I keep my remote control. But it isn’t there. My blood runs cold. What can I do? I look around desperately but no joy. And now Danny is talking.
I say talking, but with just three games to go he has abandoned mere talking and is screaming random words and phrases into the microphone. “Boom!” “It’s all happening!” “Dancing shoes on!” “It’s RP Singh!” I withstood it for an over or two but then I cracked. With tears in my eyes I prised the Pune Warriors earplugs from their case and installed them. Naturally they didn’t work, so I used the CSK ones instead.
And from within my silent, Morrison-proof cocoon I witnessed the sad end to yet another Mumbai Indians IPL campaign. For an over or two things looked promising, but Dhoni was soon helicoptering Malinga into the crowd, and then Dwayne Smith ran out the little Master, which in IPL terms is like accidentally tripping up the Queen at an official garden party. Dwayne looked suitably mortified and in that moment all the hot air in the Mumbai blimp escaped with a melancholy sigh.
Still, although they are out, it isn’t all bad news. Mrs Ambani can at least console herself with the knowledge that her team’s song was the only one to get through the rigorous qualification process to make it onto the Hughes ringtone list. For the next three days, every time I get a call from my credit card company, I will hear the sound of “Duniya Hila Denge” and pause for a moment to think what might have been.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England