Monday, May 2, 2011

The IPL Horrors Lumber On

And so the craze, the indulgence, the ego trip drones on yet again. The IPL is a sharp plummet in cricket quality from the world cup event we just witnessed and enjoyed, this is more like a drunken after party before the real cricket begins again.

Lets set one thing straight. I like Twenty20 cricket. I believe it does have a place in the cricketing calendar, it is short, entertaining, and its all over quickly, sort of like a fun-size mars bar. It serves as a great live spectator sport, and for a while there everybody understood this, teams played along for a quick bit of fun before the real tour began.

Yep, not taking it seriously. © Getty

And then India won the Twenty20 World Cup. You see, India weren't even on board to start with. It took off in England and Pakistan, along with a handful of internationals. But after India took the honours in that admittedly fun little event, things went overboard. The love child that spawned became a cricketing monster, driven by the idea of milking the concept completely dry. The abomination known as the IPL was born, and here its legacy:

1. Overpaid Players
We all know that professional sports players are paid obscenely. Try Fernando Torres being bought for €58.5m, or (I love this one) Latrell Sprewell rejecting a $21m (USD) contract because he had "a family to feed". I guess he fathers a small island.

Cricket was once exempt from this madness, but the IPL changed all that. Gone are the day where you earn an honest pay packet and put pride above all else. Now we are talking $2.4m (US) for a couple of months of trigger happy madness. It seems like small change compared to other sporting codes, but look at our international cricketers flock to the gold. It will come to a stage were players will give up international commitments to turn out for the Nagpur Nobodys (the West Indies leading by example already).

2. Bollywood Meets Cricket
If I wanted to see Shah Rukh Khan and friends dancing, hamming, and drowning in their petty games, I know where to go, the nearest cinema. We let you have your bollywood movies, it's ok to be a fan, but please leave cricket alone.

Ugh. © AFP

3. Force Fed Advertising
Money money money, again. We have advertising thrown at us with such ferocity, between overs, between balls (!) and even during the live game by cutting the screen into an L-shape advertisement. The sponsorship banners and logos are sprawled everywhere on the ground, the boundries, and on the players kits. Everyone is out to make a quick buck, and it hurts my eyes.

4. Unfair Cricket
Ponder this. You are a young indian fast bowler looking to press for national selection, your strengths are good line and length with a hint of swing. Your assignment is Adam Gilchrist with a license to kill. Your constraints are shortened boundary ropes, a sea of spectators screaming for sixes and a pitch resembling dead wood. They might as well decapitate you too.

How are the domestic level Indian cricketers supposed to develop their trade? Bowlers get smashed everywhere, and only exceptions like Malinga have the tools to cope. Batting skills such as working the gaps, finding the singles, running between the wickets... all gone. Despite the world cup victory, Indian cricket is going through a massive shortage of good bowlers and test match level batsmen, and this is the very reason.

5. Dumb Commentary
These are real excerpts of cricinfo commentary:
  • Rayuduuuuuu! Whaddaplayaaaaa!
  • Clatterrrrrrrr! Don't mess with Malinga! 
  • ... he walks down and tries to work it to leg but ends up with a thick outside-edge that flies over and over third man! Wow!
  • ...oh he has literally smoked the pants off that one!
  • snuff is snuff, says McCullum
There is a fine line between flair and idiocy. And this is just text commentary, the audio commentators take it to another level, wailing in their chorus of never ending praise of "outstanding batting" and "incredible shot". 

6. The 'Team' Culture

There was a bit of team culture being developed over the seasons with familiar faces partnering each other, however this was all down the toilet with the ridiculous idea of putting all the players back in the lolly scramble. Name three players in the Bangalore Royal Challengers? 

"Of course, thats Dravid's team, along with Kallis, Uthappa... "
"Uh actually, Dravid is in the Royals, Kallis in Kolkata, Uthappa Pune."
"Pune? A new team?"
"Two new teams, them and the Kochi Tuskers."
"Tuskers!? From a land with a bad reputation of elephant poaching! But hey at least we see Kallis and Gayle together, exciting!"
"Actually... Gayle is in Bangalore now".

The Final Word
Given a bit of restraint (something not possible with Indian cricket), the IPL could have worked as a two week glamor event. Some of the games in this latest edition were actually a bit of fun, but two months of this? Those naysayers who complain about the world cup length are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. The only cricket serving we have is this biffathon and the West Indies A vs Pakistan series (yawn). 

Somebody save us.

1 comment:

  1. I have no idea what is good or bad batting any more watching IPL (apart from when Mahela, Sachin or Shaun Marsh turn it on) everybody else just looks like they are slogging. And all shots, regardless of merit, are hyped up in exactly the same way.

    So I've decided I'm not going to watch it anymore, it's starting to really depress me.