Prior to this season, the Reverse Sweep had not watched any of the first two years of the IPL. If I’m honest, it has taken some time for us to warm to T20 and in my view it is vastly inferior to test cricket. Furthermore, despite all the hype created by Lalit Modi and his gang of reprobates, the IPL is a domestic Indian league and even with the plethora of star names, as non-Indians the competition held little appeal for us. But with ITV4 showing the action this year and a World T20 just around the corner, my interest was piqued and the IPL had found itself some additional viewers, albeit part-time and slightly cynical ones.
With the regular season now ended and only the semi-finals and final to go, now seems an apt time to summarise my thoughts on the IPL experience. I haven’t watched every game. In fact I haven’t even watched half of them, but I have seen enough to present our take on IPL3 in the form of an A-Z, with A-I today and then J-Q and R-Z following over the next two days.
Whilst we appreciate that the players need to get their astronomical salaries somehow, the amount of advertising is beyond belief. The renaming of a six as a ’DLF maximum’, the timeouts and the television commentators acting as walking advertising hoardings do all detract from the action. Modi’s vast ambitions for the IPL stretch to it competing equally with the NBA and NFL; in terms of advertising he is there already and may even have surpassed the Americans in tactlessness and greed. Our abiding memory of IPL3 will be the advertising, which is a shame.
And lots of them. With bowlers increasingly fulfilling the role of hapless christians to the lions of the batsmen, the boundaries have flowed. So far there have been 1622 fours and 552 sixes, which by our rough estimation is approximately 29 fours and 10 sixes per match . Boundary ropes have been brought in and for the most part pitches have been deliberately prepared with the batsman in mind. It is to be hoped that the IPL administrators will realise that cricket (even T20) is better where there is an equal battle between bat and ball. So more spicy pitches and bigger boundaries next season please.
It seems that India has fallen foul of the modern curse of celebrity that has afflicted the rest of the world. Cameras continually pan to whichever Bollywood actor or actress is in the crowd when the focus should be on the cricket. The IPL is the closest thing cricket has come to football and in our opinion that is a bridge that shouldn’t be crossed. Shilpa Shetty may be attractive (and mention of her gives us an excuse to include a picture of her!), but not for the 100th time during the course of a match.
A six is one of the great things about cricket; providing they are a rarity rather than once every couple of overs. The crowd roars, the commentators splutter praise and the batsman basks in the glory. Unfortunately, the IPL has even taken to commercialising this wonderful event by renaming a six as a DLF maximum. How the commentators can lower themselves to call it by that name, we will never know. Also, please see Boundaries for our view on the alarming frequency of sixes in IPL3.
The IPL doesn’t do understatement or humility. Modi says he wants to conquer America and make the IPL bigger than the English Premier League and the NBA. The worst exaggeration though came from Shane Warne when he described Yusuf Pathan’s 37 ball century against Mumbai Indians as the best he had ever seen. What, better than Laxman’s 281 at Kolkata whilst you and the rest of the Australians toiled in the field? Better than the many hundreds that Lara and Tendulkar scored against you Warney? Get real.
What has to be remembered when watching the action is that it is not humble teams we are watching, but franchises; and the IPL is big business. Witness the constant talk of corruption and the huge sums of money tabled by bidders for the two new IPL franchises to be awarded from 2010. In the end Kochi and Pune won the day, but with a new player auction on the horizon, fans could see wholesale or even complete changes to their line-ups for IPL4, making the summer transfer merry-go-round in football seem small fry. How this will affect supporters awaits to be seen as people that support Mumbai because of Tendulkar may face a decision whether to change allegiance to another team should Mumbai be outbid in the auction for his services.
The lack of understatement in IPL3 has extended to the garb worn by the teams. We have sometimes had to don sunglasses whilst watching the action in order not to bring on a banging migraine. Delhi, Bangalore, Deccan and Mumbai all have decent enough apparel, but some of the other kits are plain horrible. Kings XI Punjab’s grey and red garb is as dreary as their cricket was for most of the season, Chennai’s yellow number has blinded most of its supporters and Rajasthan’s gold sleeves look a bit strange. But worst of all has to be Kolkata’s purple and gold number. How Chris Gayle and company can keep a straight face with those gold pads, I do not know. Absolutely hideous.
As in the reigning champions Deccan Chargers. Banned from playing at their home ground of Ahmedabad, Adam Gilchrist’s team has been forced onto the road like a band of wandering minstrels; albeit highly paid ones. It looked like this nomadic existence plus the dulling of the talents of former greats such as Gilchrist and Chaminda Vaas would see the Chargers experience a damp squib of a season. But they regrouped and won their last five matches to reach the semi-finals. And who would bet against them retaining their crown now?
Watching the action unfurl on ITV4 has produced several cringe inducing moments of car crash television. The studio presenters and summarisers for the most part have been terrible especially the bloke who worked alongside Mandira Bedi. He was so wooden he could have given Pinocchio a run for his money. The commentary too has been poor with the aforementioned shameless advertising and hyperbole turned up to the maximum. So our gratitude to ITV for showing the action is somewhat tempered by the awfulness of the coverage. Sky Sports must step in next season.
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