The Reverse Sweep

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This week we focus on the on and off-pitch action in the IPL as the season draws towards a close. We also look at Rory Hamilton-Brown’s brave riposte to the doubters, question whether Adil Rashid is in danger of becoming a batsman who bowls a bit, and as it is St George’s Day, we ask if an England win in the World T20 could help reclaim the national flag from the zealots and idiots.

The Reverse Sweep is an irreverent and sometimes acerbic round-up of the week that was in cricket. For similar musings on this wonderful game of ours please visit my blog also entitled The Reverse Sweep, read my new bi-weekly column on CricDude, or follow me on Twitter @TheReverseSweep.

Modi, Emperor Nero and Richard Nixon

The Roman Emperor Nero and former US President Richard Nixon were both powerful men toppled from seemingly impregnable thrones by a combination of greed, arrogance, paranoia and in Nero’s case, sheer depravity. Lalit Modi is not quite in Nero’s or Nixon’s league; at least we don’t think he is, but his position as the all-powerful supreme of the Indian Premier League is suddenly seriously under threat. In Modi’s case, a sequence of events following the announcement of Kochi as one of the two new IPL franchises from next season has spiralled beyond even the control of Modi’s over-reaching tentacles.

This column is supposed to be a round-up of the week that was in cricket, so we won’t go into all the details here of what we at the Reverse Sweep are referring to as Kochigate. But suffice to say, Modi upset a number of powerful people within the Indian Government and BCCI when he revealed on Twitter the complex ownership modus operandi behind the Kochi franchise. As a result, the clouds seem to be gathering around Modi with a number of these shadowy people wanting to deprive him of his empire or at the very least severely clip his wings.

All of this would have been unthinkable only a few weeks ago when Modi’s omnipresent power seemed to be more evident than ever. Indeed, with the television coverage fixation in the IPL of continually panning on celebrities in the crowd, we could see for ourselves that Modi continually wore a self-satisfied smile not seen since the Duke of Wellington left Waterloo for the last time in 1815.

Before the axe falls on Modi, those who would wield it should remember that the IPL and Champions League would not be as supremely successful without its Dark Lord. Love him or loathe him, no-one can doubt his ability for promotion, greasing of palms and sheer drive. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea; he certainly isn’t ours, but the way he has established the IPL in such a short time as the premier domestic cricket competition in the world is incredible and in its own way admirable.

But is Modi about to be the latest in a long line of powerful men who went too far and lost their crown? If so, he will have more in common with Nero and Nixon then he would probably care for.

IPL final preview: Can the Super Kings scalp the Indians?

So, we are down to the last two with Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings set to contest the IPL final on Sunday. Mumbai was indebted to Kieron Pollard for an excellent all-round performance in the first semi-final against Bangalore. He blasted 33 off 13 balls and then snared dangerman Uthappa plus Kohli and Pandey to return impressive figures of three for 17. As we wrote on CricDude, Pollard is arguably the best all-rounder in the competition and has fully justified his hefty price tag. Chennai was also indebted to one of its overseas stars, as defending only 142; Doug Bollinger took four for 13 to see his side past last year’s champions Deccan. With the final being in Mumbai, the hosts have to start as favourites with the only alarm being whether Sachin Tendulkar will be fit; ok that is a big alarm. But Mumbai certainly deserve to win the tournament given that they have been the best team throughout, topped the table with ease and have the best balance between bat and ball. Their x-factor sprinkling of Tendulkar, Tiwary, Duminy, Pollard, Harbhajan, Zaheer Khan and Malinga should see them crowned champions. We shall wait and see.

IPL3: How was it for you?

Prior to this season, we at the Reverse Sweep had not watched any of the first two years of the IPL. If we are honest, it has taken some time for us to warm to T20 and in our view it is a format vastly inferior to test cricket. Furthermore, despite all the hype created by Lalit Modi, 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, our interest was piqued and the IPL had found itself an additional viewer. We haven’t watched every game. In fact we haven’t even watched half of them, but we have seen enough to present our own IPL3 A-Z, which you can read at the following links. First Part 1 (A-I) featuring advertising, celebrity and DLF maximums. Then Part 2 (J-Q), which includes Kohligate, Lalit and Money, and then finally; Part 3 (R-Z) where Sachin, Timeouts and the IPL Villain are unveiled. Beware, Lalit may not like it!

Celebrity and the Reverse Sweep

No, we haven’t agreed to take part in Big Brother or whatever new nonsense the television programmers have dreamed up. But we have, in a strange sort of way, had a brush with celebrity this week; and it all began by accident. It all started when we included a picture of Shilpa Shetty under C for Celebrity in our aforementioned IPL A-Z. This prompted frenzied discussion on Twitter with mspr1nt retorting that Preity Zeita (who at the time, I had no idea who she was) is much better looking than Shilpa. So, we took it to the blogs. I started with Preity Zeita vs. Shilpa Shetty, and mspr1nt responded on Paddle Sweep with Dirty little girl, Shilpa vs girl next door Preity. Events continued to spiral with Paddle Sweep initiating a poll on their site and me writing another post asking Who is the hottest IPL girl? At the last time of counting, we now have six beauties to choose from. Immature? Yes. But quite good fun also. Perhaps, it is also indicative of a slow news week in cricket!

Hamilton-Brown proves his mettle

Last week we reported that Rory Hamilton-Brown had made an inauspicious start as Surrey skipper with the heavily fancied Brown Caps going down to heavy defeats against Derbyshire and Sussex in their first two games in Division 2. Despite being 22 and with only a handful of first class matches behind him, Chris Adams made the brave (some would say foolhardy) decision to offer Hamilton-Brown the captaincy. It was also a risk for Hamilton-Brown to accept the job as it could seriously affect his progress in the game if it goes wrong; although a reported 150,000 per year was understandably too good to refuse. Whatever happens with the captaincy, RHB is clearly a strong individual as his quick-fire century against Worcestershire earlier this week showed. We remember some commentary of Nasser Hussain last year where he suggested that Hamilton-Brown was made of the “right stuff”. It would seem he was correct.

Rashid the batsman

This season is obviously a big one for Adil Rashid following his shabby treatment by England over the last year. It was hoped that having the opportunity to bowl regularly for Yorkshire would help him regain confidence and further develop his promising leg-spin. It is only early days and April pitches are not renowned for being conducive to spin, but he now seems to have been relegated to the role of second spinner at Yorkshire behind the also promising David Wainwright. Rashid’s batting however has impressed and his 50 yesterday helped Yorkshire recover from a seemingly hopeless position against Kent. Let’s hope that Rashid is not about to go the way of other young English leg-spinners like Michael Atherton or Nasser Hussain, who were both apparently excellent leg-spinners in their youth; albeit ones with only a modicum of the talent of Rashid.

St George and the World T20

It will probably go more or less unnoticed in England, but today is St George’s Day. Unlike pretty much every other country in the world, England does not celebrate its patron saint or national day. Unfortunately, anyone who flies the flag of St George risks accusations of being classed as a racist, a Sun reader or both. 2010 could be a good time to reclaim the flag with both a football and a cricket world cup. Cricket’s contribution, the World T20 kicks off next week and as we have written before, we at the Reverse Sweep are confident that England can go all the way.

That’s all for this week folks.

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