Thursday, 5 April 2012

The IPL is so dull...and yet...

I finally have something to do during these boring Easter holiday weekdays.

Being at university has it's perks: getting to avoid the 'real' world for a few years, getting exceedingly drunk from time to time and meeting new people, some good, some not so good. However, despite being ridiculously work-shy (hence this blog), a four week break is not one of them.

What the hell did I do to deserve a four week break?! I do the square-root of sod all for two months and get rewarded with a month off? I never thought I'd complain, but then I never thought I'd complain about being a Manchester United fan, and look how that turned out. Unfortunately for you guys, this extended rest will probably mean a hell of a lot of pieces about nothing. And here is the first of many.

Thank goodness for the Indian Premier League. A few years ago, a number of Indian businessmen with more money than sense decided to set up the greatest cricket tournament on earth, with teams from all over India competing for the "honour" of being the best twenty-over side in the land and - by association, thanks to the ridiculous Champions League - the planet. What does this mean then? As well as meaning average cricketers can earn ridiculous sums of money, as well as lining the pockets of the super-rich, as well as finding a use for Keiron Pollard, it allows me a wonderful excuse (as if it was needed) to lie on a couch all day in my "pyjamas", watching some poor medium-pace bowler get smashed by some unknown Indian batsman or some massive South African bloke. Brilliant.

Now, I must confess that the headline (and point) of this article was to somehow lure in a few incredulous Indian supporters to boost my popularity but, at least according to Ravi Shastri, isn't that what everyone in the English media does, for example, Michael Vaughan? Last summer, Shastri accused the English of being jealous of Indian cricket, the power of the BCCI, and the IPL. After watching their farcical winter tours in 2012, I agree that being an England fan doesn't fill me with the same smugness it did six months ago, but jealous of a power-hungry, deluded, self-obsessed figure (not Samantha Brick)? Not a chance. Jealous of the IPL? I'm not quite sure yet, but this years edition hasn't exactly got off to a flier.

Yesterday, two of the most successful teams in the "franchise", the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings, went toe-to-toe in the first game of IPL 2012. Now, twenty20 cricket is often criticised for favouring batsmen, with no incentive for the bowlers as both teams rack up over 200 runs each. But at least in that instance, something happens. Yesterday was so rubbish. The Super Kings (got to love that name) were put into bat and were immediately put under pressure. Despite the efforts of Suresh Raina - more on him later - Chennai stuttered after a promising start and, after failing to score a boundary in the final eleven overs, were bowled out within their twenty overs for just 112...or something. The pitch was uneven, the outfield was slow and it resulted in an incredibly tedious match, which almost forced me to do some proper work. But, this being me, I persisted with the boredom.

In reply, the Mumbai Indians (again, gotta love that name) started well, with the aforementioned big South African bloke - in this case, Richard Levi - bludgeoning his way to fifty, which meant that the result was a formality about a quarter of the way into the second innings of the match. Despite this, there was some drama, Sachin Tendulkar had to leave the field with a cut finger (awww), an injury which may have caused half of India to panic. Anyway, Mumbai were still victorious by eight wickets with four overs to spare. Nothing exciting, nothing tense about that. All in all, a crap game.

But I'm not done there!

A few rants before I let you go:

I know MS Dhoni is the captain of Chennai and thus must do everything at around 3 miles per hour, but why did the match finish at quarter past eleven? The game finished four overs early and was essentially a dead rubber for half the game, why did I have to sit and do nothing until nearly seven o clock my time? Valuable work was missed as a result. The whole point of twenty20 is to be a fun, quick smash-and-grab format, yet it lingered on and on. I propose 3 overs a side. Twenty20 is too long, how can you play a game for three hours and still not always have a winner? (I'm joking, relax).

ITV4's coverage
Is so, so, so bad. Why is Matt Smith - a man who takes half a minute to complete a sentence - the "frontman"? Simon Hughes must be wondering why he took the job, having to hang...on...Matt's...every...word. Then they have some other pretty, boring girl, whose name escapes me, not because I'm sexist, but because she's pretty boring. I actually think it's a little sexist of ITV4 to just assume that a pretty, boring girl will get me to watch the cricket. The fact that that assumption is true shouldn't matter.

Then there's the commentators? What the hell?! Who are these guys? Some of them are OK, but Harsha Bhogle is useless. AND THEEEN, THERE'S DAAANNY...MORRISON! That's actually how he talks, and apparently I do a decent impression of him, not that it's difficult. Then there's the fact that all the commentators are just puppets, having to spurn out useless catchphrases to appease the sponsors. What the hell is a "Citi moment of success?!" How is "karbonn kamaal" an adjective when describing a catch?! What's the other one? Oh yeah!  A DLF maximum! And then there's me repeating (and researching the spelling of) these useless catchphrases, it's a canny marketing ploy, and I don't like it.

Why on earth did ITV4 pay God knows what for the rights to this (in mitigation, kind of addictive) competition. It's absurd, almost like spending $2million on Ravindra Jadeja, but then, surely no-one would be that stupid...

I said I would get back to Suresh Raina, so here I am. Raina is, without doubt, a very talented man. But not at cricket, more like baseball. This is a man who was utterly destroyed by decent bowling when part of India's touring team to England last summer. Time and time again in overseas conditions, the man has been shown to be little more than a slogger with some style. I appreciate the irony of an Englishman saying that a player can't perform in foreign conditions, but when Suresh Raina is the most successful batsman in IPL history, it tells it's own story.

I may have not made it clear, but I do actually like the Indian Premier League, I watch most of the games after all. However, this is often against my will, much like the way Nick Clegg votes for government stuff. It is often tedious, and always a bit circusy (is that a word?) The competition provides a platform for average players to be the best and play against the best. I'm fine with that to an extent, but it does remind me that the "true format", as we are so often made to hear by people like Geoffrey Boycott, is still Test Cricket. Yesterday proved to me that this will - and should - remain the case for a long, long time, until such a point when reality TV, global warming and the Tories turn our brains to mush. Then Twenty20 can succeed.

As always, this rant is just my opinion, and my apathy towards the tournament won't stop me tuning into today's cracker - The Kolkata Knight Riders vs The Delhi Daredevils. Wow. But that's just my life at the moment, waiting for people to talk to me - that means you Barclays - leaves me in this predicament. Until then, I'll get myself a drink and, like a lot of Britain - lazy, cricket-mad and unemployed - watch some sub-standard sport.


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