Archive for the ‘IPL’ Category

So now we actually get to watch it, and now there are actually some of our players in it, it turns out that the English don’t actually mind the IPL.  The over the top chutzpah that so infuriated us is in fact rather fun if we feel like we are involved.  It even goes on for far too long, which is how cricket should be.  It can’t be too long before we see the Mongoose unleashed at Taunton or a trumpet ring out at Canterbury.  Yet there are still some grey areas which seem to be bugging people.  With tongue firmly in cheek, let’s fix them.

The Mongoose

If some wally wants to go out with half a bat, let them I say.  However, the murmuring that this is somehow unfair on the bowlers won’t go away.  The Mongoose is a smaller bat which allegedly makes it easier to hit the ball miles.  Therefore, every time the batsman calls for his Mongoose, the bowler can call for a Cobra ball.  This is a ball double the size, but double the weight as well.  Let’s see Haydos belt that one for 6 from chin high while holding what looks like the stubby end of a pool cue.

Time Outs

I don’t really know what a tactical time out is, or why you would need one.  I like to imagine that they might be a Phil Brown style rant, so let’s show this rather than another advert for a mobile phone I have never heard of.  Stephen Fleming in front of a whiteboard bellowing at Doug Bolinger for bowling a long hop is my kind of entertainment.  Get Sharpies to sponsor the whiteboard, and everyone is a winner.


Seemingly an attempt to turn cricket into the Tour de France.  If you are going to do it, do it properly.  Get the leading batsman and bowler wearing proper crowns while they play.  The idea of seeing Jaques Kallis play a perfect drive through the covers while wearing a gold crown pleases me.  Not only that, it brings out the gentleman and amateur history, which is bound to cheer up the old duffers.

Free Hits

Poor old Ian Bishop.  He has to commentate on a game that he sounds endlessly bored by.  The only time he really gets animated is when a bowler oversteps, allowing a free hit.  “It’s too far!” he moans.  “The game is too lenient to the batsman!”.  Chin up Bish.  Every ugly hack which the batsman fails to connect with, the bowler gets a “free aim”.  No batsman, but no keeper either so if you miss the stumps, it goes for 4.  The umpire gets final say on what is “ugly” – to ensure fairness, Paul Collingwood is exempt from this rule.

 All ideas copyrighted to me.


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OK, so this was going to be an IPL rant.  Two things have changed that – firstly, it seems quite easy to have a pop at it.  Instead of “tea breaks” there are “Time Outs” and “DLF Maximums” have replaced well run twos.  Finding fault with that is just too damn easy.  Secondly, I have actually quite enjoyed the bits of it I have seen.  Granted, it is the “American Pie” to test match crickets “Shawshank Redemption”, but if you treat it as such it can be a decent couple of hours of fun.   Here are the best bits so far:

 Jaques Kallis

 When I saw VVS Laxman playing ugly hoick after ugly hoick, I wanted to cry.  It felt like watching “Dumbo” when the circus director makes the baby elephant become a clown – “he can do so much more than that!” I wanted to scream at the television.  It was distinctly uncomfortable viewing.

Yet, on the flip side was Jacques Kallis.  Now, big Jacques is hardly the most popular man in world cricket.  But watching him manoeuvre the all around in this format has been one of the great pleasures so far.  Normally, to watch a Kallis masterclass you have to sacrifice 10 hours of your life.  Now, we can watch him knock up leisurely 80 in a lunch break.  Suddenly, a guy dropped from the national side for batting too slowly 3 years ago has become the best player in the IPL.  Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

 The Mongoose

 Not for the alleged big hitting that it now gives him.  Imagine a troll who has had his club removed and replaced with a bunch of flowers, and that is a pretty good representation of how big Haydos looks grasping his mini bat.  It is almost impossible to take him seriously, even when he is hoofing the ball into orbit.  Surely 10 extra metres and a zero on the end of his paycheck isn’t worth this?

 Cut Down to Size

 Exhibit A – Shane Warne sees his star-studded side get thumped everywhere by a vicious Yusuf Pathan.  Never one to go over the top, Warne casually calls it the best innings he has ever seen. 

Exhibit B – Days later, someone bowls a bouncer at him and realises he doesn’t have a clue what is going on.  Not many players get the opportunity to get tall flower syndrome in the IPL – watching a player get built up then quickly knocked down is the basis of English sport as a whole, which may be why it strikes such a chord.

 Typical England

 England players love to give their selectors a headache.  Outcasts Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah have bashed the ball around with gay abandon, looking for all the world like seasoned pros.  Meanwhile, amongst the players who actually might get a game for England, Michael Lumb has looked out of his depth, Mascerenhas is now injured, and Eoin Morgan has done a bit of general fielding before watching everyone else have a bat.  Allegedly, Graham Napier is with a franchise too, although I refuse to actually believe this.  No wonder Andy Flower is losing his hair.

 The TV Coverage

 Wherever it is, it is of course horrendous.  Yet bear with it, and it is horrendously brilliant.  In India, Ravi Shastri does an excellent turn as the slightly unhinged uncle, while Robin Jackman waxes lyrical about the state of the outfield to anyone who will listen.  Back in England, awkward looking presenters talk to even more awkward looking studio guests.  The best bit of analysis so far?  Clive Lloyd suggesting that the Royal Challengers were “in a strong position to win this game” against the Royals.  At the time, Bangalore needed 8 runs to win from 11 overs with 10 wickets in hand.  Thank God for the ex-pros to keep us mere mortals informed! 

 Super Overs

 For the man who is bored by the middle overs of a T20, although admittedly with all the fussing around with field changes, interviews and bat changes a One1 seems to take about an hour to complete.  Most hilariously, both sides actually struggled to see out the over.  Dumbing down cricket?  Probably.  Great fun?  Certainly.

 Mixing it Up

 What makes the Premier League boring is the brain-numbing inevitability of it all.  Man United or Chelsea will win, maybe Aresnal or Liverpool will challenge if they mess up.  The IPL has no such problem.  Rajasthan have gone from champions to laughing stocks in two short seasons. Meanwhile, the Knight Riders have gone the other way.  The best reason anyone can come up with for this?  Why, the fact that they have changed their kits of course.  Ah, sod it – you’ve got to love the IPL.

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I’ve been lucky enough to have this Friday off, which is great for a cricket fan if you like village level entertainment.  First, I got to see Tamim Iqbal struggling to break the 40mph barrier in the last over of the day in Chittagong.  Then, over to Kingstown to watch the Zimbabwe race to 19/1 off the first 4 overs in the ODI, of which a grand total of 2 come off the bat.

 So my hopes rested with the opening of the IPL, for the first time broadcast on “free to air” television in the UK.  “Free to air television” being ITV4, home of such high brow entertainment as “Cops With Cameras” and “World’s Wildest Police Videos”.  Here is how its opening stint went, as I continue on my endless mission to be entertained by T20 cricket: 

 1.50 – While UB40 entertain the masses at the IPL, ITV4 are showing “The Champions” – a fantasy espionage drama which apparently came before special effects or acting ability were widely available.

 2.13 – A Geordie introduces the coverage, rather bewilderingly over the sound of an F1 car.  Cue the generic Bollywood music!

 2.14 – A woman in a sari who I have never seen before tells us why cricket is no longer boring thanks to India. Mandira Bedi is her name.  Hoggard and Hick in the studio – Hick seems to wearing a shiny metallic shirt.  “You’d have smashed it out there, wouldn’t you Graeme!” proclaims Matt Smith, the other presenter.  Hoggy looks faintly embarrassed.

 2.20 – A half decent preview of all the teams is ruined when Adam Gilchrist is named as the Deccan “stumper”.  Dear God.  Smith continues to try to make jokes, which Hoggy and Hick gamely smirk at.  Mandira seems to actually have an idea what is going on and is carrying the coverage, which is promising.

2.30 – Over to the toss.  Ravi Shastri seems to have lost the plot a little, and is bellowing like a madman.  Gilchrist wins the toss, and will bowl.  “Any reason for that” shouts Shastri.  “Awww, no” says Gilchrist.  “The toss doesn’t matter” says Ganguly.  Thrilling stuff.

 2.31 – They are talking about South African soil back in the studio.  Hoggy tries and fails to hide just how bored he is by this conversation.

 2.33 – “Ravi is an excitable man” smirks Mandira.  I laugh, then realise I should probably grow up.

 2.39 – A clip of the opening ceremony.  Someone else is singing “Dancing on the Ceiling” while Lionel Ritchie dances around like a Dad at a wedding.  Meanwhile, about 200 dancers are on the outfield in huge white shapeless costumes.  I’m starting to think this is all just a very strange dream.

 2.43 – The teams are in.  The Knight Riders have McCullum, Mendis and Gayle in their squad.  Their 4 overseas players tonight?  Hodge, Matthews, Langeveldt and Shah.  Hmmm.

2.50 – The Kinght Riders are 0/2 already.  Dear dear.

 So how is the ITV4 coverage shaping up?  Wooden, as expected, but there is oddly some potential there.  Finding a clued up female presenter is a definite bonus (Cricket AM take note).  The problem will be finding anyone who has heard of ITV4, let alone will know that there is cricket on it.

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