Does the IPL deserve its reputation?

IPL 2018 anthem (all images via YouTube)

The 2018 IPL is underway. It is the 11th edition.

Back in 2008 the IPL was a bombastic upstart that threw huge sums of money at all the big name players. Now it is a bombastic-yet-fairly-well-established competition and it only throws huge sums of money at some of the big name players, but also at a few players who you don’t really know all that well.

Things have changed but things also haven’t changed. Either way, it’s a good time to take a look at the IPL’s reputation to judge whether or not it’s deserved.

One of the challenges of attempting to do that is that it’s quite hard to pin down the IPL’s reputation. The tournament is vast and sprawling and different people have very, very different opinions on it.

We took the not-at-all scientific approach of asking a bunch of people who happened to be on Twitter on a Saturday afternoon to try and sum up the IPL’s reputation. After that, we cherry-picked answers that we felt had the ring of truth about them. The end result was a series of different qualities, each of which we will now examine.

This is not a short article, but hopefully it is the kind of article where you are happy that it’s long because you find it to be fun and enjoyable and not the kind of article where you’re forever checking how much you’ve already scrolled through and how much scrolling you still have left to do.

Here are some commonly mentioned aspects of the IPL’s reputation and analysis of whether or not they are deserved.

(1) The IPL is over the top, gaudy and ostentatious

Here’s a shot from eight seconds into this year’s IPL theme tune video.

At this point, you’re quite legitimately concluding that what’s about to follow is probably not going to be a work of extraordinary subtlety.

This is ten seconds in.

Hitting a flaming ball with a cricket bat initially seems kind of ludicrous, but two seconds later they’ve already made hitting a flaming ball with a cricket bat look like a very reserved way to promote a cricket tournament. It does after all greatly focus on cricket, rather than on tigers.

Our favourite part of the tiger shot is the disclaimer beneath which states: “These are stock shots and no animals were harmed in the making of this film.”

They say that because this is what happens next.

The tigers blew up!

Or at least an explosion was displayed at the exact moment that the tigers walking out of the fire towards one another would have touched noses. Maybe it’s a logical leap to conclude that we’re meant to see this as exploding tigers, but we put it to you that it’s a logical leap we are encouraged to make.

This is a very important example of how big things are marketed in India.

Here is a thing that no-one in India has ever said about marketing a big thing: “It’s good, I like it – but do you not think that maybe it’s just a little bit too much?”

No-one has ever said that. No-one will ever say that. Subjected to an assault of singing, dancing and explosions, people are far more likely to say: “Maybe we should have more singing, dancing or explosions.”

Then someone else will turn to them and say: “Let’s have more of all three.”

Everyone will nod and agree and then at some point someone will suggest the addition of tigers.

Here is another very minor, low-key example of the phenomenon. It is nice and small and manageable and easy to understand. When they named the Chennai franchise, they concluded that calling them ‘Kings’ would be insufficient, so they went ahead and called them ‘Super Kings’ instead.

Complaining that Indian entertainment is over the top, gaudy and ostentatious is like complaining about India’s geographic location on this planet. What do you honestly expect anyone to do about it?

If you have a problem with the over the top, gaudy and ostentatious nature of Indian entertainment, here are your options:

  1. Deal with it
  2. Fail to deal with it

Technically, you could also ignore it, but we’re writing this from the perspective that you’re in some way interested in the IPL and are doing your best to enjoy or endure it. As such, those are your two options.

(2) The IPL is a slogfest

This is a bit of a ‘yes and no’ which we are aware is not an especially satisfying way to deal with such a thing.

Yes, the IPL is kind of a slogfest, because it is a Twenty20 cricket competition and Twenty20 cricket is kind of a slogfest.

No, because when you say ‘slogfest’ there are connotations to your use of that word. It is very rare for someone to speak in complimentary terms about something they are labelling a slogfest.

The original pejorative description of Twenty20 cricket was ‘hit and giggle’. This has fallen out of use a bit because it makes the format sounds like a fun, knockabout, amateur sort of thing.

This is in no way appropriate any more because people are pumping millions of moneys into these franchises. We’ll tell you what people pumping millions of moneys into something don’t at all enjoy: giggling from the people paid to produce results. Giggling implies that you’re not taking things at all seriously and if someone’s invested millions of moneys, that isn’t going to go down well.

So the slogging. The crux of this issue is this: in cricket, runs and wickets do not have set values. The value of each fluctuates from game to game, and, in a more general way, from format to format.

In the shortest format, wickets don’t really have much value at all until the point you lose your tenth wicket and aren’t allowed to continue scoring runs. Runs are the meaningful unit of currency and with reduced likelihood of being bowled out due to the constricted nature of the game, there is greater incentive to try and hit fours and sixes. That is how the game is built.

To explain why it’s not just slogging, let’s think of a ‘slog’ as being a wild hack where there’s just as much chance of being dismissed as hitting a six.

(1) If all 11 batsmen hit exactly one six and play no other scoring shots before getting out, the team will make 66, which is pretty much guaranteed to be a losing total.

(2) If all 11 batsmen hit exactly two sixes and play no other scoring shots before getting out, the team will make 132, which is okay in some circumstances, but probably also a losing total.

(3) If all 11 batsmen hit exactly three sixes and play no other scoring shots before getting out, the team will make 198, which is good enough to win most matches.

Our point is that a batsman can’t mindlessly swing at everything. If his decisions are inevitably weighted towards runs and away from preservation of his wicket, then there is still a decision to be made every ball. It is not just a slogfest.

Additionally, bowlers and fielders also play cricket.

(3) The IPL has incredibly passionate fans

Okay, we’re going to address this one by telling you two stories from when we went to watch Bangalore Royal Challengers v Deccan Chargers in 2010 (a colourful time during which we wrote this). The first story is from when we were at the match. The second story is from when we were at a hotel.

Story One. Here is a not-very-good photo from when were at the match. Sorry about the quality. We seem to remember that cameras were banned and mobile phone technology was not-so-good back then.

We just wanted to give you a small flavour of what the crowd was like. You will notice that a lot of people are waving flags and at least one person is wearing a crown.

You also cannot hear the crowd. We’d gone there with our friend Tronco and when the RCB batsmen first walked out, it was loud enough that we could scream “this is loud” directly into his ear and he still couldn’t hear us. Whenever anything happened from then on, it got louder.

The boy who was sitting next to us was certainly passionate. He told us he was supporting both RCB and DC, but in reality he was supporting sixes. He didn’t even clap for most fours, but when there was a six, he was out of his seat, eyes bulging, nearly falling over. It was very weird. He wasn’t bothered about wickets either and it was hard not to conclude that his love for the DLF Maximum was entirely detached from its significance in the match.

There was also a middle-aged guy a few rows in front who was very definitely passionate. It was much less clear whether he was following the match too closely. He was mostly just into dancing.

He was dancing to everything. At the time, this seemed very strange to us because we grew up in a world where even sitting down on a chair in the pub is considered effeminate. In the world of our early adulthood, pubs were for standing in and nowhere in the world was for middle-aged men to dance. (Look, we’re not saying we agree with this view or that most of the people who populated this world weren’t dicks, but this was the environment and we have inevitably internalised many of the values whether we like it or not.)

After a while, we started to notice that Dancing Man was representative of a certain proportion of the crowd. Everyone was having a very, very good time, but the noise was constant in a way that wasn’t necessarily all that related to what was happening on the field of play.

We can’t say what the actual split was between people who were dead into the game and people who were just dead into the experience. Personally, we remember and cherish the experience and honestly don’t know who won the game. It’s worth mentioning that it was a very good-natured crowd too. We can’t imagine any of the players were getting abuse.

Story Two. A little while later, we had to spend ten extra days in the hotel because we couldn’t get home because of the ash cloud. We were on our own by this point and so took to chatting about the IPL with the staff. There was one guy who was very definite that he was not a cricket fan and not an IPL fan either.

Almost immediately after saying this, he dissected Harmeet Singh’s technique when bowling his leg-break slower ball and followed that up with a dissection of the same bowler’s technique when bowling his flipper slower ball. We are an actual professional cricket writer and we’re still not fully sure who Harmeet Singh is.

It seems that in India, the average person is far more likely to know their cricket shit.

This is hardly surprising because during the IPL, cricket can be hard to avoid. We picked up a copy of the Deccan Chronicle one morning during our stay. Six and a half of the 16 pages were devoted to IPL news of some form. There had been bombs at Chinnaswamy Stadium, but that only warranted a page and a half – the rest was all Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor, match reports and opinion.

The ash cloud got 150 words. Mark Ramprakash’s divorce got 100.

(4) The IPL has too much advertising

There are few parts of the IPL that haven’t been sponsored. Grounds are sponsored, shirts are sponsored, highlights reels are sponsored. They’ve even found advertisers for moments, like for a six or for a ‘perfect catch’. This means that corporate names can also lodge themselves within the match commentary.

After the match, there are awards – all of which are sponsored and many of which are flimsy and very obviously made-up purely to secure yet another sponsor. Man of the match is fairly conventional, but to this we can add ‘stylish player of the match’, ‘super striker of the match’ and doubtless a few others that we haven’t the will to find out about right now.

There’s an official strategic time-out partner. There are co-presenting sponsors. There are any number of ill-defined associate sponsors.

They’ve even named an ‘umpire partner’ – something which might come as very shocking news to some of the umpires’ actual partners.

Umpire’s wife: “Are you having a parallel relationship with Paytm?”

Umpire: “I, um… what?”

But it’s only on the TV coverage where you get the full IPL effect. Ad breaks are punishingly frequent and last time we watched it, they were doing a thing where they occasionally shrunk the live action picture so as to display banner ads at the bottom and down the side.

The ad break ads (it says a lot that we needed to invent that term) were mostly for aspirational stuff. Phones, LCD TVs, Mont Blanc pens and plush furniture featured heavily.

Let’s quickly do some TV advert awards.

Our all-time favourite Indian TV ad. It was from 2003 or whenever the hell it was we first went over there. It was for Rupa Jon pants and featured a man in white Y-fronts who advertised his sole garment by saying: “You’re number one!” He accompanied that statement with a bold, joyful finger point to emphasise his message. It really was very entertaining. We can’t emphasise that enough.

The most jaw-droppingly perplexing ad that we saw while watching IPL matches on TV in 2010. As we remember it, the guy was a hangman and he’d had a bad day hanging people (a successful day really in terms of doing his job, but in a more meaningful sense a bad day because his job was to hang people). He walked home feeling all bad and then when he got home he switched a solitary lightbulb on and felt slightly better because of the fact that he had either (a) a lightbulb or (b) power for the lightbulb. (We’re honestly not sure how much of this is accurate due to it being a long time ago and because the final slogan was in a type of writing that we cannot read.)

The ad that best sums up an entire country that isn’t India. In Canada we once saw a prime time TV ad which suggested that the viewer might want to “impress all of your friends with a giant rig” – that’s ‘rig’ as in ‘truck’. Oh Canada.

Anyway. Yes, clearly the IPL has too much advertising. We could probably have done this one a bit quicker.

(5) The IPL is overrated and overhyped

This is to some degree connected to (1) and (4).

Of course it is overhyped because that is how the IPL presents everything. It would be very odd indeed if the one solitary thing it didn’t oversell was itself.

Of course it isn’t going to be shy about taking opportunities to talk itself up. It would be very odd indeed if, in amongst advertising 10 million other things, it neglected to advertise itself.

The IPL thinks that it’s the best and has always thought that it’s the best. There are two aspects to this that warrant our attention.

Firstly, the IPL is, and pretty much always has been, the best T20 competition. It is the best-funded and therefore the best-staffed, both in terms of players but also in terms of people trying to work out smart ways of winning cricket matches. So yes, the IPL is within its rights to think it’s the best.

What’s changed is how people regard T20 competitions. Initially, ‘best T20 competition’ was a bit like saying ‘best-looking deep sea fish’ because it was a label that didn’t really have any value in broader terms.

Now, thanks to all the great players and thinkers who have been involved for a decade, ‘best T20 competition’ pretty much means ‘most sophisticated and forward-thinking cricket competition’.

However much or however little you value that, T20 competitions are unarguably far more important to the game than they once were and the IPL is the most significant among them.

(6) The IPL is too powerful

The idea here is that the IPL is a talent sucker; that other parts of the sport are losing players and becoming devalued as a consequence.

You could argue that the arrival of the IPL represented a very obvious tipping point for a sport that had already spread itself too thinly and was asking too much of its players. Cricket’s foremost domestic league lasts seven weeks. That is not, by the standards of most sports, unreasonable. The problem, really, is what was already happening.

International cricket long ago lost sight of the idea that it is supposed to be about big occasions where the best players play the best players and everyone is at their best.

County cricket has also been affected, but it only expanded deeper into April in the first place to allow even more international cricket to take place.

The IPL could see the end of the philosophy of ‘more of everything’ in cricket and that isn’t such a bad thing.

(7) Most people outside India are at best apathetic about the IPL

A common refrain from outside India is that they don’t care about the IPL and can’t even find a way to care about the IPL. This is not the same as no-one caring about the IPL because it is quite obvious that in India very many people care about the IPL. (This division of caring makes total and perfect sense because it is, after all, the Indian Premier League.)

The fact that people are even discussing this is a measure of the league’s significance. No-one in England is following the Ranji Trophy too closely. No-one’s following the Logan Cup or the Lankan Premier League. Foreign leagues are foreign. The fact that in its 11th season the IPL is suffering unflattering comparisons with the NFL in the US or the English Premier League is really kind of an achievement.

So, in relative terms, people outside India actually care very much about the IPL because they mention it and sometimes think about it a little.

So, with all of that in mind, does the IPL deserve its reputation?

Having weighed up the facts and pondered the detail, we would have to go with ‘sort of’.


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41 Appeals

  1. Re. 1, I’m trying to ignore it. I really am. But it’s absorbing players from cricket I actually enjoy (with no obvious sign that there’s going to be less cricket as a result ten years on, in fact there’s going to be another T20 competition in the English ‘summer’ instead), and appearing on the sites I attend because I’m interested on other cricket. Such as Cricinfo and… er, this one.

    There are in fact only two options.

  2. Well done, you must have tired fingers.

    I agree with most of that. About the only bit I disagree with is your argument as to why it isn’t a slogfest. All those things you said about all eleven batsmen only actually apply at most to the last six. For the first five, T20 is a pure slogfest. So in fact, the first few batsmen can pretty much mindlessly swing at everything.

    That they don’t is not because they are being circumspect, it’s because they aren’t stupid. They know that they can’t mindlessly swing at a fast in-swinging yorker, so they don’t. But they do mindlessly swing at every ball that is even vaguely there to be swung at, mindlessly or otherwise. Their success or failure at this in the first six overs largely defines the match. Shikhar Dhawan was dropped on nought the other day, slashing a wide delivery to point. His subsequent 78 runs from 57 balls earned him the man-of-the-match award. Maybe he judged that first slog to perfection, but it looked a lot like mindless swinging to me.

  3. In answer to your question: Does the IPL deserve its reputation?

    …having read your piece carefully…

    I would say, “more or less”. I cannot agree fully with your “sort of” conclusion.

    Go Chennai Super Kings, go!

  4. To provide evidence that it’s not all bad, I present commentary from today’s match:

    ‘Shoes are being flung at the edge of the boundary.’

    Excellent stuff. Or, perhaps, utter cobblers.

  5. OK article, could have done with some more exploding tigers.

  6. I used to watch it when it was on ITV4.

    I have nothing else to add.

    • Same here. No Sky or BT Sport (whoever now airs it having shelled out silly money in a bidding war ITV wisely walked away from) so I haven’t watched it since it vanished behind a paywall.

      As for the Chennai Super Kings, I always thought they sounded like a way around having no tobacco advertising.

  7. I’ve watched a few matches but always found it hard to root for a franchise team so had little interest in the actual result. When there was a champions league t20 a few years back there were several players who qualified for more than one team which again subtracted from the authenticity of the setup. I’m sure the issue has been discussed on these hallowed pages before of how this will affect the (city?) based franchises of the English T20 comp in a year or two. Where will they be based? What will they be called? Who will care?

    Having said that the BCCI certainly know how to put on a good spectacle although even they have pulled up short of having a team called the Chennai Lord Megachiefs of Gold. Or should that be Lords Megachief?

  8. Laughed out loud at the tigers. A lol if you will.

    I’m interested when players I like are playing. And English players particularly. Have just watched young Curran give Watson a send off which was excellent.

    • King Cricket

      April 10, 2018 at 6:21 pm

      Very happy to have elicited a lol.

      Please feel free to share the article with other people, saying “you only have to read section one” or something to that effect.

      • As an addendum I have now decided being from Kent that I am a super Kings fan with Billings playing and also Bravo being a favorite of mine. Now I have a team I think I will be more involved.

      • Billings seems to be the real deal

  9. I would just like to be able to filter all IPL stories out of Cricinfo so I can find County Championship ones. I don’t have any strong opinions about the IPL except that I’d like it to be not everywhere. Why does the UK Edition still headline IPL stuff? Stick it in a sidebar somewhere.

    I’m far more interested in seeing Ichiro playing for the Mariners again this season, because I’m heartily in favour of people older than me still playing professional sports. But it’s too cold right now, so I’m waiting until later in the season to go to a game. Baseball in April makes no more sense than cricket. Games are getting snowed off!

    Plus, I don’t really care about the local team (franchise sports = le yawn), or their divisional rivals, so I’m waiting until some more storied teams visit. That’s probably not fair on the Astros, since they’re the best team in the sport right now, but whatever.

    • If you attend one of the games against the Dodgers in August we could have a king cricket meetup.

      I’ve yet to watch an IPL match. It probably has more to do with the time differential than purism, although all the talk on cricinfo at the outset of the league’s “american” take on the game, its presentation, and promotion turned me off from the beginning. My appreciation for cricket is partly escapist.

    • The first paragraph is very much aligned with my views. The County championship starts in two days and I didn’t realise, whereas the Ipple has been building up for what feels like weeks.

    • Daneel, you might also want to start supporting Yokohama FC in the second tier of Japanese football. One of their players, Kazuyoshi Miura, is 51.

  10. 3,000 words of slow-burning tension that eventually culminate in a climactic ‘sort of’.

    Is this in fact an elaborate defence of the five-match Test series?

  11. It took me a really long time to figure out how to react to the IPL. Here are my conclusions:

    1. Struggling to be emotionally invested in a franchise is not exclusive to Non-Indians. I am from Delhi, so I started off supporting Delhi, but pretty soon all the actual Delhi players (Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli etc) went off to other franchises. The IPL has very little to do with the actual cities – Dhoni is not from Chennai, Kohli is not from Bangalore, Shahrukh Khan is not from Kolkata etc etc

    2. The IPL-being-everywhere-and taking- over-everything and the over the top marketing is REALLY annoying if you actually live in India (Incidentally the two tigers thing is part of this years slogan of “best vs best”, which is the rough, watered-down English version of the Hindi ad “who wins if two tigers fight each other?”. Link with english subtitles here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbFIpiw3K5g )

    3. Hitting cleanly is not the same thing as swinging wildly. There’s skill involved.

    4. Bowlers who can dry up the runs (wickets are irrelevant) make for compelling viewing, because they typically achieve this with a high degree of skill. Its mostly fast yorkers, fast bouncers, extremely deceptive slower balls, and good wrist spin which succeeds.

    6. The IPL is the closest thing cricket has to a transfer market and a chance to see players from different nationalities team up in different combinations. Its kind of interesting.

    7. Watching an IPL game in a stadium is great fun. I once saw Gilchrist hit five sixes in the space of 10 or so balls, one of which put a big dent in the electronic scoreboard. It can be visceral, thrilling stuff.

    8. A lot of games are scratchy, one sided affairs. But there are some games, and phases within games, which are genuinely exciting. As with all cricket, its about knowing when to watch and who to watch.

    • Well spake, Uday.

      I have to admit that, this evening, I watched the last 15 overs of the CSK innings and it was a genuinely exciting watch.

      Strange coincidence that my one evening in this week happened to enable me to see the end of that CSK match, but life sometimes sends us good curve balls instead of bad ones.

      The green low viz jackets for the CSK support team are a joke, btw – the green almost matching the heavily watered grass of the Chennai pitch sufficiently to render the garment inverse hi-viz – i.e. camouflage.

      That boy Billings can bat.

    • Kevon Cooper (who played for RR) had an interesting technique to get a dot ball.
      He mixed his pace along with length to disorient bastmen.
      For example if the yorker was slow, then the length ball would be fast and vice versa.

      Unfortunately he’s been called for chucking & doubts over his bowling action continued to dog him – he was served warnings for a suspect action during his stints with Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2014 and Lahore Qalandars in PSL 2016.

  12. Here’s another Indian viewpoint –

    1. The reason why IPL is gaudy and over the top is cause and effect of having attracted the broadest audience of any entertainment in India during this period – girls, housewives, middle-aged professionals and traders, college goers, retired couples, North & South, urban and rural – all tune in at 8pm everyday. The movie and tv industries have stopped releasing any films or new shows in these 7 weeks. IPL is trying to cater to this huge audience and to keep them away from traditional forms of entertainment. That is also why advertising during the IPL is broad, direct and often silly, and why crowds in the stadiums are dancing and shouting their heads off. Mass entertainment on the scale of India.
    2. To a cricket fan, IPL as you put it rightly has the cream of world cricket playing it. This can genuinely make for compelling viewing over an average Big Bash, CPL or any other domestic T20 league game. Nowhere else are ABD and Kohli putting say Starc to the sword.
    3. The reason why there’s so much advertising is because the broadcaster has paid billions, perhaps unwisely, that pays for this assembly of top talent every year. I watch most of the games with the TV on mute.
    4. What the IPL has also done consistently is to provide a huge platform for emerging players. It resurrected Watson’s career in 08-09, first showed that Steve Smith can bat and has heart in 11-12, perhaps even set West Indies on their path to T20 success, never mind creating a factory of ready talent for India in addition to enabling long term investments to the game in India and ensuring that ex-cricketers are paid a substantial pension. The impact it has had on changing the game, in introducing new exciting players, and ensuring people are paid handsomely for their talents for over a decade cannot be understated.
    5. I don’t think the IPL is losing any sleep over how it’s perceived outside India.
    6. In summary, I don’t know if something like the IPL can have a specific reputation, but I do know it’s important – to Indians, to players worldwide and to the game.

    • King Cricket

      April 11, 2018 at 7:10 am

      We felt point six particularly acutely somewhere around 100 words into this 3,000 word article when the scope of it started to reveal itself.

  13. just reminds me of the simpsons bit with the evil knievel type guy jumping over the tank full of sharks and crocodiles and a TIGER! but it turns out it was a lion. oh well
    https://youtu.be/iE7zBMjubqw

  14. Off subject, I got talking to a bloke in the pub last night. He told me about when cricket was first introduced to Tonga. After the International Dateline was set up he said, that as far as score books in the UK were written up, it was possible for a batsman to arrive at the crease on a Tuesday and be bowled out the day before, giving rise to two extra columns in Wisden to allow for the anomaly. I suppose I have to bear in mind that he was drinking Abbot Reserve at the time which has several rats in the barrel.

  15. Ritesh Banglani

    April 11, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    I took my 5-year old son to an IPL game a few weeks after he watched his first test match at the same ground. His reaction, about a half hour into the game, was succinct: “but daddy, when will the cricket start?”

  16. As an Indian I don’t watch it personally — it’s far too long. I’d have loved it a lot more if it lasted maybe 30 games or something.

    I think one of the best things it does is bring players from different countries together. Furthermore it also exposes young Indian players to top foreign talent. I imagine playing international cricket can be a bit of a silo-ed experience, but competitions like the IPL do help mitigate that problem.

    You could say the same about county cricket, but I feel like the powerful people in English cricket are becoming more insular when it comes to being open to current foreign players playing in it. Maybe I’m cherry-picking, but take the recent Bob Willis comments about Virat Kohli playing county cricket, for example. What he said sounded absolutely ridiculous given that overseas players have been playing county cricket for generations.

    • King Cricket

      April 12, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      Plenty of top overseas players play county cricket. The problem is that very few England players do – and there are far more England players than there used to be.

  17. Have watched a fair bit of cricket in India (England tests and IPL) and one of the things you notice is that many Indian fans support batsmen rather than teams. They also support batting generally.

    In Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy by Ed Hawkins (well worth reading) he notes that many Indian fans are just there for a night out and aren’t remotely bothered about whether the match is fixed.

    • Put like that, that explains a lot of the nauseating (to me) hero worship of Tendulkar and Kohli and the like quite succinctly. Also: why the Ipple is so successful, when I can’t find it in myself to care about any of the results.

      That said, is the same thing true when India plays another country? You hear stories of metaphorical explosions going off in Eden Gardens when a non-Indian’s dismissed, and utter silence when one of their own is. Surely that’s supporting the team.

    • King Cricket

      April 13, 2018 at 8:59 am

      Does he ask them or is that just a hypothesis?

      • Balladeer – spot on re Tendulkar. Saw the same phenomenon with Ganguly, Sehwag and various others. I was managing a project once and we had some software developers over from Bombay. They were obsessed with Sehwag, it was around when he was reeling off double and triple centuries all the time. They were only dimly aware who India were playing and certainly didn’t care about the result.

        KC – had a quick look but can’t find the section. Anyway you should read the whole thing. From memory it is a remark from an Indian fan he knows & she is claiming it is representative of many other fans, so not a personal hypothesis of the author as such. But anecdotal of course.

        Marks out of XI by Vic Marks (account of the 1983-4 England tour to India) is very insightful on mentality of Indian crowds. I still take it down and read it occasionally as it is so beautifully written.

  18. What I got from this was firstly that Hansie Cronje would be a hit in Canada.

    Outside of that, teams are the basic units which win or lose cricket matches. The IPL has somewhat unstable teams which often have main players unrelated to their region. T20 cricket subjects batsmen to the demands of a steep scoring rate, which is less opportune for them to show off their individual response in a stable way. Bowlers often have longer spells and more development in one passage of a test match. So T20 leagues with more established longer-form teams could seem more interesting, although if I like the team I’d usually prefer them sticking around. Also local leagues, if they had a lower scoring rate and hence more variety. With a lower customary requirement, there’s more space for batsmen to express themselves in other ways. It might seem slightly paradoxical, however it could have more in common with the dynamics of other formats. Almost all sports reward good cheaters, this doesn’t always seem to make for a good game. Things like ‘hitting a ball this far automatically gives you 4 or 6 runs’ are slightly arbitrary, a popular variant in less formal play is that you get out. It’s not something that should be a focus and centrepoint, honestly. Cricket has too many diverse elements to just lump them together and rush them, then expect much other than cricket-themed melodrama.

    A lot of IPL criticism relates to the perception that it influences or displaces test cricket, from the early controversy around it. That’s not always accurate. Of course, test cricket does develop the many facets of cricket so that you can get invested in them first, so some people didn’t even find T20 more exciting (well, it’s a different kind of excitement, for one thing.) The IPL does seem like a self-contained T20 microcosm with its own teams, etc., so there is some truth to the criticisms. If you only care about T20 slightly compared to longer matches of the game, then the dedicated T20 area might suit you less than other T20 associated with longer-format leagues.

    Looking at the ‘Mumbai’ team, perhaps ‘Indian’ means something different in the IPL.

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