Damned if I know why, but I spent a large part of last night sitting up to read pretty much everything I could find that had been written apr's-IPL. The fruits of my 'researches':
In Independent Online, Stuart Hess echoes my grouse: While the South African president made a stump speech, Lalit Modi thanked everyone including the family pet, Katrina Kaif walked around on stage miming a dance and Akon pranced around miming songs and Eddie Grant looked bemused at Shiamak Davar cutting into his anthemic song, where the hell were the cricketers, whose moment it was to shine? And that was not the only thing wrong with the IPL, Hess says.
Also from the same website, an IPL dream team. Cricket Australia would wince; so would the BCCI when it reads the name of the lead spinner in the side.
Writing on the Holding Willey blog, Sreeram Ramachandran muses on a conundrum: the cricket's been better at IPL 2009 than in the inaugural edition [Peter Roebuck feels the same way too], he says, but the ratings have been consistently lower. Whyfor?
Damn the ratings ' the point is, the IPL came to South Africa at an instant's notice and managed consistently to put butts in the seats, points out Neil Manthrop: so what can Cricket South Africa learn? On another site out of South Africa, Arthur Turner suggests that an IPL segment annually in SA might not be a bad idea, as a means of building on the legacy of 2009. That said, Turner says there are some organizational tweaks the league could do to make the event even better.
After all these games, are we any closer to finding a winning formula? There is no single magic bullet, suggests Anil Kumble in his closing-out column, but there are several points that, when assiduously followed, can change a losing side into a winning one. And who would know that better than the man who was a member of the bottom-feeding Bangalore outfit last year, and until Kevin Pietersen left and he got the reins in his hands, must have anticipated an equally disastrous result in IPL-2?
So what then is the losing formula? We batted badly, bowled badly and fielded badly, suggests John Buchanan of the Kolkatta Knight Riders, using a lot more words though.
But the heck with the cricket: the IPL is about money, so who made the moolah this year? Everyone, says Prabhakar Sinha in the Times of India. And here's more on the theme, including a breakdown of income and expenses across the eight franchises.
Staying with teams for a moment longer, Harsha Bhogle rues the premature exit of last year's champions, and says the Rajasthan Royals, an oddball collection of talents led by an ageing but still magnificent general ' the romantics of the IPL ' deserve to have a movie made about them. [Hmm ' who? Karan Johar? The mind boggles. Oliver Stone? Stephen Spielberg? They don't know cricket. That guy, whatsisname, who made that portmanteau flick, romance for the first half and cricket for the latter part? Ugh! Suggestions, peoples?]
Back to the money — In the process of making potloads of the stuff, IPL has established itself in the span of two short years as India's first truly international sports brand, says Boria Majumdar. How in heck did that happen? Simple, says Siddhartha Mishra in the Indian Express: Modi and his merry men spent more money to publicize the two-month event than the ANC spent on its entire election campaign. All well and good, but it is still big fish, little pond: the IPL can never become a global super-brand, argues Neil Manthrop.
And if there's money to be made, why should players be exempt? Won't be long, warns Rob Steen, before cricketers realize it makes sense to tear up Test contracts and make the T20 their favored income-generating avenue. And the good bit is, it doesn't matter if you are an old cricketer or a young cricketer: all you need to be is a good cricketer. Related, Gideon Haigh on why the IPL could be a short-cut for the talented cricketer to pitchfork himself into national reckoning.
Elsewhere, a potential controversy brewing, with the ICC contradicting claims Lalit Modi made on the IPL website to the effect that the Champions Trophy, bloated by the addition of more teams, is an official part of the global Future Tours Program. Modi wants to shoehorn as many IPL-related offshoots as he can into the calendar to maximize revenues; the ICC as clearly wants to hold on to as much of its monopoly of world-level competitions as it can. Tangentially related, Aussie coach Tim Nielsen suggests that if the ICC seriously thinks T20 tournaments are the way of the future, the governing body needs to take steps to move it beyond its current status as a tamasha, and accord it seriousness and respectability.
With ref the World Cup kicking off next week, Sachin Tendulkar makes the obvious point that it's going to be a bowler-dominated event ' fair enough, it's being played in England and conditions should logically help the swing and seam bowlers. And while on bowlers, the BCCI still has no official word on the pace spearhead it appears to have mislaid: Zaheer Khan's participation, for all the BCCI's bluster, is still an unknown quantity.
Meanwhile, there’s a domestic T20 competition on in England just now that might be worth keeping an eye on as an early bellwether of what kind of batsmen are working, and how swing and seam bowlers are doing in comparison to the spinners. Of related interest: Stuart Law made a brisk 42 off 25 balls, but the report says only ten runs were made with the Mongoose, and it is short on details of when Law made the switch in bats. Did he start his innings with the Mongoose and then change? That might tell you the batsman wasn’t comfortable with it; or did he start with a regular bat, switch to the new one late in the innings, and if so how did that impact on his strike rate? Questions, questions, waiting for answers…
Update: Here are some answers — the Guardian’s Andy Bull has more dope on the Law innings. Law brought it out after scoring 32 of his 42 runs. It also touches on a point I was curious about: It’s all well to say longer handles and shorter blades allow batsmen to swing like they are on a golf course, but the two games work on different mechanics. How easy would it be to take strike with a drastically reduced blade? How do you play a lifting, seaming ball in the early part of a game? How do you cope with the fact that what per your muscle memory should be the middle of the bat is now the shoulder? Waiting for someone to talk to Law about all of this.
Off the ball: what does it tell you when a 14-year-old in Pretoria roots for Suresh Raina, and a hotel waiter in Durban goes into ecstasies over the inswinging yorkers of Lasith Malinga? Simple, says Atreyo Mukherjee: where in India we worship our stars, in countries like South Africa it is sport itself that they idolize.
And finally, remember the man with 99 Tests to his name? Kunal Pradhan catches up with him as he takes strike on a different pitch.
Postscriipt: More details on Law’s debut with the Mongoose:
Law began his innings with the long-bladed version of the bat; once he was settled at the crease and batting on 32, he called for the shorter-bladed Mongoose.
Once armed with the Mongoose, Law faced 6 further balls and scored 10 runs, including a towering six over mid-wicket before he was run out with one ball of the innings remaining.
Speaking after his innings Stuart Law enthused, “I obviously felt a bit of pressure going into the game that I wanted to give the Mongoose a good first outing. Fortunately, I was able to get well set and was seeing the ball well. With twelve balls left and looking to press on, it was Mongoose time.”