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Why the IPL can’t…

May 8, 2009

When the second season of the IPL started, I’d resolved to evaluate the cricket instead of just dismissing it as a bunch of commercials interspersed with pretend-cricket. I reasoned, with reservations, there’d be innovative tactics, batting improvisations, superlative fielding that would evolve from the format. I’ve failed. 30-odd games down in the tournament and the idea that its only half-way done is excruciating. The only time I got excited was what prompted my last post, the 32 year old Australian skier who will play for the Netherlands in the cricket T20 worldcup and currently is a Delhi Daredevil – Dirk Nannes. After the opening weekend, my viewership of the IPL has averaged roughly 10% of playing time, which is about 90% less than it was for India’s test series in New Zealand.

So, what stymied my efforts to immerse myself in the biggest marketing event related to cricket?

Inglorious Certainties

Depending on the teams involved, any game falls into one of three categories

1. Runfests: Originally intended as the de facto type of game for this format, turns out only a few teams have the ammo to blaze away through the twenty overs. Bowlers and fielders are anonymous support acts. Like watching the last round of the bout of any movie in the Rocky series, except here the deciding over usually involves a few low blows (read lucky edges)

  • Teams most likely to make merry: Delhi, Chennai, Punjab

2. Staring contests: Appear as the most balanced contests but in reality, meander along, with neither side completely dominant till the 2nd half of the run chase when either a silly swipe or a bad over tilt the scales. Brilliance does not decide the winner, number of brain-fades does.

  • Teams most likely to blink: Rajasthan, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore

3. Massacres: Usually happen when one of the teams from category #1 feasts on one from the latter category. Also possible in games played amongst the latter category, when one team loses the plot by over 5 of the first innings, either batting or bowling.

  • Teams most likely to be routed: Kolkata (duh!), Bangalore, Mumbai

Pick a game, and based on the teams involved, you can make a reasonably accurate guess about the course of the match. So much for glorious uncertainties.

Exaggerated hyperbole

This goes beyond the number of times the commentators use words like “fantastic”, “unbelievable”, “brilliant” or Ravi Shastri’s “boxing ring announcer” impersonation before the toss. It’s the use of superlatives to describe decidedly mediocre passages of play that is grating. ODI cricket having been around for several decades, we know that a batsman, when unsure about the offerings of a slow bowler, tends to get down and swing, hitting the ball in the general direction of midwicket. And yet, everytime batsmen do that in the IPL, Messrs Jeremy Cooney, Robin Jackman et al seem to climax with disturbingly high-pitched exclamations. You can almost imagine the commentators practicing their version of histrionics in their hotel rooms, with post-its to remind them to mention the almighty sponsors. Thank god for mute buttons.

Hard-sell

Seems like printing and laminating the obvious but is it really necessary for the commentators to be thanking the sponsors as profusely as they do? It’s one thing to cash in on the line of advertisers by attaching their names to flashing fours, sixes and wickets packages. Not long before we have the “Polka Dot-ball super package” and the “Acme Divorce Lawyer Sizzling Singles package”. But, making a ceremony out of handing over an oversized check to school principals while the students scream in the background seems a tad overdone.

And then this sequence…Camera pans…zooms to a gentleman in the crowd. He’s curiously calm as those around him erupt with glee. They have been given the opportunity to be broadcast live as they exhibit their prolific abilities to make contorted faces and loud whooping sounds. Oblivious to the people jostling him, he turns the pages. Camera zooms to show the object of his interest, a magazine. He leafs through, enraptured by the content on the shiny pages. Fortunately for the viewers, he’s holding it so the cover is prominent, a magazine on cricket made obvious by the smiling Dhoni on the cover. The cameraman stays with him for the duration of the 30 odd seconds it takes him to leaf through the magazine. The first edition of the sports magazine…property of the IPL.

I rest my case.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2009 10:28 am

    Hahaha, that magazine is hilarious. Good stuff.

  2. May 9, 2009 4:47 pm

    Donthaveaclue,

    that is quite a lot against IPL, and frankly, I don’t see a reason to disagree with you! and the classification of matches, into 3 categories was simply brilliant!

    I want to add one though

    4. Matches with stupid selections

    Teams: Mumbai Indians!

    • May 9, 2009 7:28 pm

      thanks ankit. i think the format has promise but not in the way it is being conducted with too much focus on the glitz but not so much on the substance.

      as for mumbai, well, they will soon be competing with kolkata i think 🙂

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