It’s not cricket

I’m writing this in the innings break of the first IPL game between bangalore and calcutta. I’ve just witnessed what might have been one of the finest innings in limited overs cricket. Absolutely mindblowing stuff from McCullum. Yet, if at all I’m feeling something, it’s irritation. Despite having watched such good cricket from this man, I feel quite incomplete. There’s something definitely missing.

The problem is that there has been absolutely no contest. Apart from Praveen Kumar’s first over, and Zaheer’s over where he got Dada, there has been nothing in this for the bowlers. They have come, bowled, and got whacked. The ground seems to have shrunk. The outfield has never been quicker. Miscued flicks are going over third man for six.

And then there is the telecast by SET Max. They seem to have lived up to the high standards they set for themselves during the previous World Cup. Not content with showing almost five-ball overs, they have decided there is too much time between balls also. The screen gets smaller and a loud ad gets played. Yes, I know that they have paid too much for their telecast rights and are trying to recover it, but they should also know that if they end up irritating the viewers like this, TRPs are going to dip. And then, in the pre-match show, where you would’ve expected some kind of half-intellectual discussion about teams and strategies and stuff, you had Ajay Jadeja and Rameez Raja blabbering about stuff they knew little about. It was good that they decided to interview Dr. Mallya and didn’t subject us to more of their idiocy.

Before the tournament started, I had decided to support my home team the Bangalore Royal Challengers. I still do. However, there’s no sense of loyalty. Maybe it’ll take time to get used to it, but apart from the city they supposedly represent I don’t see anything that might want me to support them. And no, I don’t think it has to do with the mauling they’ve suffered at McCullum’s hands. I would’ve felt the same even if they had knocked out calcutta for 40 all out. At this point of time, I can confidently say that I feel more loyalty for the Karnataka Ranji team; for Liverpool FC; for Aston Villa; and heck, even for Villareal. I feel more loyal to all the above mentioned teams than I do for the Royal Challengers.

However, all is not lost. If you remember, the ICC World T20 had started off as a similar slogfest. Gayle’s century had taken the West Indies to 212 which was chased down by South Africa to plenty to spare. And then the next day, things started happening. Things started happening when Zimabwe restricted Australia to 140. They started happening when India managed to tie the game with Pakistan (bowl out doesn’t count) defending just 141. Things happened when some things went the bowlers’ way. When there was an even contest between bat and ball.

Hopefully this match is an anomaly. Hopefully we will get better pitches for the rest of the games. Where there would be an even contest between bat and ball. However, god forbid, if the intention is to draw in the non-cricketing crowds by producing slogfests, then I’ll be back watching when India tours Bangladesh for an ODI triangular in June.

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