It has been announced that South Africa will be the host for the next round of Lalit Modi’s IPL, the second Twenty20 league to come out of India.
That’s right, the ICL came first. And no, I’m not going to let anyone who reads my writings about the IPL forget this fact.
England had been in the running to be the host of this round of Modi’s circus but the decision to award it to South Africa was influenced by the weather. Let’s face it, England’s summer can be a little short and unpredictable.
Having sold its television rights for an obscene sum of money, cancelling this round of Modi’s circus wasn’t an option. The IPL needs television revenue to work. Games cancelled due to weather (and let’s be honest, any team based in Manchester is always going to be battling the elements as well as the opposition) don’t help the “product” to live up to the image its creator and sponsors want.
“But Jamie,” I hear people asking “if an IPL team based itself somewhere close to you (and there is a gorgeous cricket ground relatively nearby in Canterbury) wouldn’t you be tempted to take your family to see them?”
No I wouldn’t. I deeply dislike Lalit Modi’s bullying approach to anyone or anything connected with the ICL and that principle is enough to ensure that I would stay away. We’re in a recession, so money is important. Where and with whom I spend it is as important as on what I spend it.
While caring for my grandmother last year I found that Setanta Sports was a freebie offer for a while on her subscription. I decided to have a look at the IPL. The television coverage and commentary was as poor as I’ve ever seen. Not even Tony Cozier could save the IPL’s coverage from being cliche ridden, error strewn and amateurish. And people who know about Coze will tell you he is a fount of knowledge and professionalism. That’s how bad it was. I’m not easily moved to expletives, especially when with relatives, but hearing Ramiz Raja’s commentary in particular drove me to a number of expletives, which my grandmother suitably chastised me for.
Then there were the almost contant advert breaks. What hasn’t been sold as part of this “product”? How long before “Coming into bat, sponsored by Citizen, Adidas, Burton menswear, Vodafone and Hugo Boss, Kevin Pietersen”. By that time he could have run into bat, been out first ball and be heading back to the dugout! Or how about stage names or nicknames and gimmicks?
Why not? Already WWE “wrestling” uses nicknames and gimmicks. Who would be the cricketing equivalent of “The Undertaker”, “Stone Cold”, “Brutus The Barber Beefcake”, “The Honky Tonk Man” and “Macho Man”?
Premier League Darts in the UK has started to go down this route. Back in the days when darts was shown on terrestrial television there was “The Crafty Cockney” Eric Bristow, “The Limestone Cowboy” Bob Anderson, “Dennis The Menace” Dennis Priestley and that was about it. Now 3 time World Champion John Part is nicknamed “Darth Maple” and walks onto the oche carrying a Darth Vader lightsabre! It can’t be long before “Hawaii 501” Wayne Mardle rides a water chute in a canoe onto the oche surrounded by hula girls…
I’m sure there are plenty of examples of IPL footage on YouTube. The only thing I enjoyed from the IPL was hearing that the Rajasthan Royals, coached and captained by Shane Warne, were the winners. Like him or loathe him, you can’t say that fat laddie hasn’t got that special something.
So to my South African readers and friends, if you do go to any IPL games, please blog your experiences fully and compare them to the World Twenty20 games you went to (if you went to any of them) or the Pro20 in terms of ticket, merchandising and refreshment prices and also on what you were and weren’t allowed to take into the game (food, drinks and cameras come to mind). I’m interested to see what experiences you have at the hands of Modi’s money making machine.
The last ICC World Twenty20 was quite a success, most of that down to the organisation of the event, led by Steve Elworthy. So good a job did he do that he’s been pinched to organise this year’s World Twenty20 in England
I wish South Africa a successful and trouble free IPL. And thank them for a thrilling set of test matches with Australia.