14. May 2010 01:51
OK. It's time to get real. The cricket world has been in conniptions over the IPL. The best players in the world (Pollard? Gilchrist? Hayden?) coalescing around artificial team entities (franchises?) . Where is the future for cricket as we know it? And straight ways comes along a true accumulation of the world's finest talent and blows this nonsecial folderol out of the water.
India may complain about scheduling so close to the IPL but the truth is that confonted by proper international class bowling their collage of T20 specialists are a joke. Sri Lanka have some marquee players but a lot of inexperienced fillers, the Windies have been made over confident by IPL salaries but no international pedigree (Roach, Pollard even Bravo), and the Saffers, whilst on test match paper are strong, are always slow to adapt.
The likely final will feature England who can sport only KP and at a pinch Morgan as IPL success stories, and Australia, who have bizarrely left out the most effective bowler in the IPL, Doug Bollinger. Yet both sides circket has been beguiling, destructive and unsurpassably compelling.
It's really just Packer all over again. Cricket should make more money than it does and Lalit Modi's IPL has screamed loud and long. But ultimately the best games are played between the best players and they are currently owned by national boards.
England v.Australia or Chennai Super Kings v. Mumbai Indians? I wonder.
29. April 2010 20:08
Ah the humanity! Cricket is in crisis. The IPL wasn't, after all, the benevolent brainchild of a one off philanthropic Colossus. Lalit Modi wasn't Attlee designing the welfare state but rather David Cameron scheming to give the top 1.2% of the population some extra money through inheritance tax exemption (I'm sorry, I'll stop this in a week). The Mr. F blimp wasn't a kindly donation by Hindu businessman to give us a better view. The Max Headroom strategic time out wasn't a kindly gesture designed to save the aching limbs of our exploited and exhausted gladiator heroes. The Shitty Moment of Success wasn't a subliminal message to the kids to get off the streets, hand over their knives (they've all got them), stop chewing crack and start helping elderly WW2 veterans get to their naval reunions on time.
But out of despair rises hope in the shape of the upcoming T20 World Cup in the Caribbean. And there is much to relish. I can't wait to see Afghanistan at a senior tournament for the first time. They're good. Better than Ireland and Holland. And if the Indians underestimate them, as they are wont to do (see the first four days of the test series against Bangladesh this year), there could be a delicious shock.
Watching South Africa grumble and crumble under the weight of bizarre expectation is always a pleasure. And this could be Murali's last hurrah on the world stage. The Windies have a real chance to make a splash on their own grounds with match winners like Gayle, Pollard, Bravo and Roach in their line up, not to mention the much underrated Mr. Benn. Can Pakistan hope to prosper without their senior players or will they lose the title of World Champions in less than a year? And of course England's inevitable loss to the Irish will please many.
However, my pick for the final is Australia v New Zealand. A chance for this most parochial of rivalries to provide redemption for the shotest form of the game. The Kiwis meander round world cricket with the appearance of emotionally troubled academics spending their spare time in botanical gradens taking Latin notes and writing them up in candlelight beneath cream tarpaulins. This Australian team on the other hand are possibly the most proletarian side in world sport. Wearing toothless 14th century grins and seemingly covered by axe wound scars, they communicate in either grunts, excessively hearty laughter or with a jovial back slap that could dislodge a kidney stone and all that notwithstanding the extraordinary omission of Doug Bollinger who spends his off season getting pin money as a grotesquely ugly extra in the latest Terry Gilliam medieval epic.
Alan Turing v. Roberto Duran, therefore, is my prediction. And if you disagree (or even if you don't) go to www.sportguru.co.uk/t20 enter the pool code "wormchew" and test your Nostradamian skills against me.
What do you mean hypocrite? Now the IPL has been so terribly discredited it behoves the ethical institition that is the Sofa to pick up the baton of product placement.