Saturday, April 26, 2008

Chaanta Laga

The “obnoxious weed” (courtesy Matthew Hayden) is at it again. A couple of weeks into the Indian Professional League, Harbhajan has usurped the most entertaining factor in the league: the cheerleaders. Somewhere down the line after the mind-numbing display of batting over the first two weeks, the matches are beginning to be regularly lop-sided. I get it though. IPL is not about the cricket. It’s about entertainment. It’s about Shah Rukh Khan jumping in the aisles and Preity Zinta rushing to the ground to give “her” team a good old hug for finally winning a match. It is about the razzmatazz and the ability to satisfy the short attention spans of the viewing public. The format of the game is biased towards the batsmen and it takes an extraordinary bowler by McGrath to dictate terms. We’ll get to that later. The debate on the merits of this form of the game can be endless. To get back to the top selling points of IPL, the cheerleaders were heralded as the great “innovation”. Vijay Mallya brought to India the pom-pom wielding Amazons from the Washington Redskins. Their presence was warranted so much that Dravid and co. were banned from the ground while they perfected their routines. They hogged the limelight, they hogged TV time by jumping to action anytime a four or a six or a wicket came about (and there were plenty of those to come by) and the hogged the radars of the moralists who are worried about the length of their skirts upsetting the rather delicate minds of the Indians who apparently can’t keep their eye on the ball.

They had the center stage, until Harbhajan arrived. He captained his side, the Mumbai Indians, to a third successive loss in the IPL. Perhaps his patience gave way. Perhaps the culprit, the man who can single handedly bring down India’s cricketing reputation down, Shantakumar Sreesanth, needled him a wee bit too much. But it happened nonetheless. Harbhajan’s hand rose above his head where you couldn’t fault him for not bending his elbow enough, and it came down with the grip of a doosra, one that an inexperienced Sreesanth couldn’t be faulted for not anticipating. It landed on Sreesanth’s face just in the right area sending his head into a spin that he couldn’t handle. On being thus dismissed, he let his disappointment known. Tears rolled down his face uncontrollably and the rest is televised history.

Perhaps Harbhajan took his loyalty to his team too seriously. Aren’t these players a bit like hired mercernaries? Would a Pollock really care Mumbai wins or Bangalore does? What’s his loyalty to the city? As per the franchise system he might get transferred somewhere else. These matches are a bit like matches I played in our building while growing up. Two strong players would be captains and the rest be picked turn by turn. Everyone just played to get their chance to do their bit with the bat and ball. Winning would be a bonus. No teams would be the same over two days and it really was entertainment. Perhaps this simplistic view of the IPL is necessary for me. Cricket after all is my passion and I’ll love IPL, even if I end up treating it with the partiality of a step-child. While IPL doesn’t give me the satisfaction of watching cricket, the least I can derive of it is the entertainment. For that, I need to thank Harbhajan and congratulate him for topping my charts. It’s a slap in the face of the all-domineering cheerleaders.

14 comments:

sd said...

I cannot bring myself to follow IPL. May be this is some sort of TRP increasing ploy?

I am waiting for the test series with srilanka.

frissko said...

I like the building cricket comparison. They should probably do it that way, Dhoni and Ganguly alternatively slapping the other's palm and picking out players, strogest to weakest till they have a team's fill, cheergirls dancing every time a player is picked. What fun it'll be :).

And for some reason i am more annoyed with Sreeshanth than with Bhajji.

Radha said...

I haven't watched IPL at all.
Didn't even know that the rules are any different from a regular ODI.

Parth said...

@SD: Interesting theory, though I doubt that would be the case. Its ridiculous how these two morons have actually given Aussie cricketers the higher moral ground now. They must be chuckling away to glory while we have Indians slapping Indians now!

@Frissko: I find both annoying really. I know this is the face of emerging India and all that but when did boorishness become acceptable?

@Radha: You are miles away from the cricketing world then. Perhaps in a few years time, there will be hardly any other forms of cricket left to reckon with at all.

Nocturne said...

uff. maha-entertaining post! bowler ka thappar bhi aisi commentary ke layak hota hai. :P

Ankit said...

its just sad, isn't it... how the priorities of the organizers and public have changed. how money has crept in so obscenely. how cricket has been reduced to a mere sideshow while SRK, PZ and AK do their bits for greedy publicity and Mallya sells the nuances and emotions of the game for Americanization. And how the field is festered with spineless creatures like Sreesanth and fools like HS.

As hard as I might try, I just cannot like it. In fact I hate it. Here is another good thing we have sacrificed for our greed.

Parth said...

@Nocturne: Thanks. In donon bowler ki har harkat commentary ke layak hai :-)

@Ankit: That's been my point all along but it seems like I am in a minority of sorts. Isn't it also weird that the Indian Professional League hardly has any Indian stars doing well? Most of the matches are won by Aussies and others

RTD2 said...

I wish I had Harbhajan's help to really slap some of the cheerleaders last week - I had the marvelous luck to go watch the Sunday match, front row seats and all, and the damned women came and started dancing right in front of me! I had to literally peer between their arms and legs to watch the match! And of course, all the men in the stands then crowded in between me and the fence to take pictures and generally ogle :( So much for my first IPL experience :(

Parth said...

@RTD2: Welcome back! Look on the bright side. There isn't much cricket in the IPL anyway (at least not the way I define it), so I guess you didn't miss much :-)

Pallavi said...

I liked the title of your post..:)..ekdum bollywood ishtyle

Parth said...

@Pallavi: Thanks :-)

mystic rose said...

I hate this whole own a team thing.
It spoils the whole mood and spirit of cricket.

whatever happened to the good old fashioned 'people jumping in the benches shouting bhalle bhalle' ?
That would have been cheerleading enough.

mystic rose said...

*more than, actually.

Parth said...

@Mystic Rose: *Sigh* The tournament is a success and ton of money has been made .. ergo... this is here to stay.