As the fifth season of the Indian Premier League nears the knockout stage, Andrew Bloxham finds himself becoming increasingly fond of the competition.
Until recently the Indian Premier League had been to me what protecting Gotham City has been to Batman for the past 73 years: fun on occasion, but swiftly becoming tedious and largely irrelevant.
Where the Dark Knight had to contend with new, increasingly cunning and malevolent super-villains shortly after deposing his previous arch-enemy, I’ve had to deal with the excessively excitable IPL commentary team. It’s debatable as to who has had the tougher assignment.
When the concept of the Indian Premier League was first announced it appeared, to this sceptical purist at least, little more than a glorified domestic Twenty20 tournament utilising the vast cricketing resources of the Indian sub-continent to create the greatest money-spinner the sport has ever witnessed. The pioneers behind the competition have certainly achieved that. I was wrong to underestimate its significance.
I remain very much a traditionalist when choosing cricket à la carte. Where Twenty20 provides a tasty starter to whet the appetite, Test cricket is the main course. One-day internationals are very much for dessert; a painful addition to the meal that you don’t really need when you’ve already reached saturation, but ultimately indulge regardless.
It is therefore no surprise that I have cared little for the incessant stream of cringe-worthy advertising emanating from India ahead of each and every IPL season. Yet, strangely, I might just have been won over. Perhaps those annoyingly histrionic adverts reminding me that the IPL is the 21st century’s very own Roman gladiatorial games are effective at gaining viewers as well as inducing involuntary vomit in one’s mouth, after all.
Like a vessel heeding the call of a particularly mischievous siren I’ve been lured in; whether in to rocky waters or new lands ripe for exploration only time will tell. Thus far, progress has been satisfyingly serene.
The turning point, it would seem, has been the rather agreeable sight of a selection of the world’s finest Test match performers wreaking havoc in the competition, proving that the cream does indeed always rise to the top. We have heard the term “Twenty20 specialist” bandied around aplenty, but the fifth edition of the IPL has witnessed these ‘mercenaries’, as I tend to call them, convincingly eclipsed.
It has been a joyous sight to watch cricketers of unsurpassed ability, Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn in particular, unfurl their full array of talents in an environment where innovation and daring is applauded rather than admonished.
Such is the awe in which I have observed their genius that I’ve even began to develop an immunity to those highly irritable phrases such as”and there’s another DLF maximum for Kevin Pietersen.” Despite putting up admirable resistance, I’ve finally succumbed to the IPL bug. What’s not to like about it?
Click here to read Cheetan Narula’s round-up of the lastest IPL matches