Despite the sunshine pouring in through the window, I am sat down in front of the telly, glued to my television, intently watching the second game of the day from the Pepsi IPL. What is it about this tournament that makes it just so watchable?
Now, of course, some of you may be reading this and thinking; ‘but it’s cricket, cricket’s boring’, or, ‘it takes too long’, or, as I have heard a few times; ‘but cricket’s an old man’s game’ – and to those people I would say, you haven’t watched the IPL.
For the uninitiated, the IPL is an annual T20 tournament. Each team gets 20 overs to score as many runs as they can, and the other team then gets 20 overs to try and beat that score. That’s putting in the simplest terms – a game of cricket, but finished in about 3 hours. Now, you might be thinking that that’s still quite a long time for a match to last, after all, it is more than double the length of your standard football match, so with that in mind, what is the appeal?
The IPL is to cricket what the Champions League is to football. It brings together some of the best players on the planet, and gives them the chance to exhibit their skills on a huge stage, which I think we can all agree, whichever sport you’re into, is a great thing to behold.
I mentioned before as well that your average IPL match lasts for about three hours – a long time you may think – but, when you sit down and watch it – or in my case right now, writing this article with the game on in the background – those 3 hours go very quickly, and here are 3 reasons why:
There are many different players that you could highlight that provide almost endless entertainment, but for me, there can only be one guy: Chris Gayle. Gayle is box-office. Worth the entrance money alone. Whichever cliché you want to use, this is the guy you want to watch. Take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XK3rTZR_M0
N.B. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but there is just something inherently entertaining about watching a ball being smashed very hard, and more often than not in the IPL, a very long way.
Fielding: Or more specifically, catching. I have heard it a lot over the years: ‘batting is the only interesting thing, everyone else just stands around’. The IPL has brought the art of fielding on in leaps and bounds, and some of the stuff you see defy both belief, and gravity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXb-_fmwjN4
Danny Morrison: This is more of a personal preference. I will admit that Danny Morrison wasn’t a name I was familiar with before the IPL, but to say he is an enthusiastic and entertaining commentator would be an understatement. He is a constant stream of awesome one liners: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5Nv0Fed7kg
Now for a little bit of honesty on my part. I will admit that when the IPL started in 2008, I felt the whole thing was a little bit ridiculous and unnecessary. I loved T20 when it was introduced in England in 2003, but I felt that the IPL was taking it too far. I just couldn’t watch something without feeling stupid when a batsman hadn’t hit a 6, instead they had hit a DLF Maximum. They had managed to find sponsors for everything you could think of. Good catches were now no longer called ‘good catches’, now it was a Karbon Kamaal catch. A good piece of fielding was now ‘a Citibank Moment of Success’. But, over time, and despite the changes in sponsors, I have got over this and have been able to blank this kind of thing out, thankfully.
I guess what I am trying to say is: give it a go. Give the IPL and cricket as a whole, a chance. It is on ITV4 pretty much every day from now until the 26th May – 2 games a day. Give it a go. Pick yourself a team and just get into it. I myself went for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. You never know, you might surprise yourself, hell, you might even enjoy it. GO Aaaar Ceeee Beeee!