Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The IPL, T20, Sky, ECB, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all rant

So the Indian Premier League seems to be going through another crisis as the BCCI seeks to remove any trace of Lalit Modi's malign influence (at least, malign in the view of the BCCI). You know what? I don't care. I watched a few live IPL games last year and frankly I thought it was bollocks. You had all the nauseating "DLF maximums" and the "Citi moment of success", and you had the scantily clad women jumping up and down every time anything even remotely exciting happened to the accompaniment of loud, fast-paced music.

I'd say the same to them as I'd say to the dolly birds who turn up inexplicably on motor racing grids - "Move over love, you're in the way of what I came here to see". If I wanted loud music and half-naked women dancing around inanely, there are plenty of places where I could find that. Frankly, if the cricket doesn't excite you enough in itself, what the hell are you doing watching it in the first place? I remember going to Lord's to watch a Test Match against South Africa a few years ago and I didn't need any dancing girls - chatting with the 93-year-old MCC member next to me was quite enough to pass the time. Surely the secret to the attraction of watching cricket is that it's one of seemingly few sports these days that doesn't absolutely crave your attention the whole damn time.

And then we have the actual quality of the cricket, which as far as Twenty20 goes is pretty poor. Cricket should be an aesthetic game, played patiently with a fine balance between bowler and batsman. With any of the shorter versions though, all balance and aesthetic is entirely defenestrated by the massive rush to accumulate a shitload of runs. Eoin Morgan's reverse sweep may demonstrate a lot of talent, but for sheer joyful pleasure it's not a patch on a Michael Vaughan drive.

Then there's the Gameplay. There's really not enough time in twenty overs for the narrative of the match to take any kind of shape - a team starts a little cautiously, then it either falls apart or takes off. If something starts to go badly for either the fielding or batting side, there's simply not enough time for them to recover the situation. Result? Well if you saw the CLT20 final you'll know alright... If, as Swiss Tony might say, Test Cricket is "very much like making love to a beautiful woman", then the IPL is the equivalent of getting a hand job from a cheap tart. If this is the beginning of the end for IPL, it can't come soon enough for me.

However, I have to say the IPL did get one thing right which other administrators, especially the ECB, should learn from: If you want people to watch cricket, you've got to let them watch it. It's a pretty stupid state of affairs when I can watch some twazzok throwing a Mongoose about half way round the world for free, yet I can't watch a Test Match that's going on less than thirty miles away without getting my wallet out. Never mind all the guff about money going into the grass roots - if kids don't grow up watching and wanting to play cricket that money will be wasted anyway. In my opinion the ECB should decide on a flagship cricket product, be it home tests, ODIs, the County Championship, the CB40 or whatever, and then go whoring themselves around the terrestrial broadcasters saying "hey guys, we'll give this to you for FREE, as long as you give it excellent coverage in a good timeslot and make sure lots of people watch it". It would be so healthy for the game if more kids actually had a chance to see what cricket's really about.

Rant over. I feel better now...


MPA first eleven said...

Mate, I think there's a lot of people like myself that would agree with the gist of your post here and I've had this out with a few people on bigcricket.com, but the whole world is based on and craves instant gratification and to you and I it may look like we're standing on the edge of the abyss looking in on something very dark (A world without test cricket)? Everywhere you look it's all about 'I want it and I want it now on my terms'. Mobile phones, digital cameras, PS3's, X Boxes, Twatter, Moodle what ever the F*** that is, SKY TV, X-Factor, adverts that you haven't got a clue what is they're advertising, the gadget show, it is all the anathema of Test cricket in some form or another. It is all about instant gratification and it suits the over-weight fast food sit around on their fat arses types that we see all around us and they are just not going to 'Get' a game of cricket that can go on for 4 or 5 days and the few that are out there that might see it and appreciate it will be denied it because of Murdoch and the fact that he's pushed cricket to the very margins of society by restricting access to it by virtue of making it unaffordable for most in this country.

But all that said it's Murdochs money that pays for the short term shoring up of all forms of cricket in this country I'm assured. And the only time a cricket ground is ever going to be packed to the rafters is when the match last just a few hours and you have all those awful things you've described. Soon on the horizon according to Bob Woolmer, because the current generation of gadget crazed misanthropes will barely have the physical strength to pick up a ball and throw it, will be smaller boundaries (looks better with all those 6's) and a shorter wicket to accomodate the feeble bowlers, who know doubt will be Tweeting each other between over with inane nonesense along the lines of usual twitter bollocks.

Pencil Cricket said...

I really don't see what chance anyone from the outside has of getting to understand cricket without the opportunity to casually dip in every now and then and gradually see what it's all about. 16 years ago I got into F1 which is another sport that requires some understanding to be fully appreciated and if it wasn't on free-to-air TV I never would have seen enough to develop an interest in it. Surely the big sponsorship money is to be made by getting sponsors' logos as widely seen as possible and on Sky that just can't happen. I think the ECB is thinking in such a silly short-term way. Sky's money may be funding all sorts of things for all sorts of clubs but unless cricket gets some more prominent TV coverage I think we really will be in trouble in a decade or so as the current crop of cricket fans die off and the youngsters that should come in to replace them instead find something more accessible to spend their time on. It may not be long before demand to watch cricket starts to tail off and the money broadcasters are prepared to pay tails off as a result. And that really would be a problem.

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