Fred’s IPL Diary: Week 2

Notes and observations on Week Two of the IPL.

Thursday 16th April, Visakhapatnam

It was reported today that the Champions League T20 could be scrapped by majority-owners of the tournament, the BCCI, due to the tournament’s failure to attract significant fan or sponsor interest.

Even if the CLT20 isn't scrapped, the fact that there are even rumours about it is evidence enough to suggest such options are at the very least being discussed, if not considered. That in itself is revealing.

The CLT20 has never been a good tournament. It was created to make money, not spread the sport and its wealth around the globe and this motive ensured it was unbalanced towards Indian teams both on and off the pitch from the very beginning, existing simply as an extension of the IPL despite its obvious potential to be so much more.

If indeed it is scrapped, the CLT20 in its existing form will not be missed, what will be is the opportunity it presented.

A global domestic T20 tournament bringing together the best teams from around the world would've given greater context and meaning to the format of cricket many believe is the future of cricket.

As it is, the concept was betrayed and thus doomed from the start. The CLT20’s creation, existence and forecast demise represent so much of what is wrong with the way cricket is being run.

It would not be surprising to see a second, perhaps shorter IPL season, or the second half of a longer IPL season take the place of the CLT20, if and when it is scrapped.

Friday 17th April, Mumbai

The Chennai Super Kings scored 90 runs in their first six overs against Mumbai Indians today, the second highest Powerplay score in IPL history. Meanwhile, in Antigua, the West Indies were scoring 90 runs in an entire 30-over session of Test match cricket. With stats like these it seems fanciful to believe T20 fans will ever be pushed upwards towards the Test format. Tests and T20s are worlds apart and their worlds rarely collide.

Saturday 18th April, Visakhapatnam and Pune

Sunrisers Hyderabad need seven runs to win off two balls against Delhi Daredevils. The ball from Nathan Coulter-Nile is full; left-hander Karn Shama sends it skimming over the off side. It travels hard and flat towards the deep cover boundary. The ball is going for six. Too hard to be caught, too flat to be caught.

Mayank Agarwal is the fielder on the boundary. He’s not going to catch it but he leaps high and back. Arching his spine and spreading his arms he intercepts the ball in mid-flight, it slaps into his hands before he pushes his wrists outwards as he begins his descent.

Agarwal tumbles over the boundary rope, the ball drops down into the field of play. Agarwal leaps up and fizzes the ball back into the keeper. It’s not six. It’s not four. It’s just two. A glance at the scoreboard will never tell the story. It’s high time broadcasters start displaying runs saved in the field. It’s as much a skill as catching is.

Sunday 19th April, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru

There are times when cricket shoots itself in the foot. When, after a rain delay, lunch is taken early with the sun out. When Stumps are drawn with one wicket needed. There are times when cricket lacks pragmatism. Lacks a heart. Today was not one of those days.

After the on-field umpires told Kieron Pollard to tone down the chatter to the batsman Chris Gayle today, Pollard responded by jokingly placing duct tape over his mouth. Rules broken? Regulations infringed? Laws disregarded? I dunno. Maybe he did break law 525.26 but no one said anything. The crowd laughed. The players laughed. Cricket laughed.

Monday 20th April, Delhi

The Chennai Super Kings Twitter handle passed 1.5 million followers on Twitter today. With Twitter a useful gauge of popularity, it made me wander how each team fared.

Perhaps most interestingly, the Delhi Daredevils, team of India’s capital city are the least popular team on Twitter, even less so than the Sunrisers Hyderabad who have only been in existence for three seasons.

More understandably, the league’s three most successful teams, CSK, KKR and MI are the three most popular. It is comforting to know that in the age of mega-stars and celebrity owners, successful teams are popular teams.

Here’s the full list:

Chennai Super Kings – @ChennaiIPL: 1.5mil
Kolkata Knight Riders:  – @KKRiders: 1.07mil
Mumbai Indians – @mipaltan: 982k
Kings XI Punjab – @lionsdenkxip: 672k
Royal Challengers Bangalore – @RCBTweets: 945k
Rajasthan Royals – @rajasthanroyals: 643k
Sunrisers Hyderabad – @SunRisers: 585k
Delhi Daredevils – @DelhiDaredevils: 562k

Meanwhile, it was reported today that a decision on the future of the Champions League T20 will be made on April 26th.

Tuesday 21st April, Ahmedabad

I had a BBQ with my house-mates and some friends today. Three of us enjoy cricket and have together probably seen almost every ball bowled this IPL season. The rest couldn't tell their Super Kings from a Super Over.

We left the Rajasthan Royals-Kings XI Punjab match on in the background as the afternoon drifted along. With two overs to go about five of us were huddled around the screen. With two balls to go there were about nine of us. All twelve of us watched the Super Over.

Wednesday 22nd April, Visakhapatnam and Bengaluru

It’s rather symbolic that eight years after the Madras franchise, later to become Chennai Super Kings, was sold for Rs. 364 crore ($91 million), its owners, India Cement Ltd, are seeking to sell it for just Rs. 5 lakh ($8000).

Of course, Rs. 5 lakh is not the market-value of CSK – it is purposefully being undervalued so to hasten its sale and delink the franchise from N Srinivasan, whose conflict of interest as a team owner was heavily criticised by the Supreme Court and ordered to end. But still, it is symbolic, ironic and quite frankly amazing and, or amusing in equal measure that it has come to this.

Freddie Wilde
Freelance Cricket Journalist