It’s no secret that we at 51allout love our fast food. Watching more than six hours of cricket every day is hard work, and by the end cooking is the very last thing on our mind, especially given that there don’t seem to be any pots or pans in the 51allout hostel. But having said that, even we draw the line at trying to eat our own height in Subway. Far, far too much of a good thing inevitably leads to someone being sick everywhere.
This is, of course, a convoluted metaphor for the IPL, mainly for the bit when Steve Smith was sick everywhere. Yes, we were interested at first, especially given that we had a team to get behind. Unfortunately we were literally the only ones behind them, as all the other teams disappeared past them and off into the sunset. And by this point there were still about half a million games to go. Luckily for us some proper cricket came along and we could quickly banish all thoughts of Kieron Pollard to the rarely-used part of the mind that looks after grownup stuff, like paying bills and not stabbing people on the tube.
Of course, it would be wrong of us to let the IPL slip away into the night without giving it a good old-fashioned slating, so we got together 51allout’s finest minds (and James) for a bit of a chinwag.
Nichael Bluth: Morning fellas. Let’s talk about the IPL, starting with this question from regular reader Bunty Hoven:
Matt H: During a round of golf I hit my first ever birdie, I enjoyed The Bridge on BBC4 and I found a pub local to me that does great value Sunday roast lunches. And all in seven and a half weeks! Seriously though, as the member of the 51allout team with least interest in the IPL, I feel I can confess now to having seen 1.025 matches. Finding a highlight is therefore quite tricky. Perhaps the best thing for me as a megacynic, is Marlon Samuels leaving the nirvana of Pune early to play Test cricket – and make a decent fist of it.
Matt L: I think it was how the tournament was able to so beautifully showcase the pageantry of India. From Katy Perry’s rendition of “We Are The World” (I think that’s what she sang, it’s easy to get distracted when she’s on screen) at the opening ceremony, to Steve Smith’s own contribution of colour with what is known in the Australian vernacular as a ‘Technicolour Yawn’. In fact I found the efforts by the authorities to cover up Steve’s handiwork with sawdust highly symbolic of the issues facing the tournament itself. Of the struggle by players and fans to express themselves in a highly controlled and tightly policed environment. India!
Oh, and Dada castling KP of course.
James K: I won’t forget the shocking level of abuse directed at me in the intro. As for highlights, erm.. Those few glorious days where Pune demolished all before them and sat second in the league table, throwing our plans to support them only because we could then mock them relentlessly into disarray. The first couple of weeks were actually quite entertaining. It was the last 73 which were something of a struggle to get through. Essentially, the tournament went to shit after KP left.
NB: I have to say, I loved the fact that Steve Smith basically reinvented himself, completing changing our view of him from comedy character to serious cricketer surrounded by a useless bunch of bastards. Other than that I found it impossible to really enjoy any of it, other than mucking about on the live blogs. It’s just such a relentless chore – I foolishly downloaded the fixture list into Outlook and spent six weeks being plagued with relentless popups.
MH: Answering as an outsider again, my main complaints are the absence of any real identity to the sides (I couldn’t tell you who Pune played against in the one match I did sit down and endure) and of course the sheer brassneck ridiculousness of the length of the tournament. There might not be a realistic change to improve the first problem, but trimming the competition seems plausible in logistical terms, if not in financial. Two pools, with a Superbowl-style Grand Final, would be my suggestion.
ML: Well I would get rid of the ridiculous limit of only four foreign players per match. Plus I would make sure that Pakistani players were available to play in the tournament.
JK: I too think the four foreign players is too restrictive. Increasing it to five would make signing 11 for the squad in the first place slightly less of a total waste of money. The only thing I’d really like to change is to get more Englishmen involved – coaches and players. Even the ones that managed to get a contract (KP aside) only played about five games between them. It’s slightly galling to watch hundreds of mediocre Australians running about while the likes of Graeme Swann aren’t even signed up.
MH: They had eleven overseas players each?! I knew it was several, but not that many. James makes an interesting point about the English players. Didn’t Jimmy Anderson say he was hugely disappointed not to be signed? I wouldn’t totally begrudge English players the opportunity to play IPL, but I’d be a bit disgruntled if they included those in or on the fringe of the Test team, because IPL generally clashes either with the start of the county season or with a period of recuperation for the international players.
NB: I think they just need to own up and admit that developing future Indian talent is as much a part of the plan as the return of Steve Smith’s lunch was. Get some more of the ‘star’ (foreign) players actually playing. Look at Eoin Morgan – what an absolute waste of time that was for all concerned.
MH: We need a T20 competition that doesn’t drag on for ages, so that it’s not overkill. It’s the golden goose for many counties and though I’m no accountant, I imagine six games with full houses is financially more rewarding than twelve half-full matches. Franchises and auctions would help distinguish the competition from the Championship and Pro40, but could result in less local and loyal following. I wouldn’t be against more big international superstars playing in the competition, but I would be against more run-of-the-mill overseas players being selected just for the hell of it.
JK: I can see the thought behind it, but there’s barely a market for six weeks of the IPL, never mind a copycat T20 tournament starting about a month later. Plus there’s the problem of what the counties would do while it was going on. You could hardly continue the Championship alongside it, that would be a fiasco. I don’t think the current T20 Cup is that satisfactory given the way it splits the four day stuff and everything else stops for a few weeks but I’m not sure there’s a genuine alternative given, as Matt the Second says, the counties need the money it provides. Basically; we’re all doomed.
NB: Exactly what James says – there just isn’t the appetite in England for a tournament of that scale. Having city-based teams worked okay for the Big Bash in Australia, but things are a bit different there; going from supporting Western Australia to supporting Perth isn’t exactly a huge leap. Plus they still kept the number of games reasonable. I think there should be fewer games in England as well, thus making each one more significant. Finals day is brilliant though, and definitely needs keeping.
So there we are – IPL 2012 is done and dusted, with someone that wasn’t Pune going on to win it. But don’t worry: it’ll be back in just ten short months, and we’ll probably still be around to cover it, at least until we get bored and give up again. See you next April!