If anything underlines just how amazingly ridiculous the IPL is, then it’s the fact that in IPL Land, Shane Watson is Steven Peter Devereux Smith’s captain. Just let that one sink in. Watto captaining Devereux. Watto captaining anyone. Surely, after having front row seats at Watson’s display during the fourth Test of Australia’s tour of 2013, where he put in the worst captaincy effort the world has seen since the Costa Concordia ran aground, Indians more than anyone should realise that putting Watson in charge of a team is just asking for disaster. And yet in the IPL, it somehow feels fitting.
We couldn’t possibly hazard a guess as to how this IPL season will turn out. We imagine it will be much like previous seasons in which a bunch of teams will burst out of the gates, fall over hilariously in sight of the knockout stages and ultimately one of either Chennai or Kolkata will end up winning the thing. That’s usually how these things seem to go anyway. Even if we have a hunch Kings XI Punjab will take it out this time round.
We look forward to Rajasthan experimenting with batting Devereux at the innovative position of number nine (to better take advantage of his late game hitting will be the argument), before dropping him for some random over the hill batsman they forgot they had signed in the first place. And we are looking forward to seeing Ravi Bopara looking very bored as he sits on the sidelines. Actually, Ravi always looks bored, whether he’s playing or not. But most of all, we’re looking forward to seeing whether Brad Hogg actually gets a game or not for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Because if he does, it promises to be magnificent.
Other notable highlights to look out for are Yuvraj Singh’s inevitable failure with the Delhi Daredevils after becoming the IPL’s most expensive signing of the 2015 auction, which was presumably entirely based on the hope that he’ll flog a few extra shirts and get a few more bums on seats at home games. Also Trent Boult taking new ball duties alongside Dale Steyn for the Sunrisers Hyderabad should be something to see. Although there is the ever present danger that they could just give the new ball to Ishant Sharma instead. Which would still be watchable, just for very different reasons.
On the whole, we have the not entirely unjustified expectation that after a World Cup that saw stumps cartwheeling with some regularity, it will be a return to filth merchants leading the way here. Mitchell’s Johnson and Starc will probably go back to being cannon fodder on dry decks that bounce about as much as the Lehmann Brothers stock price in 2008. We expect the pretty impressive Imran Tahir to rank high amongst the wicket takers list, as will a new and improved (and definitely in no way a chucker) Sunil Narine.
As for the English contingent, now with the notable absence of one Kevin Pietersen who has instead returned to England purely to spite all the journalists who have been rubbishing him for ages (he’s no Gary Ballance apparently), we don’t expect much. Unsurprisingly. Eoin Morgan will probably play ahead of Ravi Bopara for the Sunrisers, and we wouldn’t be surprised if he actually does okay now that he’s away from Peter Moores’ endless team meetings about the wonderful ways in which data can be used to improve every aspect of your life. But then he was absolutely wretched in the Big Bash, so it wouldn’t surprise us if he continues that form here as well.
And that pretty much wraps everything up. It’s hard to know what to say about the IPL really. It all goes on for so very long that it ends up becoming a bit samey long before the end and it’s hard to get enthused about the sight of Ashok Dinda getting carted all over the place when you’ve seen the same thing happen about a million times before. Which isn’t to say there won’t be some great games and genuinely absorbing contests involved, as there almost certainly will be, it’s just that it usually takes some effort to isolate them from the dross that accounts for the rest of the tournament. And with Danny Morrison screeching at you the whole time, well, it can become a bit too much to bear after a while.
Especially considering that we still cry ourselves to sleep every night over the demise of the Pune Warriors.