AMUSEMENTS IN THE IPL
It’s not only entertainment that the IPL dishes out but also amusement,year after year. In each of the past two seasons,one among the eight teams was a contender for the MGM Most Amusing Team award.
In 2008 it was the Royal Challengers whose owner felt as if he had tripped on a banana skin when someone congratulated him on selecting a Test team. The negative concerns he got in hindsight rubbed off on Rahul Dravid and the team was witness to fireworks from the opposing teams. Deeply agonised by this,the owner sacked everyone except the captain and the coach. It is rumoured that he even threatened to resign as owner of RCB and that it was a couple of rounds of Royal Challenge that brought him back to normal. In the 2009 season, he picked Kevin Pietersen and suddenly declared that RCB was no longer a Test team.
In the 2009 season it was the Kolkata Knightriders who were the most amusing team in the IPL not because of the fake IPL player but because of various other off-field incidents. The funniest of them included conducting talent hunts around the country and signing up 40 players most of who were yet to play a Ranji match.The size of the squad was such that you are not wrong if you thought that bystanders, who watch tennis ball cricket in Chennai corporation grounds or Shivaji Park, were also signed up.More amusing than the multiple captains theory was the multiple coaches theory.It is alright to have coaches for each department of the game but the overall size of KKR was such that there seemed to be coaches for midwicket fielding,deep cover fielding,mid-on catching etc.After Dilshan conceived the so called ‘Dilscoop’ Buchanan is rumoured to have hired a coach for that as well but the only taker for him was Brendon McCullum who brought up his own version of the Dilscoop which he exhibited in the T20I match against Australia.Then the team owner,the insecure Bollywood megalomaniac (according to FIP) flying back to India refusing to back his team till they started winning.But the players were actually found muttering “Good riddance.We will ensure he never comes here”.Most amusing of all was the fact that Brendon McCullum did not know the names of the squad members and did not bother to even know them.
The ongoing season was free of amusement so far but now the Chennai Super Kings have joined the bandwagon.They have decided they will not let go of an award that is presented by a famous amusement park in their home city.Innovative acts like picking hard-hitting allrounders and using them as bowling spearheads seems to be the brainchild of V B Chandrasekar,the chief selector.So much so that they have Albie Morkel opening the bowling attack,a strategy that reminds you of the days of Hansie Cronje when Pollock and Cronje used to open the bowling to be followed by Donald and Kallis.But you can’t blame Albie.The axe from the SA ODI team and a string of poor batting scores seems to be playing in his mind in such a way that the repercussions were seen far away in Ahmedabad where his brother Morne struggled to bowl to the field against RCB.
I keep wondering what it is in Joginder Sharma that the CSK management keeps playing him in the XI.When the going is smooth in the first six overs, he comes up with an overstep that finds its way to the boundary.Instead of rising up to the challenge of negating the free-hit, he delivers a similar one that the batsmen would be too happy to whack to the boundary amounting to nine runs in one ball.In 2008,he had to make way for Lakshmipathy Balaji and the next year he paved the way for Shadab Jakati.I hope this time he makes way for Ganapathy and is sent home like how Damien Martyn was sent home by the Royals.
I feel the real reason for Rajagopal Sathish being ignored by CSK is that Srinivasan would have preferred to observe him play in the domestic one-day and T20 competitions and then take a call on his selection.But by then it was too late and thanks to T A Sekar,Mumbai Indians casually picked him up leaving CSK to be a mere bystander to the proceeding.He has already impressed his captain with his performances against the Royals and the Knightiders and looks to be a permanent fixture in the MI side for at least eight matches this season.Before defecting to the ICL he would have played a few games for TN against Mumbai and may not have bowled to Sachin Tendulkar but now he finds himself batting alongside the maestro.And he is relishing this wonderful opportunity.
In 2008, the Delhi Daredevils came up with the most impressive signings but when they realised they had missed a wicketkeeper T A Sekar wasted no time in signing up Dinesh Karthik while CSK were forced to be content with Parthiv Patel.The former is now the second best keeper in India while the latter has two die-hard fans(the Gujarat coach and the chairman of selectors) in the Gujarat Cricket Association who believe he is the second best and he continues to prove them wrong.
Yesterday’s match saw the most number of amusements on display.Bringing in Joginder Sharma in place of Sudeep Tyagi who was economical against RCB,Balaji bowling the weirdest wides in cricket history,Joginder giving away 9 runs in one ball.Expect more such amusements from CSK in the coming days.The surprise I was talking about in this post is CSK’s signing up of Doug Bollinger who will join the CSK squad along with Michael Hussey on April 1.But after 2009′s amusing act of benching Hussey for the semi-final,I am afraid the two are going to be on paid holidays here.
The mother of all CSK amusements is the way they are utilising Makhaya Ntini.VB Chandrasekar keeps iterating that Ntini lifts the mood in the dugout.But is that what he is for? At this rate I expect him to be on a special “dressing room mood lifter” contract for another three seasons.