In & Out: In it for the Green Jesus

2015-04-12 15:00

In the chorus to the tastefully overstated theme song to Slumdog Millionaire, rapper M.I.A. chants: “All I want to do is (bang bang bang bang), and (click, ka-ching) take your money.”

If you might recall, this contemporary classic film set on the subcontinent is based on a rags-to-riches tale by Vikas Swarup; one which – perhaps unsurprisingly – correlates quite nicely with what’s going on right now in the world of cricket.

As the money-drenched sahibs and fortune-seeking chaiwallahs (tea vendors) of the oval made their season debuts for their respective franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this week, the lyrics to Paper Planes would have likely summed up what many of them were thinking: we’re just in it for the Green Jesus.

This because only some higher power could provide a semblance of an idea as to the “deeper meaning” of the IPL.

India and Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni tops the 2015 IPL rich list, raking in a minimum estimated bounty of $3?million (R36?million) for a tidy two months’ work.

Proteas stars Dale Steyn (Sunrisers Hyderabad) and David Miller (Kings XI Punjab) sit at numbers four and five on the list, respectively, each expected to walk away with at least $2?million. These figures, of course, don’t take into consideration endorsements, performance bonuses and other spin-off gold just waiting to be exploited in a country with a population of more than 1.2?billion cricket devotees.

Now that national pride is out of the way and the curtain-raiser that was the 2015 cricket World Cup played out to an anticlimactic finale, the cricket-viewing public can cast its gaze on the annual bhangra spectacle that seldom fails to entertain, much like Delhi Daredevil Imran Tahir after he dismisses a tail-ender.

Understatement has never been associated with the flashy affair, something ESPNCricinfo associate editor Nagraj Gollapudi touched on in the week when contemplating a somewhat “restrained” opening to this year’s IPL, due to it taking place so soon after the World Cup and that Kolkata, the city in which the opening match took place, was in the grip of municipal election fever.

“Theatre is a huge part of IPL’s fabric…” he wrote. “Despite the weariness, the man on the street knows the IPL is here. Soon, the local trains will be raging with debates about matches from around the country. The IPL might start on a muted note, but the volume is only going to get louder by the day.”

By that rationale, we’re in for a cacophony if the volume increases past the fever pitch of the opening match between defending champions the Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians on Wednesday evening at Eden Gardens.

Famous colonialist and writer of much-loved children’s stories Rudyard Kipling wrote that “India is a place beyond all others where one must not take things too seriously”.

In a country where cricketers have become gods, Kipling’s condescending assertion seems a relic of a bygone era. For IPL players, who, for a brief, blingy two months aren’t expected to play for pride, racking up the rupees is as serious as it gets.

*@Longbottom_69 is an armchair cricket critic. He believes the bottom line is the

only line that really matters.

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