Ready or not … it’s back

2010-03-13 00:00

AND so it has returned.

The IPL circus is back on our screens, but for some reason there has not been the incessant hype that proceeded the first two editions.

Maybe it’s because the world has bigger problems, with quakes and corruption being regular subjects of everyday life.

Or, it’s because this one is not in South Africa and therefore the organisers don’t need to feed us the endless tripe about “adopting” a franchise whose home base you can’t even spell, never mind pronounce.

Then again, it could be because this year’s affair has been riddled with security fears and the distinct whiff of a new kid getting too big for his boots.

Lalit Modi and company have sought to capitalise on their firm footing in cricket, and have started to bully domestic boards to dance to their tune.

The swift scheduling of the Champions League — a sort of stepbrother to the IPL — showed scant regard for the English season, smacking the start of that lucrative hit and giggle right into the same slot occupied by England’s final dash at the end of the season.

There could only be one winner, and it seems that the English will have to reshuffle and re-negotiate in order to appease players fearful of losing out on more quick bucks.

It is a warning to all administrators — this is how Hitlers are reared.

Modi may be allowed to get away with these little inconveniences now, but what happens when he starts going toe-to-toe against the international programme.

The ICC seems to be in no man’s land, with the players all practically begging for an official IPL window to allow them maximum opportunity to cash in.

It truly is life-altering stuff, is the IPL and its riches.

If, for example, we look at Kieron Pollard, who will earn up to $750 000 over the next seven weeks, we can see just how quickly life can change for a cricketer these days.

Pollard shone in last year’s Champions League for Trinidad and Tobago, and that was enough for the IPL headhunters to take notice.

The same goes for Wayne Parnell, who will scoop close to R5 million if he plays most games.

Such numbers are bandied about almost nonchalantly these days, such is the state of the game.

A few years ago, an honest professional would have been more than thrilled with those sums as entire career earnings.

Not anymore.

The West Indies’ former legends have spoken out at the vast salary afforded to Pollard. They feel it will affect his loyalty to the islands, because he will not have that hunger and pride — what with pockets spilling over with crisp dollar notes.

It isn’t Pollard’s own fault that he was born into a generation that can afford to throw such sums at ordinary players, but you can detect a hint of resentment from the legends.

Heck, they must wish that they were still in their prime. But can you seriously imagine Michael Holding ambling to the crease while sporting a canary yellow uniform, with more advertising logos than the stadium itself emblazoned all over his shirt?

It’s not the most pleasant of thoughts, so we shall swiftly move on.

The amount of cricket being played these days means half the international players will be arriving in dribs and drabs.

Hardly ideal, but you can be sure that they will be there. This is their meal ticket, their golden pass to a life of luxury and leisure.

The likes of Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist must consider all this a godsend.

All they do is work for these few weeks, rack up the dollars and then chill for the rest of the year.

Well, who wouldn’t want that sort of career?

Hayden has used his spare time to even try out a new bat that he will bring out when the action begins. It’s called the “mongoose” and it does look rather fishy.

It’s probably best to leave such curious devices to curious characters like Australians.

Whether it will give him the kind of runs he rattled up last year is debatable, but we shall soon see.

It seems like a long time since Gilchrist lifted the IPL trophy at a packed Wanderers just over a year ago, but then again it’s been a hectic time, what with 2010 fever gathering momentum, depressing budget talks, president’s pardons and the occasional bit of good news from some of our national sports teams.

So, if you have nothing better to do, why not flick on the IPL.

You may not care how the people of Chandigarh react to Kings XI Punjab’s (who?!) results, but you will at least be able to enjoy the carnage from your armchair.

Now if that sounds like too much work, you are probably a Sharks supporter who has been exposed to too much gloom on the telly.

It’s not your fault.

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