The latest installment of the Indian Premier League has been a bit dull. Well, let's been honest, it's been duller than watching ditch water-coloured paint dry while stuck in a lift with a trainspotter. We've had more parades than a Kim Jong-un birthday celebration, as teams batting second have merrily knocked off targets with monotonous, untroubled ease. It's obviously quite hard to pinpoint why a tournament in a format designed to produce tight finishes is currently producing so many one-sided encounters, but clearly something needs to be done, or the IPL will be overtaken by the BBL, CPL or, good heavens, even the Natwest Blast!
Things could just improve of their own accord, of course, but in the megabucks world of franchise cricket, ennui ultimately means empty pockets, so here are a few suggestions to liven things up a bit:
All pitches to remain unwatered
This may admittedly prove a little harsh on players' knees in the outfield but the benefits are obvious. Firstly, all teams could comply with the current, stringent drought regulations without having to up sticks and play at other grounds. Secondly, it would make these presently cushy chases considerably harder on pitches breaking up more than the average Kardashian relationship. Thirdly, there's great mirth to be had watching spin-wary Englishmen, Australians and South Africans stagger around, all sticky-footed and bemused like Bambi on ice-cream.
Many people condemned Indian groundsmen when the Proteas floundered in last year's Test series, but given how batting-friendly people allege modern cricket is, that slapstick dustfest was actually quite compelling. "But won't these ultra-dry pitches embarrass Indian batsmen too?" concerned patriotic home fans might ask. Well, you can rest easy on that front: Mitchell Santner isn't playing this IPL.
Harbhajan Singh to join Matthew Hayden in the commentary box
Hayden's radio stints on BBC Test Match Special have revealed him to be a far more multi-dimensional character than some might have given him credit for. The Brisbane bruiser comes across as erudite and measured and has attempted, though admittedly not always successfully, to carry this mode into his IPL mic efforts.
But we don't want that Matthew Hayden. This is the IPL, with no time for nuances or niceties. We want Haydos the bully. We want him to pulverise his vocal chords like he pulverised attacks. We want, to borrow the phrase he himself once used, cricketainment!
We need something to get him going and what better way than to introduce his old chum Harbhajan Singh into the commentary box on days when Mumbai Indians aren't playing. A reprise of their Sydney 2008 rapport is bound to lead to increased levels of passion:
Bhajji: "Hey, Haydos. What about that shot from AB?"
Hayden: "You're still an obnoxious little weed."
Bhajji: "Ha, Haydos. You Aussies and your earthy humour."
Hayden: "No, I mean it."
Laxman Sivaramakrishnan: "When is Harsha coming back?"
With this lightning banter in their ears, IPL fans will soon forget about the turgid fare their eyes are being served up.
Spidercam to be replaced with actual spiders with cameras
Hmm, Spidercam. It has its moments, I suppose, especially when fielding at third man, but all in all it seems a bit like Google Glass: A fantastic bit of technology the public has never quite managed to see the benefits of. It should therefore be replaced by actual spiders fitted with nano-cameras, sort of cricketing arachnodrones free to wander wherever they wish across the playing surface and beyond. They could offer all sorts of video angles conventional technology can’t provide — one may crawl into Ishant's beard and reveal its tufty secrets, for instance — although clearly there is a slight concern they may all just choose to congregate at fly slip.
Compulsory order reversal
The County Championship has had a bit of an off-the-field revamp this year, with a new social media team in place trying to make it all funky and youthful. They've even introduced a rather mischievous hashtag terming the English first class competition as #ProperCricket. This may seem a bit deluded to anyone noting some grounds feature more players than fans, but the competition undoubtedly has numerous charms and has so far produced more moments of excitement than the current IPL. One such was confirmed Gloucestershire Number 11 Liam Norwell this week scoring a century against Derbyshire from nightwatchman.
We're just not seeing that sort of thrilling against the odds action in this IPL, so from now on all teams shall be compelled to reverse their batting orders. This is bad news for Gautam Gambhir, of course as he's in such good nick opening there are unconfirmed reports he may even have smiled during one match, but for the good of the tournament, we need the novelty of seeing bowlers facing the new ball. Obviously, in King's XI, people might not actually notice a huge amount of difference.
Introduction of DRS
This is included as the statutorily required piece of BCCI trolling but a bored public can do strange things to a cash-lusting cricket board. If this year's tournament fails to catch fire, the BCCI could actually pull the ultimate rabbit out of their hat for IPL 2017. Possibly a more fanciful suggestion than the first four. Possibly not. Perhaps we should all get ready for that "Citibank moment of rock'n'roll"?