It’s been over 24 hours since we last watched T20 cricket and the withdrawal symptoms might be showing up. As the next best thing to the next best thing after the World Cup, the Champions Trophy 2017 is still over a whole week away, here’s my attempt at filtering all the lessons and learnings from the season past. Of course, nobody does post-mortem these days, but with the father of all sports leagues in India entering its 11th year soon, a little look-back could be worth.
The team you passionately support could vanish.... And re-appear, or not. Ask the passionate fans of Rajasthan Royals (RR), Chennai Super Kings (CSK) or Kochi Tuskers Kerala (KTK) how it feels to have invested hours of time, arguments and prayers in teams that are best viewed in court case updates or archived scorecards. The fate of Gujarat Lions (GL), play-off team of the last season and Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS), title winners minus one run, is in the air now and it will hurt their fans if they do not reincarnate like Hindu Gods in televised Mahabharat next season. Relegation is for dummies.
‘Night IPL’ could be a thing
With the eliminator game between Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) finishing a little before sunrise, there was much criticism about IPL not having reserve days for vital games. But the Board getting space in the international calendar is as likely as Danny Morrison getting space in between his shrieks in commentary. There are more private T20 leagues than ever before, so IPL will be crammed in-between two events of lesser importance every year.
But wait, didn't hundreds of spectators wait for hours at Chinnaswamy for an innings that ended in 20 minutes? Didn't all of India’s pub bouncers, security guards and BPO employees watch that? It only means there’s space for a night IPL. That’s why Team India toured the USA last year, right?
They don’t teach fielding or catching in school anymore
The number of catches dropped this season was over 70, which means more than one for every game on an average. Worse, the virus was across teams and players — some won despite the dropped catches and some lost because of that. The fielding and running between wickets was at best mediocre too, and for a league that prides itself in flaunting young players’ athleticism, it was an eyesore. Evidently, elementary coaches do not bother teaching about keeping an eye on the ball and all that any more.
Umpires need an alternate career
The umpiring howlers came a close second to the dropped catches. They came in all sizes and kinds — from a knick that wasn't heard to an inside edge that wasn’t seen. Hundreds of our collective minutes were wasted when the umpires this season asked for ‘referrals’ to be safe about a run-out that was evidently not to be. Every batsman who was caught out was asked to wait outside the dug-out for a clean-ball reconfirmation, and yet I remember watching a wicket fall off a big no-ball that wasn’t spotted. So S Ravi, Padmanabhan and Co, you could either ask BCCI for treatment at the best laser eye-therapy clinic or look for another gig, because I’m pretty sure some folks at the Hellen Keller Institute have better functioning sensory organs.
BCCI cares about women’s cricket (not)
With the Committee of Administrators (COA) having a lady, there is hope for India’s women cricketers to get a fraction of the attention bestowed upon men. Why, we even saw Gavaskar, Shastri and Co hand out supersized cheques to former cricketers as a one-time show of gratitude. That there was a report of a few ladies still waiting for actual cheques to show up was another matter.
BCCI’s attitude towards women’s cricket is summed up by two things — a recent Indian women’s international game did not even find existence on the Board’s site, and it has slotted an irrelevant tour to West Indies bang in the middle of the ICC Women’s World Cup next month.
Death, taxes and Daredevils
Should I say more about the constants of life? It was only a smoke screen that appeared when Zaheer Khan returned to action and the famed ex-Rajasthan duo of Rahul Dravid-Paddy Upton got behind Delhi Daredevils early this season. But the scorecards, barring a few exciting victories, showed the same old story.
‘Feeling bad for Dravid’ is a thing. Why?
Which brings me to the lesson about feeling bad about Rahul Dravid. Whenever the Daredevils collapsed this season, there was generous footage of a dejected Dravid, leading to much sympathy on social media. Why? Wasn’t he as accountable, as coach, for the failures of the team — and for its shoddy catching and fielding this season? Perhaps this is a sign that the former legend and the 'God of Defence' may not be a great leader, after all *cough-guess-who-was-the-captain-of-India-in-World-Cup-2007-cough*
Dravid as just batting coach or mentor? Sure. But I have no tears for 'Jammy' as coach any more.
The next decade could have way less drama
The Indian Premier League in its first decade was like an infant — it shat its pants in public, embarrassed parents and guardians, threw tantrums and was rapped by higher powers for misbehaviour. We saw sex (a team owner reprimanded in South Africa for teasing a woman), drugs (remember Rahul Sharma and Wayne Parnell?) and rock-and-roll (with Srini, his son-in-law and company) but now, it could be time to mature.
Of course, there will be growing pangs, teenage rebellion but we might just see a mature, capable IPL by the end of it.
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