The facts first: I've not missed a single IPL match this season. I'm a cricket junkie. And I quite like the IPL. However, I've somehow developed a love-hate relationship with Lalit Modi's billion-dollar baby. Here's why...
Have you dared to tune into the Hindi commentary? Arun Lal, Atul Wassan, Saba Karim and Co have forced me to use the mute button. To say they are intolerable is putting it very mildly. If you want to speak in Hindi, please go ahead. But don't call a bread-and-butter shot 'nashte ka shot'. I prefer watching the games on YouTube (despite the five-minute delay and my poor wi-fi connection) just to hear the English commentary.
The IPL has tied up with the UN Environment Programme ostensibly "to become one of the most environmentally-friendly major sports events in the world and bring environmental awareness to millions of sports fans around the world". So, before every match, one of the commentators spells out a simplistic environment protection tip. Three hours later, there's a flurry of hazardous firecrackers to celebrate one team's win over the other. The sky is bright enough for you to be fooled into believing it's New Year's Eve or Diwali. The truth: it's a league match of the environment-conscious IPL. And we're not even getting into facts like how much power could have been saved if the matches weren't played under lights.
Last time I checked, cricket was about fours, sixes, wickets and catches. Not DLF Maximum, Citi Moment of Success and Karbonn Kamaal Catch and what have you. Marketers can go to any extent to score high on brand recall in their next market research report. But this is pushing it a bit too far. Tweaking the rules of cricket is acceptable, but altering its lexicon is not.
Lalit 'I Am Everywhere' Modi
Yes, he gave birth to the IPL. Thank you very much. But he's like this over-enthusiastic single parent who won't take his eye off his child even for a nanosecond. He's in the stands, he's in the dug-out, he's in the commentary box, he's at the presentation ceremony and then at the after-party. He's also on Twitter. Even if you stop following him, he has enough cronies retweeting his posts. But it's too much to ask for any modi-fication, isn't it?
They may have spent precious millions on buying their teams, but the franchise owners have no business sitting in the dugout. It's not a place for cricketers to explain the difference between leg-spin and off-spin to their owners. If you've paid a bomb to hire a coach, let him do his job in peace. And let the players enjoy the guy-talk. You don't see owners chatting with players on the bench or on the sidelines during an EPL game. It's a professional league, not a family picnic. Though I must confess, it's nice to see Preity Zinta giving her boys the high-fives every time there's a, well, Citi Moment of Success.
The cramped international calendar and equally tough IPL schedule leaves players with little time to rest. To make matters worse, the players have to now compulsorily attend after-parties in the company of some dishy women and, of course, ubiquitous team owners. It sure makes for mouthwatering gossip and glossy tabloid photos but it's tough on the players who are anyway under constant media glare. The idea of commentators speaking to players on the ground during the course of a match is equally unreasonable. The trouble is, there's way too much money at stake for anyone to dissent.
I think I've spewed enough venom for the BCCI to hit me for a DLF Maximum. It's time for a Max Mobile Strategic Time-Out.