Fancy me, the avowed cricket-illiterate, talking cricket! Well, age gives you a certain confidence, bordering on bravado: like, if every ignoramus in India can give expert commentaries, why not me?
So here’s my take on the new TNPL. I am impressed!
First off, everybody on the field looks happy. This is a marked improvement over the jaded faces you saw in Ye Olde IPL. Compare the BEAMING Balaji (Lakshmipathy) with the GLOWERING Gautam Gambhir, and you’ll know what I mean. The sport looks more lively when the players are displaying enjoyment, instead of looking like they swallowed a (now extinct) 25p coin!
There is an astonishingly new crop of young players, all wanting to excel. The commentators are busy inventorying their talents, while every match unfolds. That’s different from few seasons before— when the commentators filled every pause with “Tendulkar knows when to retire”. Some of them come with exotic names—- X.Thalaivan Sargunam, Yazh Arul Mozhi, Washington Sundar, Kaushik Gandhi, Silambarasan, Maan Bafna, Edward Kennedy, Shah Jahan…. Every team seems to have an Ashwin and/or Anirudh; and —I love this — there are even 3.9 Kaushiks in the tourney (the last 0.9 is because there is a guy called Aushik)!
Although this is only a local event, the coverage is international. Star Sports 1 is covering the event, every ball and every blade of grass. The presenters include Australian stars like Mathew Hayden, Brett Lee and Dean Jones and a whole host of other luminaries. At any time, there are about 5 or 6 guys in the box and they “rotate the strike” like a good cricketing side would. They are full of joie de vivre and that is nice.
The presentation is like a West Indian Carnival. Between breaks, you have clips of Dean Jones learning to tie the “veshti” (dhoti), Brett Lee trying to do a Rajnikant at Kanyakumari beach and Matt Hayden learning to make kothu paratha! I thought it was lively entertainment, though I can hear purists gasp “That’s not cricket!”. But, when was the last time when cricket was about cricket? “Power Play” meant Sharad Pawar, Arun Jaitley, Farookh Abdullah and other disinterested parties were bickering; “captaincy” meant that Dhoni had to manage both Yuvraj Singh and his father bitching about Dhoni; “transparency” was all about nationalising Kohli’s private life; “honour” was about the honourable Katju and the honourable Lodha implying that the other was dishonourable. At least, TNPL appears pleasant— the Aussies revelling in Dindugal Biryani, Tirunelveli Halwa & Madurai Jigarthanda— even while the youngsters were playing their heart out.
And business has never been better— the players are wearing new brands (not their attitude) on their sleeves. Ever heard of Nandu brand lungies and Krishna Mines White Paint? There are many more. The rural stadia are overflowing with cricket fans— I bet you noticed it in the Tirunelveli stadium during the semi-final event: brimming with new customers for these yuppie brands. Surely, this must be a marketing break-through of sorts?
A few mysteries remain:
- Why is TNPL persisting with the cheerleaders? I am clueless, just like the cheerleaders. Who are they, were they disqualified in Round #1 of IPL auditions?
- Why is Dindigul Dragons “dragons”, when there are no dragons or Chinese anywhere near Dindigul?
- Is Krish Srikkant delivering the commentary in Tamil? I can’t say, since his delivery was @ 217 words per minute.
- In what language is the TNPL anthem sung? I suspect it is a Tamil dialect spoken in ancient Abyssinia. Look at the first stanza and let me know if you have a better theory:
Damkutla Dumkutla Udunkutla Adunkutla
Thenna Matta Paricha Atta Engaluku Bat-U
Damkutla Dumkutla Udunkutla Adunkutla
Suvara Stump Ah Maathiduvom Moonu Koda Pottu
How was the quality of cricket? Oh, I nearly forgot cricket! Yes, there were the usual blunders: “Kaattu-Adi” batting (wild swings), stupid run-outs and balls that were so wide as to reach the 1st slip. But they were overshadowed by some brilliant catching, wily spin-bowling and thoughtful batting. Clearly there is a depth of talent that was hitherto un-publicised.
N.Srinivasan is a very controversial man. But there can be no controversy about the fact that he has pulled off a coup with the TNPL.
Disclaimer : Any “sensible” cricketing comment in this post is purely accidental!