Phew! The Indian Premier League is over. Must say it is one huge energy-sapping experience for our aam janta; with all the huge sixes, cheer girls in skimpy outfits, frantic flag-waving, Mexican waves, ladies making enthralling fashion statements, men rejoicing as if there is no tomorrow.
England's Ben Stokes celebrates the wicket of New Zealand's Mark Craig during Day Five of the Lord's Test on Monday. Pic/AFP
Four hours of non-stop exhilarating excitement. What better than a live IPL match to have a family picnic — much better than any multi-starrer movie. Possibly, stardom too. If you are lucky, you can let go of a full-throated scream right into the camera.
You are on TV. You are a star in your college. You would be the next big thing in your office tomorrow. The Ranbir or Katrina of your neighbourhood. Full paisa vasool. But, there is a but. What about poor little souls like us? Where does that leave the cricket-loving purists? IPL really knocks the wind out of the connoisseurs.
The moolah-raking, high octane, amazingly energetic excitement really gets to you. Of course, if you have watched all matches, it would have zapped you so much that by now you would have probably collapsed with exhaustion.
Back to sanity
Thankfully, it is back to sanity now. At least for a while. Watching the opening Test of the England vs New Zealand Test match gave me inner peace. Now, one can't wait for the final Test at Leeds and the Australia vs West Indies Test series, before the Ashes.
Call me old-fashioned, but the joy of watching real, good quality Test cricket still gives me goose bumps. The mere sight of a Jimmy Anderson or a Dale Steyn bowling with three slips and a gully evokes pleasant memories.
Give me the classical cover drive, the divine judgment of a Sunil Gavaskar outside the off-stump, the ethereal straight drive of a Sachin Tendulkar or the bamboozling spin of a Shane Warne.
Alas! I know it is now futile to even dream of it, but I really wish that cricket reverts back to being a skill game instead of the slam-bang maar-dhaad variety that is witnessed in most IPL matches. There would be some who will counter that saying that it requires technique, skill and planning even in T20 matches. Really?
IPL has really changed the complexion of the game.
The reverse sweep, the scoop, the cross-batted whack, the infinite sixes, the countless slower ones, the aimless cheering, the strategic time-outs, the Gayles, the Bravos, the Pollards and the innumerable little twinkling stars that fade away in the bright, scorching, unforgiving sun of Test cricket. Am I going to miss all this? IPL vs Test cricket? Well, oh dear, we are a minority!