Of bet and ball: Deciphering the new IPL bouncers

Feb 16, 2014, 07:43 IST | Hemal Ashar

As crores ride on sevent edition of the Indian Premiere League, the game's lexicon has changed. Hemal Ashar hails the new game of hunters and punters and finds out what IPL now stands for

As new skeletons rattle wildly in cricket’s closet, the auction for Indian Premiere league (IPL)-VII has gone off with a few ripples. If truth be told (sold) we think little will come out of the Mudgal Commission’s latest report but then all these self-righteous experts claim that we must not resort to speculation.

Illustration/ Amit Bandre

Well, in that case we can just wait for that great day when names of capped and uncapped players are to be revealed. Meanwhile, we live in a world of taped conversations and tapped phone calls, underworld dons and strange collusions and we conclude that today, cricket makes strange betfellows. A whole new con game needs a new way of looking. Crores instead of scores, bet instead of bat, and sold instead of bowled. The new IPL stands for...

N Srinivasan, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, chose to stay mum even after the finger went up against his son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan

I: Investigation, the word, has become simply another excuse for delaying tactics and sweeping-it-under-the-carpet sweep shots. Investigations into T20:20-murky-deals-aplenty-league, are not like a 20:20 contest which has a definite end. A bit like a Test that meanders to a dull draw. Yaani ki wait till all goes thanda, and continue the betting dhandha.

N: N Srinivasan, the big daddy of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, (BCCI) says nothing even after the finger goes up against son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan in the latest report. When the small-time punter sees bigwigs walk free in betting scandals, he thinks to himself; Srini’s-son-in-law karein toh only khel aur mein karoon toh go to jail?

Of late, Dawood Ibrahim’s name has also cropped up in the match-fixing scam

D: Dawood Ibrahim or Don. His name crops up in mysterious and shadowy ways all through. In a more innocent age, one knew a Don in cricket as Don Bradman, today the Don is Dawood. Telephone conversations, tapped phone lines, henchmen...  do the bhaigiri, Gangnam style.

I: Intrigue it is when Mintu alias something, and Tintu alias somebody else, bookies with such names rule. And we have not even come to the honey traps whose vital statistics are not part of Wisden, the cricket followers’ Bible. And trapping in cricket was about trapping the batsman (LBW). Stoooopid cupid made you fall in love with cricket.

Gurunath Meiyappan

A: An auction conducted recently commanded huge sums for IPL-VII. Crores seemed to be the score, with the ‘boys’, like commentators call them, being bought ‘n’ sold in the great cricket market. What did we say about off-the-field a(u)ction? Certainly more interesting than on-field.

N: Names are the newbuzzword here and who cares about the game. Some names or the others are always ‘leaked’ (hush hush) selectively and others are part of speculation. Then, some experts will say solemnly: cannot reveal names without solid evidence. Inevitably, these names will be forgotten till yet another scandal bursts upon us like a fiery bouncer.

P: Probe is what the police usually do and these seem omnipresent today. From committees, commissions, experts and journalists, everybody seems to be involved in cricket muck probing these days. And you thought only bowlers were probing line and length.

R: Rate stands for the prices at which cricketers are being bought these days. And don’t fall for all those wailing about a crisis of credibility for cricket today. The only crisis some have is where to stash all the money they are making from the IPL. Page 3 is about ‘muah muah’ while cricket is about ‘moolah moolah’.

E: Escape routes are being charted even as the bat meets the ball. When things get murky-murky and way too difficult to get shirky-shirky, escape is all one can think of from dark deeds. Players today factor in fleeing and escaping from unknown enemies and under-worldly dangers. Yeh under-world ki
baat hai.

M: Mahendra Singh Dhoni aka Mahi, the Indian captain, who earned plenty of epithets like ‘Captain Cool’, ‘That’s the way Mahi Re’, is now under a cloud with some saying his name has cropped up with regards to fixing. We hear the beleaguered skipper is not saying anything now but dhama dham Mahi needs to clear the air like he clears the rope in games.

I: Information is what is being bandied about these days. Information about what the Commission has said, who leaked out what information to the bookies, what information were the judges looking for… an information mania seems to have gripped this game as cricket goes on its wicket, wicked ways.

E: Evidence, part of the sleuthing lexicon, is now more a part of cricket speak more than overthrows or cheeky singles. From bare-all starlets promising evidence of shady goings on in bedrooms and boardrooms, to arrested bookies giving some ‘evidence’, the proof of the cricket pudding is in the betting.

R: Radar. On the radar seems to be yet another phrase that has overtaken the ‘cricket, a game of glorious uncertainties’. Somebody or the other seems to be on the radar these days. Owners, officials and umpires even, in connection with some shadowy goings on. Jhapaak, fixing, fixing fixing, gillli, gilli yaaaa…

L: Lawyers are in cricket business these days as almost everyone seems to have lawyered up. Big wig lawyers now have cricketers and team owners as clients. Sue silly, we are to think they will talk. Talk to my lawyer is all they say. Don’t like what you are reading? Talk to my lawyer.

E: Envelope. We hear there is a ‘sealed’ envelope containing names of six players which could lead further ‘revelations’. One is tempted to sing… chitthi aayi, aayi hai, aayi hai… like they did in the old Hindi movie days to the authority, which is supposed to gasp, open this envelope.

A: Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, along with maverick S Sreesanth, found themselves behind not-so-intoxicating bars the last time around in the betting scandal. First, it was stumped! Off with the bails, today, it may be off to jails.

G: Gurunath Meiyappan, BCCI honcho Srini’s son-in-law, has been called owner and chief principal of Chennai Super Kings by the Mudgal Commission. These Guru’s teachings are not to be followed by one ‘n’ all, let us safely assume. Meanwhile appan, chappan Meiyappan…today we sing.

U: Underworld is not so much a dirty word but an operative word in cricket these days. Catch dropped? Blame it on the underworld. Spectators? The underworld is in disguise sitting there. Batsman bowled? Maybe, told by the underworld. Underworld rules, bas kya?

E: Enthusiast, they said he was. Gurunath Meiyappan was earlier dubbed simply an enthusiast by Srini & Co when his name cropped up in the fixing scandal. Today, enthusiast has turned into de-facto owner. Nothing is what it seems these days. For cricket fans, the truth has gone with the Vindoo, oops wind, we mean.

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