Despite this post’s header, I’m sure Nesta will forgive The Trumpet’s cheek and continue “The IPL Unexplained” through to its season finale.
The Trumpet spent the day in Macao, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong, in a culture that would make Mr Modi feel very much at home. Whilst Macao respects its past, it is charging forward to a future based on the spending power of a billion or so people eager to embrace a new order of mass instant communication, growing political freedoms and more money than their parents could ever imagine – in Macao’s case, they are Chinese rather than Indian, but the point holds.
The inspiration for this post came to The Trumpet in The Venetian Macao, a vast development based on gambling, retailing and tourism. The complex has two layers of artifice: (i) it is an uncannily exact replica of its Las Vegas “original”; (ii) the Las Vegas “original” is a partial simulacrum of the Italian city state. (All three “Venices” offer gondolas and gondoliers on real canals, a St Mark’s Square and the veneer of Renaissance architecture – though a guaranteed blue and pigeon-free “sky” is only present in the hotels as their ceilings are painted thus).
But here’s the rub. Nobody is fooled into thinking that either of the “Venetians” are in any sense really Venetian, for that is not the intention. Us punters enjoy the conceit, the showmanship, the sheer balls required to conceive and execute these absurdities on this scale. As “O Sole Mio” floats across from a black and white stripy T-shirt in a funny looking boat, you smile and let it all wash over you.
And isn’t this the best way to explain the IPL? It is two steps removed from its original and ancient parent (First Class cricket) and one step removed from a now ageing upstart (One-Day cricket). The IPL also represents an intensified simulacrum of its beautiful and fragile inspiration. But nobody believes it is the real thing – it’s a fake, but it has value despite and because of that. Once the cricket fan accepts Modi’s familiar but unfamiliar world, the gaudiness, the showmanship and the bad taste doesn’t seem so bad – it’s just there, it’s fun and it neither hurts nor helps the original because it’s simply too artificial, too distant, too different.
Venice, like Test cricket, has been sinking for decades, yet it’s still there, still wondrous to its cognoscenti and still able to impress its most sceptical critics. Both need careful, sympathetic leadership and may not get it, but, just maybe, Test cricket and Venice can bumble along all the way to the 22nd century, by which time their pastiches will be replaced by developments possibly too hideous to imagine! It’s certainly happened before.