Posted by: rajeshkannan | April 14, 2010

The IPL Unexplained 5

The Loyalty Paradigm

I have seen rugby league games between St Helens and Leeds without a shred of affinity for either team or, for that matter, the sport itself (Union is another matter). And ten minutes into the game, I’d pick a horse, and by the twentieth minute, I’d have an emotional stake in it. I understand it’d be easier to just bet on the outcome and root for your bank account, but my way is cheaper.

The IPL, though, introduces a new loyalty paradigm in me. Sure, football has always had club v country loyalty, and sure, I’ve rooted for Paul Scholes AND against him, depending on which format he played in. But I have never lived in England – save for two dark, wintry months in 2005 – and my affinities are hardly rooted.

The IPL changes that, and this, I believe, is the power of this tournament. Just for background, I hail from Delhi, though the only piece of daredevilry I did there was hang on for dear life as a pillion rider. I love the city, with all its warts and the occasional micrometre thin piece of clear skin between the warts. I love it passionately, and despite having lived away from it for the better part of my life, I unhesitatingly call myself a Delhiite.

I also love Sachin Tendulkar. I think sliced bread looks upon him enviously, and since I saw a mop haired kid buccaneer his way in the Irani Trophy in 1988, I’ve loved him. I  believe that the Mayan apocalypse predictions for 2012 were based around the fact that Sachin will probably retire in that year, though we might have to consult Roland Emmerich on that one.

So, when the Delhi Daredevils meet the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, it spells trouble for me. My gut decided that Leeds was the way to go in the rugby league game, but in this case, I guess there’s information – no, passion – overload. First, though, it necessitates that I care at all about the IPL. And after two seasons of not caring too much, I will confess that I am finally hooked. I don’t know why, but call me one of Lalit Modi’s sheeple.

Today was an interesting example of this dichotomy. When Mumbai batted first against Delhi, Sachin was on his way to weaving another of his crafted six-less masterpieces. (As a sidenote, I fully believe that he’s exploding this year purely to show everyone that he can annihilate you in yet another format, and once he’s done doing that, he’ll settle down next year.)

But going back to the story, Sachin was on 30 sculpted runs, and Mumbai were on their way. My gut was getting mixed signals throughout. When he fell, I thought to myself – here’s a great way of gauging how I REALLY feel  – and, lo and behold, my gut short-circuited. I truly didn’t know how to feel when Sachin fell, and trust me, that’s a feeling I’d have never EVER thought I’d feel.

The lesser lesson to be learnt from this is that the greatest threat to the IPL and it’s city based loyalty paradigm is one short man – because, doubtless, most Indians feel as I do about Sachin.

But there is a greater lesson to be learnt – that the IPL is a viable format, if they base a sporting format’s viability on one man’s experience (I’d like to shut down the PGA tour if that’s the case). I have not lived in Delhi since 1996. Yet I root for its team, on TV, and I have no qualms about cheering Dave Warner’s sixers off Zaheer Khan. If they can make me, a Test cricket loving expatriate, do that, they might just be on the right track.



  1. Wonderful stuff. Rajesh. Thoroughly enjoyed your insights.

    Loyalties have yet to develop with me but seeing Ryan Harris, Gilly, Roy and Mitch Marsh all playing together makes the boys in dirty blue easy to like. Their last couple of wins have been full of grit and character.

    I was asked for a tip at the start of the tournament and went for Mumbai and so far I’m appearing rather sagely but I only backed them because of Sachin and Pollard.

    The wheels look like they are falling off at Delhi, Bangalore appear shabby, Warne cannot do it on his own at the Royals, Ganguly thinks his team are rubbish, Chennai seem to be turning their bad form around, and the less said about Punjab the better.

    With the teams personnel being shuffled and shared next year it makes it very hard to feel any emotional attachment to any team but at the moment I’m leaning towards Deccan. Although, if Sachin or Haydos & Dougie can win I’ll be just as happy.

    On a side note did anyone see Raina try and pull Bollinger’s toupee off last night?

  2. Great stuff! I’ve been a Mumbaikar all my life so there’s no questioning my loyalties…!

    The merry go round is the main problem I see with the IPL as well. If the players are going to be shuffled around, there’s hardly any point in supporting the teams. I really don’t see why the players have to be shuffled either, if it were not for the 2 new teams.

    I mean, the transfer window works fine to ensure players go where they want. But the two new teams have messed up the equation. I wonder if the quality of the competition will drop a couple of notches with the inevitable dilution of talent. The Champions league seems to be destined to be a permanent fixture and there really is no point to organizing it if the IPL teams don’t make it to the final, at the very least. Which they won’t if there aren’t enough good Indian players.

    I saw Raina giving the hairpiece an mighty tug that had poor Dougie bending over backwards to prevent him succeeding! Hilarious..! Wonder why no one thought of it before, like the aussie national team for example. Maybe Dougie’s face after the incident has something to do with it..:)

  3. I don’t think the IPL is up there with the best leagues but I never had a problem of loyalty. I’ve been rooting for the Daredevils from the first season and it doesn’t matter if it’s Tendulkar, Gilchrist or anyone else up against them. I’ll choose what’s best for Delhi every time.

    I find it surprising that people would root for Tendulkar even when he’s playing against their side, but maybe it’s because I follow too many team sports and have a favourite in all of them. It could also be because I’ve always felt strongly against Indians being obsessed with individuals instead of the team.

    • Why would you find it surprising? Let me rephrase this loyalty in another way – 21 years of Tendulkar devotion vs 2 years of following (mark you, no devotion) Delhi Daredevils. Yes, I know it’s my city my sense of identity is also very very Tendulkar-influenced.

  4. Great piece, RK.

    I will always root for Deccan Chargers as I consider myself a Hyderabadi, though I lived for a few years each in Mumbai and Blr.My wife supports Bangalore though, as she hails from that city.

    My loyalties towards other sides depend on the players – I admire and respect Kumble and Dravid and so, have a soft corner for RCB, except when they are playing Deccan.

    I want Viru to do well (and McGrath when he played for DD) but otherwise not unhappy when they lose.And I like Irfan Pathan, Mahela and Sanga in Kings X1, but have no soft corner for Yuvi and Sreesanth. I want Chennai to reach the finals because of Dhoni, but hope they lose against Deccan :)

    And that leaves me with Sachin.What do I say? I am like you RK, and we both know millions of Indians feel the same way.Sachin makes me go beyond my city loyalties quite effortlessly.

    My 5-year old daughter Lasya has a simpler approach though. We have a conversation roughly on the following lines, every day, during the IPL:

    Lasya: Who’s playing today?
    Me: Chennai and Kolkata
    Lasya: Is Sachin mama playing for any one?
    Me:No, he always plays for Bombay.
    Lasya:Who’s playing then?
    Me:Dhoni uncle for Chennai, the ones in Yellow
    Lasya: Ok, then I support Chennai for today.You support Kolkata, OK?

  5. RK,

    I was on vacation in Chennai last week and managed to go to the CSK Vs MI game and believe me the whole of MAC stadium was confused who to support when SRT was on. When SRT left due to exhaustion, the whole stadium was wholeheartedly supporting CSK and the enrgy was just unbelievable. However, when he came back after the 7th wicket, you could sense the drop in energy with the people in two minds as to whether to support CSK or SRT. Once SRT was out, it was an easy decision though! :-)

  6. Great post RK! For what it’s worth, here’s a perspective from someone who’s city doesn’t have a franchise.

    I’m an expatriate Nagpurian, so I really don’t have a dog in the race (except for the big dog Sachin, of course). This year there are a handful of players from Nagpur playing in different teams, so occasionally I might support Rajasthan (when Faiz Fazal or Amit Paunikar are playing) or Delhi (Umesh Yadav), but by and large I’m as neutral as Nesta and others here.

    Like others have pointed out, I support different teams on different days. Sympathies lie to a certain extent with Deccan (I speak Telugu, plus Gilly plays for them). Sometimes I want Bangalore to do well because of Dravid, Pandey and Steyn. Kolkata gets my support sometimes if Dada or Gayle are out there. Chennai for Dhoni/Raina, Delhi for Viru/Gambhir… get the picture.

    I think overall, I’m supporting Mumbai just that extra bit this year. Its easy to support a side that is stronger and more well-balanced than any of the others.

    Plus, need I mention Sachin again?

  7. YOuu are far more of a hold out than I ever could be, Rajesh. I was curious from the beginning, and the very first game back in 2008 found me watching Rudi Koertzen umpiring in a white cowboy hat. For reasons I cannot explain I suddenly found Rudi strangely attractive, something no Australian could possibly be comfortable about, but such was the power of the whole shebang!

    Since then, like Nesta, I ‘ve been hooked by the diversity of the thing. I still haven’t come to team loyalty yet, though, I am stuck on certain players, and not all of them AU, I hasten to add.

    The timing of the IPL means that I was once cricketed out by the AU summer season, but no more. I just love it, loved it in South Africa as much as I love watching it on TV from India.

    I though the real stars of the show in the first season were the Indian spectators, elegant and keen eyed grandma’s , wide eyed children, utterly comitted cricket fans all, but I saw the same among the SA fans, too.

    That low whisper you hear ghosting out from Sydney is me, calling ‘Warneeee Warnee’ in the dark midnight hours.

  8. Toots, I was enthralled by your Venetian analogy , I didn’t have time to write it to you. It was wonderful. Just down from the Venetian in Macau is James Packer’s casino venture, gaggingly called ‘City of Dreams’. James is a cricket loather, unlike his father, Kerry, and it must make Kerry Packer turn in his grave to see his money going on casino’s when it could have been James instead of Modi. Kerry would have sprung this 20/20 lark!

    I reckon the IPL will last a bit longer than James’ little mint there in Macau.

    • Pepp – Thanks.

      We did go across to the gaggingly named one (perfect adverb), but I didn’t know it was Packer Jnr’s. I suppose Kerry Packer was a bit of a monster, but what I’ve read about him shows that he was straight, backed his bets to the hilt and was very loyal to the men who risked everything to throw their lots in with his (especially Big Clive’s lads). He was a cricket man too – though he liked the tables and stacked his chips high. Yep – I think his son would have the T20 goldmine had he his father’s chutzpah.

    • Pepp, I could not possibly agree more. Toots’s analogy was one of those things you read which makes up for all the petabytes of bullshit on the internet.

  9. For me, the IPL is mainly about the Champions League. I can’t think of sporting moment that has made me more chuffed than when NSW won last year. It was an outsandingly performance by the Blues, especially in the field. I was on cloud nine for a good few weeks.

    So watching the IPL is mainly, but not solely, about seeing how the Australians go. That may be short sighted but I find it hard to do otherwise. And hence there are slim but not insubstantial pickings watching the IPL. Cricket to me has always been a sport between nations and states. For people growing up now with the IPL (and similar franchise based tournaments should they arise) I wonder if it will be different. Interesting times.

    • They were something else in the field, they really were. The Bushrangers were pretty good, but the Blues were out of this world at times.

      Anyway, I have been with Deccan since game one, IPL one. While I’ll always love Gilly best, I am becoming very fond of Harmeet Singh, Rohit Sharma and Suman.

      If we ever manage to produce a spin bowler of the calibre of Ohja in the future, I’ll be in heaven. The Indians are sick with them, they have so many good spin bowlers, they don’t know what to do with them all.

      And the Deccans are really charging, they have, have, have to beat Delhi or I’ll spew.

      • I don’t have to spew. Go Chargers, Go Chargers, Go, Go, Go, Go.

        What is going on with Deccan? Mitchell Marsh is even opening the bowling now. What next? Will Gilly sit out and let him open the batting? It’s very confusing.

        Chaminda Vaas bowled a dream last over that made all the horrors of death overs past from Deccan just vanish from my mind.

  10. I’m disappointed that NSW did not get automatic entry into the Champions League this year so they could defend their title. I think that should be part of the overall prize for winning.

    Originally hailing from Balmain I found no problem and even felt some pride in supporting Kat and the boys but Victoria is a whole different kettle of fish. I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than support the Mexicans!

    So with no other option I’ll be on the Redbacks sans Pollard (on current form he’ll be with Mumbai or Trinidad). A rather benign option admittedly but at least I’ll have a skerrick of emotional attachment.

  11. Rajesh – I wondered how the loyalties are developing in such a new competition, so it was good to have this post.

    Being a fan is an interesting experience. I can’t countenance my kids being anything other than Everton fans (though they are pulled by the glamour of MUFC) but I hope they become Surrey fans as they go to The Oval with me. I’ll always be Lancashire, but I’m forming a kind of affinity with the hard-to-like South London team. I haven’t seen enough IPL to become attached to one team, but I am following the players I like – but there are so many, I seem to have two teams to support in every match

  12. Fred, and to all the others who were interested in
    THE FLOOD’…..

    a gallery of pictures here.

    Get a load of the Simpson Desert GREEN!!!…


    Is my excitement showing?? too much?? *twirl*….

    • Isn’t it a grand sight?

      Ever since you posted that vid, I’ve been reading the Age water pages and following the stories.


  14. Truly amazing stuff Pepp – even more than our clear blue skies.

  15. All’s well that ends well.

    Some tense moments last night, but we charged through Delhi. Go Chargers !

    On paper, we have a retired legend who has not found form this season, a blow hot n blow cold Gibbs, a steady Symmo, and a bunch of talented yet not very mature local youngsters. Gilly has made the best of the talent at his disposal. Cool ! this is what I want from any of my teams !

    • Symonds said in his MOTM acceptance speech that they all have a go which is what he wants from a team.

      They certainly aren’t glamorous but they are a very cuddly team.

    • Kumar, it took them more than half the season to go back to Suman batting at the top of the order. They did well when he batted there last season too but for some reason he didn’t bat there for the better part of this one. Once he moved up they had a batsman who could score quickly without taking a lot of risks. I hope Gilchrist comes good in the final if they make it that far. I’d hate to see Mumbai win the whole thing.

  16. l don;t follow the IPL at all, not a ball, for aforementioned reasons regarding personal taste and interest.

    But this is obviously big news? What is the story here?

  17. Japal,

    Yes, this is big, but predictable news.

    IMO, no one in the Indian political circles expected the IPL to be such a huge money spinner. But the business circles knew it and they backed Modi to make it happen.

    Sharad Pawar, soon-to-be ICC president and a Union Minister, is one of the few contenders for the PM’s job, based on how the poll results come out. And through Modi, he has control of the biggest branding vehicle and money spinner (money laundering machine as well) in the country. We have a prince in waiting in India.Steps are being taken to cut any potential threat to the throne to size.

    Shashi Tharoor’s failed attempt to outsmart Modi has just acted as the catalyst to make the entire Govt machinery gun for Modi’s exit and thereby weaken Pawar considerably. The earlier fracas around Pakistani players’ exclusion was just a one-shot-to-kill-two-birds kind of maneuvre which did nothing to impact the Pawar-Modi team.

    Now, Pawar, inspite of the support being extended by the opposition party BJP, seems to have decided to cut his losses and make a compromise with 10, Janpath by dumping Modi.However, Modi won’t go down without a fight.He has too many recorded conversations and SMSes, and the business men behind IPL are also getting a bit queasy about the mess.

    Mukesh Ambani of the Mumbai Indians can broker a deal if he thinks the price paid (for disbanding IPL) will be too high.Looks like the business men and BCCI will strike a deal to: a)Protect the image of Indian cricket; b) Allow the spoils of IPL to be redistributed a little towards Congress’ kitty and c)Modi to be made a scapegoat.

    The key players who will negotiate a deal on behalf of the major stakeholders: Pranab Mukherjee and Ahmed Patel on behalf of Congress/UPA, Sharad Pawar, and a few businessmen like Ambani.

    The above is my personal reading of the situation.If you are not interested in specifics, then the short summary:

    IPL= money and branding = power and winnability of elections – resulting in a squabbling between politicians.Modi’s rise and downfall has all been scripted by the politicians’ advisers.

  18. Thanks Kumar, much appreciated. Intrigue abounds! Is Modi as innocent a ‘scapegoat’ as all that? l ask honestly, l really have no idea about the power politics of it all.

    • I read a very interesting prempanicker blog about it, I don’t understand it necessarily, but it is a top notch description of sport + money + politics murkiness.

  19. Japal,

    I don’t mean to say Modi is innocent.But he will be forced to take the blame for what went wrong, so that others can continue to reap the harvest of riches.One thing is sure – Modi did not act alone.The BCCI was behind him solidly all these days- allowing him to run IPL like of those Venetian casinos that Toots spoke of :)

  20. Anything that goes from zero to that level of money so quickly will have some murkiness there. I await developments, but I never thought I would feel sorry for Lalit Modi!

  21. I’ve no interest or understanding whatsoever in the politics of the IPL but what I do know is that Mumbai looked very strong in all aspects during last night’s semi. They’ll be very difficult to beat and hopefully, Gilly and Roy will be in the final too.

    On another note, is it true that Brian Lara will be donning the pads this English T20 summer? I heard that he’ll be joining Surrey with Roy. The fans at The Oval will be in for some thrilling cricket with those two at the crease. Lucky Bastards!!

    • I’m crossing my fingers that Lara has still got it. It will be really horrible if he hasn’t. He was one of the real glamour players for me.

  22. Nesta – not sure anything is confirmed yet, but I have my membership card, so I’ll be one of the lucky ones!

  23. oh the semi last night tore my heart in two… I so wanted Roy and Gilly and Ryan to win and I wanted Bollinger and Hayden and Morkel to win…

    This IPL is VERY HARD on the HEART.

    Dougie is terrifying in the very best of ways… hehe..

  24. God its been ages. Is cricket ever going to start again?

  25. When I put 99.94 into google, the second link is ‘Divorce papers served online only $99.94’.

    Ha, ha, ha.

  26. Citi moment of success!! Lalit hit for a DLF Maximum

  27. oh.. fabulous bowling by the incomparable Aamer against Au.

    take a gig at this…

  28. AU won the match… 11th in a row?? something like that.. this young bloke is so terrific, never takes his mind off the matter in hand, he is simply super terrible. I just adore him.

  29. Tait and Nannes… marvellous..

  30. and Jessica is hauling up around South East Cape of Tassie early today, Nesta.. I’ll be hoping to spot Pink Lady off the coast near Kiama this week, fair south westerly winds and unlumpy seas expected for the last wild run around Point Hicks.

  31. just watching Kevin Pietersen bang a six… Eng v WI oh dear.. oh dear.. he did it again and it went straight to the fielder. Very nice catch. .. poor Kev… oh well.

  32. Friends,
    I tumbled across this site, has anyone else heard about it. They have a full fledged fantasy cricket game and good prizes ( a free air-ticket). Its worth checking out.

  33. As an Australian living in Ireland I cannot see how anyone without an affinity to a particular Indian city could possibly support any team other then KKR!

  34. So Australia score only 6 4s but 16 6s against India. How small is this ground?

    • Really small, some of the boundaries were around 65 metres. Bit of a joke, hey? But it makes the bowling of our two openers even better as the faster you bowl, the faster it can go over the fence.

  35. Just an FYI for the anoraks out there – after a really terrible performance once again, there’s probably no hope for India. But there’s a silver lining – provided Aus beats WI in their final match, and that’s a big if considering Aus are through and WI are at home and are so mercurial – India know exactly what they need to do.

    By my calculations, if India bat first, they must beat Lanka by 20 runs. If they field first, they must reach the target (whatever target Lanka sets is immaterial) in a maximum of 17.3 overs. I’m sure they know this as well – so there is still some hope for the Indians, though not more than a snowball’s chance in hell.

    • RK,

      I don’t think India has ever qualified for any tournament braving such odds.

      Pakistan, however, has made this into an art form. They needed England to deliver twice, and Eng did it ! And now, Pak is through to the Semis :)

  36. As a fully registered anorak, and you know, in Australia that’s Drizabone, that silver lining has evaporated with SriLanka’s excellent stuff, despite India knowing exactly and precisely what was needed, and it’s a mystery as to why it wasn’t delivered.

    AU took on the WI and it was a slaughter, despite all the frail hopes of the St.Lucia ground being able to halt Australia’s juggernaut from proceeding with all it’s precision and enthusiasm, which means now that England face SriLanka and AU face Pakistan.

    A more hideous scenario could not possibly be envisaged by Pakistan, there is no wins against Australia for and entire summer just passed, or in the tournament so far that Pakistan can look back on and take heart from.

    Of course, T20 is a lottery in many ways, and nothing is impossible, Au batting could collapse, Au bowlers could whiffle and chuck and miss those three stumps, and Au fielding could suddenly and without reason become ordinary. Possible, but improbable.

    • Batting and bowling might fall apart, but the fielding? Never.

      The fielding from the Aussies has been quite superlative. The quickness of judgement and the positioning of the outfielders under skiers is making very difficult catches look like a piece of piss. Though even by Aussie standards, Dussey’s catch off Chanderpaul was a blinder.

      The best thing about 20/20 is the fielding as some of the batting is so ugly it is almost unbearable.

      It’s been quite funny listening to some of the English commentators and reading someone like Agnew as they are behaving as though England have invented good fielding newly minted for this tournament.

      I suppose Sri Lanka, SA and Aus have a lot to learn.

  37. SriLanka has always been the better team, in my opinion, and it’s one that Au never, ever takes lightly in whatever format, and should it be an AU SRILANKA final, it will be a grim and unforgiving event. I honestly don’t see England rising to this challenge, but ..

  38. Now that India is gone, I want SL to win this T20 world cup.

    I also want AU to thrash Pakistan.

    The first wish is possible.The second wish will most likely be granted.


  39. Blimey.

  40. what an incredible game this AU v Pak game was.

    Never , ever give up, Oz.

  41. Oh my freaking god. We always suspected it, but it’s confirmed – homo australius is an entirely different species of humanity.

    • It is Rajesh – it really is.

  42. The Hussey paradigm. Biff, Whop, Zap!

    I hope some of the others up front help him out a bit more in the next game. He’s a little tired now.

    His speech was very sweet, what all 10 year olds think in back yard cricket, that they are hitting the winning runs for some big match in some big tournament for their country.

    All though the Indian kids might be thinking more along the lines of IPL I guess.

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