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Gentleman's game no more

By Irfan Yusuf - posted Monday, 19 May 2008

Back in the 1970s when I was young and innocent, cricket was a more sedate game. Okay, the Windies had five super bowlers who could make the ball travel faster than a speeding bullet. Then there was Clive Lloyd's one-tonne bat which could deliver a cover drive more powerful than a locomotive.

New Zealand had its supermen as well. I'll never forget being part of an SCG crowd that greeted Sir Richard Hadlee with the most knightly chant of "Hadlee's a w**ker".

Some cheeky bugger made a fortune selling stickers with that message at the SCG entrances for a dollar each. And who could forget that final over in a one-dayer when Lance Cairns used that weird-shaped bat to hit four sixes and two fours?


But these days, an over like that represents a disappointment in the Indian Premier League's Twenty20 competition. A decade ago, a run-rate of 5.5 per over in a 50-over game was almost unbeatable (unless, of course, you were an Aussie side facing Kiwi bowlers. Um, I think I may have hit a raw spot. I guess the truth hurts. Moving right along now).

But in India's Twenty20 competition, batsmen are almost expected to score at least 5.5 runs every second ball. I'm glad there aren't any Kiwi commentators. Can you imagine poor Sir Hadlee having to tell us every second ball: "He's hut ut for sex!"?

This is unashamedly a batsman's game designed for crowds who want to catch the ball more often than the fielders. And that's when they (at least the blokes) aren't staring at the young female cheerleaders.

And did you ever notice how all the cheerleaders are Anglo-Europeans?

Not a single Bollywood queen amongst them, despite the fact that Bollywood actresses dance in outfits that aren't exactly 10 degrees of lesser lewdness than the white Twenty20 cheerchicks.

Us south Asians are funny in that way. Sure, dancing semi-naked on the big screen may only be barely appropriate (pun intended) for good respectable Indian girls. But no self-respecting Indian woman would be caught dead strutting her naked curves before a packed stadium of cricket fans inebriated on Tiger beer and tiny bidi cigarettes. That dishonour is reserved for the gori mem (white mistress).


The team names are also a delight. Seriously, did the IPL send someone on a study tour of Australia's Rugby League competition?

Sure, names like the Sydney Bulldogs and Penrith Panthers might make sense in a game where violence is virtue. But cricket must surely cease to be a gentleman's game when it involves the Delhi Daredevils and the Kolkata Knight Riders.

One thing the IPL didn't borrow from the ARL is salary cap rules for players. The Indian crowds might call him a monkey, but I'm sure Andrew Symonds will forgive them after being paid a whopping US$1.35 million ($1.76 million) to play for the Hyderabad team known as the Deccan Chargers.

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Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney lawyer who left Karachi at age five months. His top score is 17 runs for the St Andrews under-14s. First published in The New Zealand Herald on May 13, 2008.

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About the Author

Irfan Yusuf is a New South Wales-based lawyer with a practice focusing on workplace relations and commercial dispute resolution. Irfan is also a regular media commentator on a variety of social, political, human rights, media and cultural issues. Irfan Yusuf's book, Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-Fascist, was published in May 2009 by Allen & Unwin.

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