When Kieron Pollard hit his first six (an 87-metre-six, no less) in the 18th over of the Mumbai Indians’ innings against the Royal Challengers on Wednesday night, we were promptly informed on TV - informed with the breathless, exultant, self-congratulatory glee with which stats in IPL are imparted to viewers - that this was the 556th six of the tournament.
Golly. What better way to measure the success of what purports to be a cricket tournament?
In delight, the plutocrats in attendance were clapping their hands raw.
They couldn’t have enough of it.
Having seen Pollard and Saurabh Tiwary play Dale Steyn in the IPL, I’d really like to see them face him in a game of cricket. It’s all very well for some of us to say that bowling in T20 deserves a different set of skills and a yorker at 145kmph is a yorker at 145kmph and that’s that, but, come, come, we shouldn’t delude ourselves. We are all adults, aren’t we? Or so we like to believe.
It’s not so much that the bowlers are at an awful disadvantage. It’s as though they are serfs working for the entertainment of the nobles - which is to say, the entertainment of the puerile public that so adores this game.
When I was a small boy, I never wanted to bowl. The allure of batting was unrivalled. I’ve had friends who’d cry and stalk off in a huff if they hadn’t been given a chance to bat. Bowling was a donkey’s job. Someone had to do it, just so the others could bat. You couldn’t bat unless there was a bowler, could you? Most children tend to be like that.
The IPL reflects precisely this priority. It is an infantilised sport; it is shorn of the maturity that ought to appeal to adults. Ought to… Well, onwards…
(This occasional column will appear through the IPL)