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Hush, it’s the ICC T20

india Updated: May 04, 2010 01:07 IST
Indrajit Hazra

Imagine Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Take-Your-Pick-Leading-Lady in a film made not by lowest common denominatrix Karan Johar or even popular-yet-edgy Anurag Kashyap.

Imagine, instead, these actors in a film by a Scandinavian filmmaker who wants to tone things down from Bollywood's over-the-topness but at the same time who wants to catch SRK, Big B and Svelte Doll fans so that his film can be a box office success across the world. Sooner rather than later we'll realise that the film, despite having the same superstars who are in Bollywood movies, will be significantly different -- minus the qualities of a super-hit movie because, well, the paraphernalia of a super-hit movie (over-the-topness, the glitz and the glam, etc) has been left out by choice.

The ICC World T20 World Cup in West Indies is a bit like that. It has pretty much the same roster of characters on the field (Dhoni and many cricketers whose names we don't need to remember), it's the same Twenty20 format of the game of cricket. And yet, it's pretty clear that even a cricket pleb who keenly watches and cheers on Harsh Bhogle's hair growing will be unable to be enthused enough about a match, never mind even if India's playing and winning.

Okay, so Saturday's match against the Afghans was about women gawking at Pashtuns swinging their bats in the Caribbeans and some men seeing a foreign policy metaphor being played out on a St Lucian field. But the tone and tenor were supposed to have swung into the 'enthusiastic' zone on Sunday when India was playing the South Africans. It's not as if Jacques Kallis and his chums aren't nice-looking blokes. Neither is it true that a Twenty20 tournament between countries will elicit less bugle blasts and cheers from the stands than if it was between some shell company's team against some other front's franchise.

The fact is that as I was following South African skipper Graeme Smith walking back to the dressing room after being run out, I realised that no matter how many Indian flags were fluttering in St Lucia, it was all a bit humdrum-bum.

Don't get me wrong.

The quality of Twenty20 cricket was as good as it gets.

It was delightful to watch the never-Test-playing Suresh Raina savage the South African bowling to notch up the third century in T20 history. But minus the razzmatazz, the Mexican trumpet blares and, yes, the infectious vulgarity of IPL, it was as if it was a game in the park with tea and sandwiches being served in the stands and people reading E.M. Forster in between key overs.

Twenty20 cricket is tailor-made for loudness and being raucous and getting the aunties and the pre-clubbing girls in the mood. That is the nature of the beast. Celebrating India's victory over South Africa on Sunday seemed a bit like celebrating Diwali with the spirit of Gandhi Jayanti.

Perhaps it's just that West Indies isn't as friendly towards Twenty20 cricket as the old Calypso hands would have imagined.

Perhaps the whole point in having the T20 World Cup in West Indies is to bring some of that ole swing back in the land of Viv and rum. Perhaps it's because the matches are being played under unnatural-for-T20 sunlight (to ensure we here in the centre of the universe make prime-time viewing of them), as opposed to 40 overs played under wonderfully bright nightlights.

I don't know. All I know is that when India won their second match in the tournament against the South Africans on Sunday in the T20 World Cup, I was instinctively checking when the next Delhi Daredevils vs Mumbai Indians or Kolkata Knight Riders match would be played.