Monday, April 06, 2009

Guest Blog: The “South African” Indian Premier League!

While you try to wrap your head around that - Lalit Modi is crouched over a table in a dark room, smoking his 2nd pack for the day, his top shirt button undone, tie loosened, punching his calculator trying to figure out how much money he will make, or loose, in IPL round 2.

Only the course of time will tell if the move will prove to be an in genius idea on the part of Lalit Modi or whether it was just another way to make a quick buck because he couldn't wait around for 2 more weeks till India’s general elections passed. It was perhaps in his haste that he scheduled matches at 12.30 and 4.30pm South Africa time. If the idea in bringing the IPL to SA was to generate some interest there then Modi doesn't seem to have followed through. In these times of economic strife, one wonders how many people can afford to take a day off work to make it to a match at either of these times.

Of course the Indian fans will be happy which might have been Modis ultimate goal in any case. Can South Africa’s meager numbers even compare to the billion eye ball worth market he can please. At prime time no less. This would no doubt mean the Indians will have plenty of time to hit the PCs and join in some Fantasy cricket fun. I mean with no matches to go to how else they are going to enjoy the full IPL experience.

Well enough about the politics of it. Let’s talk about the cricket. If you are thinking about engaging in some IPL Fantasy cricket, you might want to think carefully about the kind of players you are picking. If you are thinking about budgeting for the traditional power houses - Jayasuriya, Sehwag, Yuvraj and the like you might want to think again. While these players were massive hits in India in 2008, their records in SA are paltry when compared to their careers. Most sub continental batsmen struggle in SA so you will need to be wise in who you go for. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any good Asian players to pick from.

You can’t go wrong with Kumar Sangakkara, who thrives on all conditions or Sachin Tendulkar, who is looking sublime in NZ at the moment. But if you really want to hit the big times, invest in Southern Hemisphere teams. The Australians, South Africans and Kiwis will probably be stars at this year’s IPL because they are used to the conditions and play most of their cricket on similar wickets. All 3 teams are coming off good 2020 runs in the lead up as well.

My top 5 batting picks for IPL are -

5. Graeme Smith- You can count of Smith. He is a man so cool under pressure you feel at ease just by looking at him. He racked up the runs for Shane Warne when it mattered last year and playing at home in front of his home crowds will lift the big man.

4. Brendan Mcullum - Mcullum gave the IPL a start that even Lalit Modi couldn't have engineered. His big hitting is an art form. Brendan has learnt the virtue of consistency and from the looks of things in NZ over the summer is ready for another rumble in the jungle.

3. Adam Gilchrist- If you want clean hitting then look no further. Gilchrist still gives me nightmares after what he did to Sri Lanka in the world cup final. Has plenty of experience in SA and will want to prove to Australia and the world what they are missing out on. Plus he walks. What more can you ask for.

2. Kevin Peitersen - Big egos need to be watered all the time. The IPL gives KP the prime time opportunity to expand his self love and in doing so provide us with some switch hitting genius. The IPL was made for KP and KP for it. He will be keen to prove his 1mil+ worth. Probably at the expense of some hapless bowler. Good thing Mick Lewis ain't around.

1. Jesse Ryder - We have just witnessed the birth of a Giant. And that's no poke at Jesses' hefty size. Well it is but Ryder seems to have the natural gift of time and has ample of it when facing the ball and its perfection when hitting it. Its Ryder’s first time out in the IPL and if he can stay sober he might light the whole show on fire.

Well now that the chances to watching the matches live in India do not exist anymore, it seems more likely that cricket fans would have to do with Cricket News & updates online and get going with some good interactive cricket stuff over the internet!

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