The IPL slogfest is a Big Mac to the first-class game’s fillet ...

Sport

The IPL slogfest is a Big Mac to the first-class game’s fillet steak

Were T20 played without an imitation crowd, it would draw attention to how silly an exercise it is

Simon Heffer

The pandemic has driven people to lengths unimaginable in normal times, which is probably why I found myself watching the opening stages of the Indian Premier League (IPL) during the past week. This was harder than it might have been, as I neglected to lay in extensive supplies of beer to moderate the experience. Watching this absurd confection, with its slogging, raucous music, yelling and attempts through faux-portentousness to convey the impression that something profound is happening is not to be done with a mind unaltered by alcohol.

Brought up on England’s good old Gillette Cup and the John Player League, I gave up watching one-day cricket about 20 years ago, as it had begun to bore me. Once I went to a T20 match, thanks to the generous invitation of a friend, and though the hospitality was lavish and liquid, the culture shock was intense, and not in a good way. I thought of Mr Spock: it’s cricket, Jim, but not as we know it.

The cost of watching various crews of mercenaries engaging in these vulgar slogfests was having to restrict my consumption of the streamed coverage of Essex vs Somerset in English county cricket’s Bob Willis Trophy final. It provided an ample reminder of the absorbing, fascinating drama that the first-class game, played by seriously skilled cricketers, provides to those willing to concentrate on it...

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