Traditionally, the show must go on. It may be a stupid thing to say but that, in a nutshell, is what's going on. We have a new record out; if we won't tour, the new record dies. It's reality. It's what business is nowadays. You just need to tour to sell your albums
—Kerry King, iconic American guitarist
Almost 11 months to the day, S Sreesanth's alleged 'towel tactics' blew the lid off what many suspected was everyday business in the IPL. But after numerous arrests and releases, probes and panels, hearings and pleas, debates and discussions, 'The Great Indian Tamasha' is back to 'entertain' you. Largely unscathed. Who cares about reputations anyway? It's all about the money, baby.
Well, it's not for nothing they say cricket is a religion in India. After all, our 'gods' and 'demigods' can do no wrong. Sreesanth was, perhaps, an exception. Darn it, how could he? No wonder they banned him. For life. The rest are obviously innocent until caught with a towel. Or whatever.
Cricket, in the subcontinent, sells because it is supposed to be the most believable — should we say purest? — form of reality television. The sight of McCullum executing an out-of-the-world stroke will leave you spellbound. So will a Malinga yorker. And a Pollard catch. And those dimples. You know whose!
As the seventh edition of the league gets under way in the dazzling desert kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, cricket-crazy fans back home are happy they have something to keep them occupied. The general elections, or 'desh ka sabse bada talent show' according to a commercial, is held every five years. Thank god for a stable democracy. But don't worry: the bandwagon will move to India on May 2.
And thank god for Lalit Modi, the "founder and architect" of the league who associates himself with all things good anywhere in the world. But question him about the ills plaguing the system (read IPL), he squarely blames N Srinivasan. How convenient!
Even as Sunil Gavaskar and Shivlal Yadav are doing their best to keep the ship afloat (with or without 'external' assistance), Srinivasan has finally admitted (in the Supreme Court) that Gurunath Meiyappan was the "public face" of the Chennai Super Kings. Talking of the most popular, and revered (for obvious reasons) franchise in the league, here's what skipper MS Dhoni said on Tuesday: "We will try the laundry, that's good, will keep us clean." No, he wasn't asked about ways and means to maintain good hygiene in the 'hot as hell' climes. The question was a simple, genuine and pertinent one. "How do you think we can clean up the IPL?" Ah, what a great sense of humour. Almost Russell Peters-esque. Whistle podu!
Come to think of it, the hearing into the PIL filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar will resume on Wednesday. But the IPL is not just recession-proof. So there isn't much to worry.
Onto more serious business and the first 20 matches, from Wednesday to April 30, will be played across three venues in the UAE. The Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium, which is incidentally located in Sharjah, will host six of these. From Miandad's six to Tendulkar's (welcome back, by the way) twin tons in three days, the venue has seen it all. It's also witnessed an awful lot else, which is why the NDA government advised the Indian team not to play there. But the BCCI (with its fair share of BJP and Congress honchos) obviously knows better. Sharjah, to them, is like a pilgrim centre.
Onto even more serious business and most eyes will be on Yuvraj Singh (who cost the Royal Challengers a whopping Rs 14 crore), Vijay Mallya and, of course, the cheerleaders. For all you know, the anti-corruption officers will be pressed into service this time. Who knows, they might even net a fish or two. There will be bans, but the fans will go nowhere. That's because IPL-8 will be back to thrill. This is real cricket, after all.