As I turned up for Surrey’s first T20 of the year I couldn’t help but make comparisons between this competition and the IPL. Sure I’ve never been to an actual IPL game, but we’ve all been to an IPL game in spirit.
I arrived about 15 minutes before the start of play, and so did about 300 other people. It meant I, and Suave, got to see how the “crowd” was pumped up. First the Surrey cheerleaders were brought out, in long pants. Surely this proves that cheerleaders and the English climate are not a great match. Then the PA guy took us throw an awkward 30 seconds of chanting Go Surrey, or something like that. He seemed excited by the crowd response. We didn’t hear any response.
That lacklustre start was then compounded by the Surrey PA man announcing the team in the same way NBA players are read out, except without the energy. Batting at 1, your captain and winner of last year’s T20, Rory-Hamilton-Brown. When your team has to talk up your captain’s achievement with his former club, times are tough. Andrew Symonds was called the greatest T20 player ever. Younis Khan and Ramps had their test and first class record bumped up.
It was as if the whole thing was a half assed attempt to be American. The IPL might be mental, but it is a fully-fledged American Indian hybrid of mental. This was cheerleaders in long pants in front of a stand with 40 people in it. For a great deal of time there had to have been more employees than actual crowd. Surrey had decided on assigning seat numbers, which is what they do for all Category 1 matches. The problem is that this was an after work game, so no one came down at the same time, and everyone just sat where they wanted while over eager Oval attendees tried to force them into their seats while hundreds of seats were free behind them.
Then the game started. Surrey to bat with a pretty handy line up of Lady Hamilton Brown, Tell em Steve Davies, Ramps, Andrew Symonds and Younis Khan. Even at six they had a test player in Usman Azfaal. So when they feel to 5/17 it was a bit of a shock. Even for Surrey this was bad.
Eventually they made their way to 97.
There was music blaring, but when the game got boring, we’d have preferred they kept it on.
Then the real entertainment started with the bringing out of the T-shirt gun to fire t-shirts into the crowd. The t-shirt guy was far better than any of Surrey batsmen, as he actually found the gaps between the crowd. Suave and Dan from test match sofa both went running after one, Suave got it, Dan fell over. Now being that there was almost no one at the ground, imagine how embarrassing it would be for the t-shirt guy to run out of t-shirts. Exactly.
A cheerleader came over with more after 5 minutes of two cheer leaders and the t-shirt guy looking really embarrassed as drunken patrons abused them.
Then the Gloucester Gladiators came out to bat with a Kiwi and an Irishman. They chased the target down in 9.5 overs without losing a wicket.
From the moment the game was off people in the cheap seats starting booing Surrey. It was hardly surprising, they had put up such a pointless display of cricket they should have been happy to be booed. Then when they got to the Pavilion the members booed them some more.
The booing and the terrible cricket were the only attempts at making it more like the IPL that didn’t fail.
Then we all went to the pub, with with Soph from the sofa, whose netball game outlasted the majority of the cricket. The bar man asked me if the cricket had started yet, I told him it had finished. He asked where everyone was, as they were expecting a big influx of cricket fans. I said we were it.