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Telford Vice: Runs lacking as dog has its IPL day

April 21st, 2009 by telford vice in IPL, South Africa

Brace yourself, Sheila and other, gentler readers, for a conspiracy theory.

A cat darts madly along the fence at Citi Field in New York during the brand new baseball stadium’s opening match. Incredulity ensues before the moggy makes a dash into the darkness.

A squirrel scurries up the touchline at Wembley, London during the FA Cup semi-final. Arsene Wenger sits untwitching like a geriatric shrew.

A dog takes to the outfield at Newlands, Cape Town and holds up the first match in the Incredible Pyrotechnic Loudness (IPL) for more than 10 minutes. Jacob Oram, a shaggy dog story himself, makes a half-hearted attempt to catch the critter, who bounds effortlessly away.

I smell a rat. Actually, I expect to see a rat pop out of a scrum in a Super 14 rugby match any weekend now. And I don’t mean the referee.

By far the most engaging of the animal crackers was Bruno, the big black dog we didn’t know from a big black dog who made Newlands his backyard even as the players looked on listlessly like people awaiting a bus.

Security men shaped rather more like Dwayne Leverock than Jonty Rhodes made the earth move as they dived at the slippery fellow in vain. Bruno eventually left on his own terms, skulking behind the advertising hoardings never to be seen again. There is no truth in the rumour that Lalit Modi immediately promised a fat bonus to the brilliant marketing mind that hatched this fine idea.

The point is that the antics of a crafty canine are what will be uppermost for many in the wake of the IPL’s opening blast.

After five matches, the highest total was Chennai’s mere 179 for 5 – there were 26 higher totals last year – and Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Matthew Hayden were the only half-centurions. At least Anil Kumble delivered something stupendous with his 5 for 5. It was also good to see that Shane Warne’s mojo still smoulders, and that RP Singh has returned to form.

But we’ll need plenty more where that came from. The prisoners in Kolkata who refused food because the tournament wasn’t on their televisions told us loud and clear that the IPL wasn’t about marketing or cheerleaders or hounds on the loose, however lovable, or even about money.

What is it about? Cricket. That’s why we’re watching.

Telford Vice is a freelance cricket writer in South Africa who writes regularly for The Wisden Cricketer

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