April 2009
« Mar   May »

Sam Collins: Rain, rain come and stay

April 22nd, 2009 by Sam Collins in England, Miscellaneous

As we sit smugly in sunshine (or offices) and the IPL wades through South African rain, there is a temptation to raise two fingers in the direction of Lalit Modi. Yet the joke could, eventually, be on us – for it is a rarity that an excellent start to the summer continues through the main event. Back in 2007, when the warmest April on record gave way to virtual monsoon conditions in June, TWC was moved to publish the following article by Phillip Eden, vice-president of the Royal Meteorological Society.

The first signs that this summer might be out of the ordinary appeared in early spring where, for eight long weeks, there was little or no rain over large parts of the UK. April was the warmest recorded– and one of the driest. It all seems such a long time ago now.

But poor summers often follow spring droughts – and there is a reason for this. When a particular weather pattern becomes stuck over western Europe for several weeks in spring, there is a well-known tendency for it to shift westwards by early summer.

Thus the high-pressure system which dominated March and April slipped away into mid-Atlantic in May. This forced rain-laden Atlantic depressions to travel round the top of the high before plunging south-eastwards towards the British Isles. Apart from one short break in early June, this sequence continued into mid-July.

During the 20th century there were 10 outstandingly dry Aprils, and wet summers followed nine of them. So it may feel nice to start the season on hard wickets under blue skies but such conditions rarely augur well for the bulk of the summer.

It may not happen – there has been a fair quantity of rain amid the sun this April – but should the rain predicted in some quarters for this weekend materialise perhaps we should greet it with a little more gratitude. Apologies for ruining a lovely afternoon.

Sam Collins is website editor of thewisdencricketer.com

Posted in England, Miscellaneous | 2 Comments »

Lawrence Booth: Battle of Bollywood eclipsing IPL

April 22nd, 2009 by Lawrence Booth in IPL, South Africa

The struggle out here in South Africa was relentless even before the Indian Premier League got under way in Cape Town on Saturday. No quarter has been given, none asked for. No trick is too dirty, no ruse too cunning. The perma-smiles disguise a world of tension. Reputations are at stake. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Battle of Bollywood.

Last year the IPL made no attempt to pretend it wasn’t trading heavily for its publicity on the photogenic qualities of Shah Rukh Khan (owner of Kolkata Knight Riders) and Preity Zinta (co-owner of Kings XI Punjab). This year Shilpa Shetty has come on board (she seems to be cheering for Rajasthan Royals, but these associations are fairly fluid) and the battle has hotted up, even if the South African dailies have shown less inclination than their Indian counterparts in 2008 to plaster their front pages with smiley, happy (and rather rich) people. These are truly epoch-making times.

The stars moved into position early. Preity was interviewed during the mid-innings interval of the fourth ODI between South Africa and Australia as far in advance as nine days ago, when she showed alarming knowledge of her own team by extolling the virtues of Burt Cockley. Opposition franchises quaked. But Shah Rukh, the old dog, smoothness itself and – it must be said – possessing a very passable line in banter, wasn’t going to take that one lying down. Two days before the tournament began, he unveiled his new video, a song-and-dance combo he had dreamed up to convey the ferocity and competitiveness (and various other abstract nouns) of his Knight Riders.

Shetty was now playing catch-up, but when she gatecrashed the eve-of-IPL press conference in Cape Town, Preity and Shah Rukh had come along for the ride too! Lenses didn’t know which way to point. It was hard to blame them.

Cameramen are contractually obliged to zoom in on the Bollywood owners a pre-agreed number of times per match (this really is true), so once the cricket was under way it was simply a question of who could squeeze in more extra-curricular exposure. This has taken some ingenuity. Before the start of play yesterday at Durban, where the local Indian population had turned out in fairly healthy numbers despite the heaving skies, Preity seized the initiative by wandering around the boundary and hurling Kings XI-branded T-shirts into the adoring crowd.

But Shah Rukh and Shilpa hit back. The tannoy relieved itself of a blast of Shah Rukh’s catchy number while Shilpa, one-time star of Celebrity Big Brother, was charm personified during an interview with an English broadsheet journalist. Undeterred, Shah Rukh threw a lavish party for all concerned at a hotel on the Durban sea-front, where I can assure you the chicken tikka was out of this world. The man is not to be outdone.

The second IPL is still in its infancy. Mistakes will almost certainly be made. But if the opening skirmishes are anything to go by, the Zinta-Khan-Shetty showdown will run and run.

Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for The Guardian. His third book, Cricket, Lovely Cricket? An Addict’s Guide to the World’s Most Exasperating Game is out now published by Yellow Jersey

Posted in IPL, South Africa | 3 Comments »

Site by Anson Robson Marketing © 2010 The Wisden Cricketer All Rights Reserved