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May 2009
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Telford Vice: We’ll miss it when it’s gone

May 5th, 2009 by Telford Vice in IPL, South Africa, Twenty20

The chef forsook the hurly burly of the kitchen for the quiet calm of the dining area of the New Delhi restaurant in uptown Jo’burg.

He stared hard with furrowed brow at a row of handsome copper pots ranged on a table near the far wall. All around him, nothing moved. He examined every detail like a sergeant-major surveying troops on parade as the minutes to the arrival of the colonel ticked silently away.

Presently the chef was joined by a slew of waiters and managers. A tense council steamed between them.

It was a slow weeknight and ours was the only table occupied: whatever were they fussing about?

Soon, the first man in a yellow shirt appeared. Then another, and another, and still another, until the restaurant was a swarming beehive of men wearing yellow shirts emblazoned with the crest of the Chennai Super Kings. One was at least 60, another no older than 12.

Most wore moustaches, the champion among them a grand handlebar that seemed to sweep several inches past its proud owner’s ears. All of them were certifiably starving.

They came, they saw, they conquered that copper pot buffet in no timid style. Around them the staff ducked and dived with unpracticed ease. At our invitation, one of the hungry horde shared our table.

“Very well,” was his assessment, between enthusiastic chomps and slurps, of Albie Morkel’s bowling.

Less than half an hour after they arrived, the yellow shirted squadron buzzed off into the tawny autumn evening. They departed unannounced, leaving their hunger and a gaggle of spent waiters in their wake. Ah, the life of the travelling supporter.

Anil Kumble seemed untroubled by a grumbling stomach or anything else as he strolled the marble corridors of a bling shopping mall this week. He pushed a pram containing a bespectacled youngster. Beside him walked his wife carrying another member of the clan on her hip. They couldn’t have looked more comfortably, happily ordinary if they tried.

If those two scenes prove anything, it’s that the IPL has made a remarkably successful transition from one world to another. The petty politics between organisers and functionaries that blighted earlier headlines have – predictably - melted away, and good crowds have braved bad weather at the matches.

Good times. And, as my mother might have said, “You’ll miss me when I’m gone.”

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

Posted in IPL, South Africa, Twenty20 |

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