October 2009
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Edward Craig: The Great Indian Rip-Off

October 18th, 2009 by Edward Craig in Champions League, Test cricket, Twenty20

Here’s another way that I was persuaded to part with more cash than was strictly necessary:

“I hate cricket,” he says – which is a surprise as he has a well-groomed Shahid Afridi beard, the same floppy hair and looks like he spends most of his days bowling over-quick legspin. I am sure it is Afridi.

“I hate cricket. There is too much money.” Mr Non-Afridi is a tour salesman. He organises trips for visitors to the likely sites around Delhi – the Taj Mahal being a popular destination and that’s where I am trying to go.

I have walked into his shop, been greeted like a king and led into a plush office in the back. I get the feeling he’s seen my type before – white, tourist, sunhat, on a strict timetable – I can see pure happiness in his eyes as I enter.

With a flick of those floppy locks and a rub of the semi-beard, he takes me into the office and asks me why I am in India. I explain. And the conversation about cricket has that most unpromising of starts.

“We used to have two maybe three games a year in Delhi. Big games, big days out. Everyone would go. Now there are too many – cricket, cricket, cricket. I hate it.” He is a slick, educated and articulate Indian. He feels it is an Indian rip off, quantity over quality.

“Champions League, IPL – no one will care about IPL in two years. It was a novelty.
You don’t remember the games, none of the players are great any more. And all the matches are fixed.” This is a view held by a worrying number of fans here – they do not trust what is being played out in front of them; the drama and theatre is too much – it is literally drama and theatre with a script, a number of acts and an encore. A fiction.

“When has Sachin ever made a winning hundred?” He barks – it is more of a bark now and he’s getting into his stride. In Chennai last year, I suggest – they chased 350-odd against England and “… 387 – they chased 387 and Sachin made 103 but Sehwag won that game the night before with his 83 off 68 balls.” For someone who hates cricket, he knows a lot.

The chat continues. We argue, discuss and laugh. His office table has a glass covering with maps of India placed underneath – they are old, brown and curled. He has a smart looking computer sat on his desk with no cables coming from it –it is there for show. A teasing picture of the Taj hangs behind his massive office chair.

In passing, as he discusses his ambivalence towards Mohammed Azharuddin, he mentions a price for a driver in an air-conditioned car who’ll take me to Agra to see the Taj. And Kumble should have captained India for longer.

Instead of haggling over the cost of the trip I find myself haggling over the Indian middle-order and I lose on both counts.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Champions League, Test cricket, Twenty20 | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Edward Craig: The Great Indian Rip-Off”

  1.   King Cricket says:

    No shame in coming off second best on either count.

    As a cricket writer with precisely no memory for scores, I’d have fallen at the first hurdle - so you fared better than I would have done.

  2.   Victoria Robertson says:

    Hi Ed

    Life is all a learning curve and being ripped off is one of the best ways to learn.

    I expect you did not mind being ripped off too much and the banter sounded good

  3.   jogesh99 says:

    Just see the pound/rupee exchange rate - and then talk about rip-offs.

  4.   Axeman says:

    Oh no, an encounter with a wily subcontinental. Sneaky types.

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