It was announced the other day that the games that constitute the 2012 Indian Premier League (IPL), a competition lasting six weeks and using the shortest form of the game of cricket, Twenty20, have been watched by more than a million people—and we’re only just over half way through the tournament. Now, when I (Martin) say “watched,” I’m talking about actual bums on seats at the grounds, and not the tens (perhaps hundreds) of millions of people around the world who are enjoying the games on TV or (like me) over the Internet. And when I say “bums on seats,” I mean mostly standing in nail-bitten excitement or jumping around in an ecstatic frenzy.
I was skeptical and not a little snobbish about the IPL: its rampant consumerism, its hype and brashness, and the money. It seemed to me, to use a timeworn phrase, not cricket. But for sheer entertainment value, the IPL is hard to beat. This year, a record number of games have been won off the last ball of the match; some astonishing batting has turned almost certain defeats to improbable victories; and Rahul Dravid, that most unlikely of barnstormers, has been reborn as a dasher. Yes, it’s sometimes not pretty; it’s awash with crassness and glitz; but the sheer vitality and energy the games possess (a feature of the sell-out crowds that turn up to watch each game) can’t be denied. You can get a feel of a typical game by going here.