IPL & Love Life- Cricket & Romance are so closely related.

Ye IPL hai boss, one simply doesn’t have the time to brood over the outcome and complexities of one match. The mantra is to get over it and belt yourself for the next entertainer. Who knows the next flavor might just be better.’ said the girl. The guy looked bamboozled. Yes, T20 cricket has introduced a new twist to the relationship equation as well. Get over the old, boring and unexciting equation and delve into a new one which can offer a different variety.

Perplexed? Well, we are talking about the entry and exit of oneself in his love life. The so called ‘Love Life’ of any individual can be beautifully captured in a unique cricketing model.

The age old love gurus have always advised one to first build his love equation on a 50 over format which we may call the Bubble-Gum Model.

So, here goes the Bubble-Gum Model:

Pre Match Analysis: This one is very detailed and analysed to the core. The batsman (Hari) has heard a lot about the opening strike bowler: her dressing style variations, her mood swings, and her seam-ingly airy attitude. But if the heart clicks, mind stops to respond! After a debated discussion with his team mates, the strategies are set and the plan chalked out. We are ready for the face off!

Let’s take a look at a typical match between our hero Hari and the lady concerned.

The First Meeting ≈ First over of the match: Obviously, the 2 candidates were at the opposite end of spectrum, but very intrigued by each other’s differences. She (the bowler) was the extreme extrovert dressing to shock and Hari (the batsman) was the introvert, shockingly dressed!

The first ball was a confident forward defensive stroke.

(Girl: I tell you the traffic here in Delhi is killing,

Hari: Yes, you are right, it was almost impossible to get here on time)

Nice start. Hari assumes. The pitch (the environment) is looking batsman friendly and the bowler to his liking. But all his illusions are shattered the very next ball, which is a bouncer.

(Girl: For truly I say to you, if you have faith as tiny as a grain of mustard seed, you will move this mountain. Move from here to there and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you.)

Hari is perplexed. ‘Nothing is impossible! Mustard Seed…I guess she is hungry’, he thinks in his mind. But his coach (Love Guru) had told him to repeatedly praise the girl. ‘Praise her to heavens’, the Love Guru had said.

Hari gives the charge ready to deposit the next ball into the stands.

Hari: Beautifully written! I have heard a lot about your writings. Your friends have told me. And got a first glimpse here! Precise and blunt!

Girl: Well, it’s the quote from the Bible. And I am not so much into writing. I read a lot more. In fact I have read Bible twice.

Ohh, the charge was unsuccessful and the ball was missed.

Steady boy, steady! This is a different fish to fry. The usual tricks won’t suffice.

The coach’s pep talk flashed in his mind.

“It’s a 50 over match my son! The U Strategy is clear:

First 4 overs: Assess the pitch. Get an idea of line and length.

Next 3 overs: Attack, if you find the bowler to your liking.

And the final 3 overs: Be your natural self. The range of strokes would flow!

(The assumption is that a bowler gets a maximum of 10 overs in an ODI)

And the beauty of the game is that simultaneously you can see other bowlers (of course girls). And who knows, the bowler to your liking might be the other one. But the key is patience followed by aggression. We have 10 full overs to play my son!”

Hari started to concentrate again. No more loose shots. It started to rain outside. Sensing an opportunity to converse, the Hari tried to display his range of shots (vocal strengths).

Hari (in an Anu Malik’s voice and tune): Dekho baarish ho rahi hai, it’s raining, it’s raining, it’s raining!

Girl: I think of the garden after the rain, and hope to my heart comes singing, at the morn the cherry blooms will be white, and the Easter Bell will be ringing!

Hari (confused): Oh, this one is also from the Bible.

Girl: Nope, this is by Edna D Proctor. You must have heard of him.

Boy: No, I have heard of only Proctor and Gamble! Ha ha.

There was a complete silence. The batsman had missed another delivery. To his defence, it was a peach of a ball: pitched on middle stump (the rain outside), angling in (the quote from the girl), inducing a stroke from the batsman (his response) and then just moving away (the complete silence).

Well, as we can rightly observe the first over did not go as desired. No runs scored. The bowler is looking menacing and the batsman short of match practice. Dejected, the boy went back to the coach and the support staff.

Post first 3 overs analysis: The coach responded: ‘Don’t panic, we have 9 more overs my son! Just remember the U strategy. But we have analysed the other non striker batsman (Prem) and he seems to be doing well my son. That’s a cause of concern for us.’

Coach to Hari (in his strategy sheet): I observed the innings between Prem and the girl. And have drawn out a few conclusions. Hari, you are extremely self conscious, particularly as Prem never looked like getting a blemish while you looked like a pepperoni pizza: keeping head down, avoiding eye contact and sustaining a fold-over hairdo- these are your answers to a problem. This is derailing your social activities and destroying your confidence with the girls. Buck up!’

Remaining 7 overs of the match: What followed was a confident display by Hari. He had adjusted his shot selection according to the pace and bounce on offering, probably faced much of the opposition’s attack and got familiar with what she was trying to achieve. Footwork and judgement of singles (on last ball of the over) were sharper and more precise, and Hari was looking to capitalise on any scoring opportunities. Yes, he had tamed the bowler by the 7th over (in 5 months) and there was no looking back since then. The bowler offered some very good deliveries and Hari was upto it. (The crux of the matter is that both gave time to each other: the evening walks near India Gate, eating chaat-pakaudi and chit-chatting for long hours did the trick).

That is the beauty of the 50 over ODI format of Bubble-Gum Model. You have maximum time to play in there, you get the thrill of hitting sixes and fours and if lucky, you can hit a century (the smart ones can obviously can get the link now). The bowler also appreciates the batsman, the batsman also respects the good deliveries and only when the time is apt, the run flows.

But not everyone is as lucky as Hari, a few get out trying to be ahead of oneself, thinking of possible outcomes and fell for the ultimate sin: not giving the bowler enough respect. How many times have we seen that a juicy half volley floated outside the off stump and the batsman instinctively throwing his hands at it to smash an easy four through the covers? However, instead of crashing into the pickets, it squirted off an outside edge and was plucked out of thin air by the fielder, as it was a warm up drill. Beware of these fielders (friends of the non striker and the batsman waiting on the bench). Steve Waugh has rightly said, ‘Concentration is about thinking only one thought at a time and staying in the present.’ But the format did give an opportunity for one to explore and then take the plunge.

Why the name ‘Bubble-Gum’? Because before the bubble could burst, the contract simply sticks to you like a gum. And if the selectors (the parents) permit, he is promoted to play at the test level (Marriage is on Cards: Life Long ‘gum’ on hands).

Yes, the Test Match level is the official marriage card in our Bubble-Gum Model. One can be lucky enough to play the ODI format but in our model, it’s inevitable to play the test format. The Selectors pick you to play the same at any cost. Irrespective of the style of your play, the first few sessions here are ‘an adjustment phase’, after which the pitch transforms into the flattest batting track of all (describing the initial marital bliss). The key to this transition from perilous to paradise is patience (yes more patience indeed), but when you are a new player bubbling with energy, this is easier said than done. However, after you have settled, the game of wait and watch begins. The purity and sanity gives way to a game of chess. The same old bowler bowling overs after overs! After a few days, the pitch (read relationship) becomes slow and loses all bite. A dead track and a boring strike rate. The excitement dies down. The non striker here is no mood to come to strike, relaxing at the non striker end. The fielders too become lethargic and lazy. And contrary to actual Test Cricket, the selectors keep picking you again and again. And even if one gets dismissed (hurdles in marriage life); there is always a second chance. There is turn in the pitch after a few sessions, but the batsman learns to play accordingly. Few balls turn viscously and kick the batsman on the face reminding him not to lose track and be more patient.

Well, the age old traditions are in for a change. The advent of IPL has modified both the versions of the game: the former is becoming a rarity and the latter is finishing a lot earlier. In the new format, the batsmen are walking a tightrope without a safety net, and courage is needed to maintain focus and belief. There is no more a luxury of availability of 10 overs. No time to get settled in, to assess the pitch: it’s just swashbuckling stroke making. Couple of meetings and the call is taken. The 50 over model changes distinctly:

  • There is no coach or support staff in the current fast model. In fact they have converted themselves into batsmen. See the opportunity provided by the speedier format! With no coach to assist in the planning of strategies and mentoring, it becomes a case of ‘sink or swim’ environment. The batsman feels relatively alone and isolated. He has to look after himself and try to adapt as quickly as possible, or else he would become yet another causality of the unique model.

I said to my friend with whom I had talked about my 50 over Bubble-Gum Model, “Very true, IPL has changed the model itself. It has become faster. The batsman has to….

She interrupted, ‘I think the roles have swapped in the new IPL Model. The girls are the batsmen now and the guys have become the poor bowlers. With the option of just swinging the bat, and even the edges and the miss-hits going over the ropes, the majority of the bowlers are left with no choice but to defend. Think for yourself.’

A profound thought indeed! When a batsman is on a roll, it’s a complete pandemonium, with whistles, catcalls, clanging bottles and plastic bottles making a nonstop cacophony that devoured the fielders like a mini tornado. Yes, she was right. The batsmen (the girls) have the ultimate power. Surely the roles have reversed!

That’s the truth of life: ‘Ye IPL hai boss’

P.S: The Bubble-Gum model was conceived by us, a group of friends, after years of deliberation. Credits to them as well!

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Adrit Mishra

When statistics & management insights transcends into philosophical, introspective & poetic ones