In Praise of the Genius of Lalit Modi: An Open Letter

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In Praise of the Genius of Lalit Modi: An Open Letter
(Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

Dear Mr Lalit Modi,

I would like to sincerely thank you and your brain trust for all of the smashing innovations that the IPL has brought to cricket. In fact many of these ideas, nay, VISIONS, are extensions of ideas that I’ve had for a long time, so it’s tremendously satisfying to see these high concepts implemented at the top level of the game.

For example, one of my ideas was to have a cricket team with a ludicrous and / or homo-erotic name. After all, what self respecting professional athlete would want to lose to a team called the Hyderabad Holdmethrillmekissme’s, or the Joburg Jellytotlickers?

The psychological advantage would be decisive because it would throw alpha males like Matthew Hayden and Graeme Smith completely off their manly stride. The big game players would choke and the rest of the batting order would subsequently implode with a procession of three-ball ducks.

So when I discovered that one of the franchises was going to be called the Kolkata Knight Riders, I yelped a yelp of unadulterated joy. I vaguely remember spending the rest of the week in a dizzyingly blissful fog of contemplation; do they Ride Knights? And is the “riding” consensual?

Mounting an unwilling knight requires a considerable amount of bravery and ingenuity, given that most knights wear chainmail, have swords, and are staunchly heterosexual.

I could barely contain my jubilation when I learned that each of the franchises would have equally stupid names (except for the Deccan Chargers, who possess a good solid sports name. Please fix this ASAP, Mr Modi).

I also like how most of the team names have something to do with royalty and nobility. My nerd friend, Brandon, says that this is because of the aspirational appeal of royalty to the common working man in India, based on centuries of exploitation by a feudal caste system imposed by the ruling royal class over the subservient peasant caste. 

But what does Brandon know? He likes Test cricket. What a boring dork.

The other thing I love about the Kolkata Knight Riders is their flash kit. I couldn’t believe my little bloodshot eyes when the KKR took to the field in black and gold uniforms! Black and gold! If Darth Vader owned an IPL franchise, they’d look like the KKR.

The best part about the KKR kit is all the sponsors logos and writing on it, because it sort of looks like gauges, buttons, and instructions for changing the settings of each individual Cricket Storm Trooper.

The big blue sponsor’s logo on the back is especially fetching because it clashes so magnificently with the rest of the colour scheme. Not even Picasso on acid could’ve come up with something like that. I love it.

Mr Modi, the masterstroke of you and your brain trust was in realizing that nobody owns the intellectual copyright on cricketing terminology. That way you could rename things like sixes and sell the naming rights to companies.

It’s money for jam, really, and I wish I thought of that one! It seems so obvious to call an instance where a batsman clears the ropes for six additional runs a “six”. Obvious and boring. I think that calling it a “DLF MAXIMUM” sounds way more exciting, and good on your lot for dreaming that scheme up.

Even the commentators think it’s an improvement, otherwise they wouldn’t be calling a six a “DLF MAXIMUM” every time. The only true thing in this world is that the integrity of cricket commentators cannot be bought for any price. Cricket commentators and catholic priests are two of the most morally incorruptible occupations on the planet.

When Richie Benaud and Bill Lawry are musing about the current odds on a game they’re calling, it has absolutely nothing to do with the bookie’s logo being flashed on the screen. It’s just idle chatter to fill the spaces between deliveries.

Robin Jackman loves the new lingo. Brandon, my ignorant nerd friend who likes Test match cricket, says that Jackman is handed cash in a brown paper bag every time he says “DLF”. I really hate Brandon sometimes. He sucks the fun out of everything.

As far as I’m concerned, it was brilliant to hear Robin Jackman and Mark Nicholas start to riff on the “DLF” thing, like when Yuvraj Singh smacked one over the cover fence, Jackman called it a “Dee-El-Effer.”

It was great because it sounded like Robin had just come up with a clever acronym for cussing in amazement at the shot. Later on when Rohit Sharma carted one over cow corner, Jackman merely exclaimed “D! L! F!” in perfect, staccato rhythm, reminiscent of a seasoned rapper with much gangsta street cred. Word.

I can only assume that your sales and marketing team got a little lazy when it came to selling the rest of cricket’s terminology to the highest bidders, because the only other piece of new fangled lingo is “Citi Moment Of Success”.

Having said that, it’s pretty clever because it can cover pretty much anything else that transpires on a cricket field, be it a run out, a catch, or a drinks break.

I would go one step further though. I think that you should institute the OPPOSITE of a “Citi Moment Of Success.” I think that something like a “McDonalds Moment Of Abject Failure” would add necessary balance to the coverage, in addition to further coinage to the coffers.

That way, every time some kid on the boundary gets his shins smashed in by a speeding ball taking a wicked bobble as it crosses the boundary ropes, we can mirthfully unite as cricket lovers under the all-encompassing umbrella of corporate branding.

Your crack team of sport-ainment experts have really hit the jackpot by devising a fair play table. Cricket is the gentleman’s game, a sport driven by ethics and camaraderie, not by money and results. The fact that the fair play trophy is sponsored by a multinational corporation is completely irrelevant.

I’m not entirely sure who the arbiters of sporting play are, or exactly how the system works, but I’m 100 percent certain that it is completely scientific and totally objective. I’ve heard that the IPL would never have attracted the big names of world cricket, like Shane Warne, had it not been for the fair play trophy.

The fair play trophy is, without a doubt, the most coveted prize of the entire competition. That’s why the trophy is handcrafted by magical woodland elves, using only the finest invisible precious gems and see-through gold known to man.

This makes it at least 20 times more valuable than that awfully ostentatious diamond encrusted ode to decadent excess that is the IPL championship trophy.

Furthermore, Mr Modi, I was over the moon when I found out about the strategy breaks after 10 overs. Brandon, my college geek friend who is actually incredibly stupid, told me that it’s just something you invented so that you could sell more advertising spots. I hope Brandon gets hit by a bus, because I know he’s dead wrong.

Strategy breaks are breaks in which a team gets together to discuss strategy in critical areas, for example, how to be more sportsmanlike over the next passage of play to win the coveted and invisible fair play trophy.

It’s also incredibly convenient for me. During the first strategy break in the match between the Deccan Chargers (booo!) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (hurrah!), I found time to put the kettle on, potter around in the garden, run off to the shops and the cobbler, murder a prostitute and watch the 1990 Tour de France in its entirety, something I had been meaning to do for the last 19 years.

Strategy breaks are the future of the game and I only wish that there were more of them. There should be one after every over, in my opinion.

Strategy breaks are definitely not annoying and superfluous. They are, in fact, the opposite of annoying and superfluous.

The final stroke of genius is the competition you’re running throughout the IPL in South Africa. You’re searching for the next Bollywood starlet to star opposite Shah Rukh Khan in a Bollywood feature film.

Brandon, a.k.a. Mr Killjoy, says that it’s a sad indictment of the very low standards of acting ability required in Bollywood that some random chick can be picked out from the crowd at a cricket match to become a bona fide starlet, but we’ve already established that Brandon is a bit of a lump at the best of times.

I think that it’s great! It’s a Bollywood story come to life. It makes the rags-to-riches storyline of Slumdog Millionaire look like a cheap Chuck Norris film by comparison.

Thank you, Mr Modi, for bringing the glamour of Bollywood to my humble Africa. I love being constantly reminded that Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta are in attendance at the matches. I just simply cannot imagine myself ever growing tired of seeing close ups of the aforementioned legends in between every single delivery.

When we’re graced by their presence, I think that it’s highly disrespectful that we should be watching the cricket. When I know that they’re at the stadium, I just want to watch them watching the cricket.

Therefore I propose that for the rest of the IPL, we just have a still medium close up shot of Shah Rukh Khan enjoying the cricket, with ball-by-ball commentary sufficient to cover the secondary event of the cricketing contest.

The camera should be allowed to pan left every now and then to Preity Zinta to complete a two-shot of my all time favourite demi-gods in the same frame.

In closing to my letter, Mr Modi, I can only reiterate my deep admiration of your genius. I hope this letter finds you well and I would willingly avail myself to brainstorm any more radical ideas to drag the game of cricket into the 21st century. Yes we can, Lalit. Yes we can.

Respectfully yours in Cricketing Innovation,

Roscoe Palm

P.S. I also love how the post match presentation party is comprised of no less than 30 people.

P.P.S. Is Preity Zinta single?

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