| DAME GAME: Mandira Bedi, the First Lady of Indian cricket
Coming live from Eden Gardens…
This is in praise of ITV which has done a deal under which all the 59 Indian Premier League (IPL) matches are being shown live in the UK. So far, the viewing figures have been encouraging — 4,90,000 on Friday, March 12, day one.
ITV, which has signed a one-year deal with IPL, has taken over the UK rights from Setanta and says it is getting over seven times what Setanta achieved last year.
Live coverage will be presented by (sports presenter) Matt Smith alongside Bollywood actress and presenter Mandira Bedi, announced ITV.
The channels director of digital channels and acquisitions, Zai Bennett, pointed out: In only two years, the Indian Premier League has established itself as one of the worlds most high profile and exciting sports events which attracts some of the very best cricketers from around the globe. Its an exciting acquisition… and were delighted to be able to offer the whole tournament free-to-air.
Flicking channels, I chanced happily on the live coverage on the first Sunday from Eden Gardens. As the cameras panned I tried my best to catch sight of family and friends as one does on such occasions.
Mandira is no longer doing IPL in India though she will be returning home for two weeks before coming back to London. Indias loss has been Britains gain though she might just be overdoing a few phrases…, e.g. lets see if Sourav/Dhoni/Kallis comes to the party.
Each day, along with a fetching new outfit — may be the sari suits her best — she has a couple of guests. Vikram Solanki, Ronnie Irani, Graeme Hick, Graham Thorpe, John Emburey, Mark Ramprakash, Clive Lloyd have all been excellent. Women cricketers would add to this mix. The ad breaks which come just when you think Mandira is going to talk to her guests are annoying, though.
British viewers might wonder if the women caressed by the roving cameras were typical of India. Shilpa Shetty would be recognised but probably not Deepika Padukone, Preity Zinta and Katrina Kaif.
Watching IPL is a little like eating cashew nuts. If you take one, you know you are going to finish the whole packet.
Oh, I will just watch one more over to see if a diving Sourav is going to stop the boundary this time or Jacques Kallis hit a DLF maximum (six to you and me or sixer if you hail from the Hindi speaking states). Before you know where you are, work has been forgotten and you have watched all 40 overs plus the presentation ceremony.
We all hope ITV will sign on for IPL next year.
|HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW: The tale of Kevin Pietersen
Its nice to know there is still honour among warriors — or even the worlds top cricketers. I refer to a heart warming tale of friendship between South African-born Kevin Pietersen of England and Rahul Dravid.
Pietersen was not exactly in danger of being dropped because he is, after all, Englands star batsman. However, with only one century since 2008, he had struggled in South Africa and in the warm up games in Bangladesh.
He returned to form in the first Test against Bangladesh when he missed a century by one run. On getting 99, a relieved Pietersen expressed gratitude to Dravid — I spoke with Rahul and his advice was spectacular.
Rahul, an amazing player of spin, had been a huge help.
Pietersen, who has a $1m contract to play for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, went on: Ive played with Rahul for Bangalore, Ive played a lot of Test cricket against him and in two weeks Ill be spending a month with him (at the IPL). Its great to spend time speaking to people like that and hes helped a heck of a lot.
So what had Rahul suggested?
Little things like where my hands were, where I put my feet, what areas I wanted to hit into. He gave me a couple of tips he uses and it really worked out great — 99 is better than nought.
Maybe one day Pietersen will return the compliment, perhaps even in the area of hairstyles of which he has had many.
If winter comes…
This has been the coldest winter in the UK in 31 years, the Met Office has confirmed.
The lowest temperature recorded this winter was in Altnaharra, 50 miles south-west of John Groats in the Highlands of Scotland. The –22.3°C recorded was the coldest UK minimum since 1995. One evening I went to meet the girls after they had arrived back in London after their skiing expedition to the South Pole — they said London felt chillier.
In January there was a gas leak outside the house which meant we were without heating (or cooking) for more than a month. It is hard to believe that many people live solely on takeaways. Now, suddenly the fridge has broken down. In England, which does not have a repair culture, it is hard to know whether to go for a new one or try and get an engineer to come out. But the call out and repair charges might add up to as much as a new fridge.
How do you keep the milk from going off or butter from melting or food fresh meanwhile?
You just put them on the ledge outside the kitchen door where the night temperature is lower than in a fridge. The only luck you hope for is that the cats or foxes that roam the garden at night dont discover your little treasure trove.
Newspapers undertake all manner of promotions these days to boost circulation but the one I find hardest to resist is the one adopted by The Times which frequently gives away a free copy of a classic novel with an issue of the daily paper.
Books adding to my pile of the already read, to be read, would like to read but will probably never be read include Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert; Julie and Julia by Julie Powell; The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers; One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey; A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams; Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard; The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. There is even How to Punctuate by George Davidson.
How The Times absorbs the cost of a paperback in the £1 cover price I do not know but the choices are a pleasing balance between entertaining and mind improving. Readers will be relieved that so far they have spared autobiographies written by footballers or their wives and girlfriends.
A question that has been intriguing many for some time: why is the Calcutta Cup, the rugby trophy contested by the six nations of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales, called the Calcutta Cup?
It all goes back to Christmas Day 1872, when a game of rugby, between 20 players representing England and 20 representing Scotland, Ireland and Wales, was played in Calcutta.
There are no plans to call this the Kolkata Cup or Kup but given the citys literary traditions perhaps SRKs KKR should be renamed the Calcutta Night Writers for next season.