I was planning to present a more formal, professional wrap-up of the final stages of the tournament, with great formatting, photos, heading and subheadings, tons of awards... but since this season seems to barely be creeping towards the finish line, how can we expect its blog coverage to be any different? We'll save the deep insights for the season post-mortems, and right now leave it at some notes of praise and annoyance, which I managed to jot down in my last lucid moments of the night:
there a rule that says at least one of the semifinals of every knockout
tournament has to be a complete blowout? I can't even think back to the last
time we had a pair of really exciting, high-quality semifinals, in any sport... every time it seems at least one of the two games must end in total annihilation. In cricket, in recent history, we've had either one blowout and one classic (1999 World Cup), one blowout and one reasonably
tight contest (2003 World Cup, 2004 Champions Trophy), or even two blowouts (2007 World Cup).
(If anything, the tightest pair of semis we've seen might've been the one of the Twenty20 World Cup last November, which is a good sign for the future of the format, I suppose.)
- As much as I dig the concept of the IPL -- and as obvious as it is how much world cricket needed the boost from its creation -- I can't help but worry about the damn genie we've uncorked. I mean, if you had told me before the tournament that Shane Watson would be the runaway nominee for MVP, that Graeme Smith would be the leading scorer in the best team of the tournament, that Glenn McGrath would be treated like a demigod by all concerned, and that Australia would unearth another world class batting opener with a bright future, I might have said, "thanks but no thanks" and walked away right then and there. Who needs that in their life?
- On a similar note, it's a shame that so many top players had to leave right as the league was set to be reaching its more exciting stages. It's just hard to get really excited about a supposed "league of stars" that includes so many mediocre players in its semifinal squads. No offense to them, but a middle order of Dhawan, Tiwary, and Dilshan is not exactly billboard material for the brave new world. I know it'll probably be different next year, but it's a bit of a drag to think about how much better these final stages could have been, if organised properly. (Now we just need to wait another 46 weeks to see if anyone in power realises this.)
- Alas, another one is lost to the Dark Side: Farveez Maharoof is already doing the "McGrath Headshake", even after bowling incisive, 3-wicket spell that almost put his team in a commanding position early on. (Papa McG must be so proud.) Maharoof is definitely one of the players who must be wishing the IPL would never end... his stock has risen massively in the past 6 weeks, to the point where, under the right light, he's already looking like one of the top-5 all-rounders in world cricket. (At least in limited overs cricket.)
- And if Maharoof indeed makes it to the top-5, where would that put Sohail Tanvir? Best bowler in the tournament batting at no.3 in the semifinal -- that is pretty much unprecedented as far as I can tell. Have Pakistan discovered another talent of Abdul Razzaq-like proportions? And, more importantly, does it come free from an Abdul Razzaq-like mentality?
- Congratulations to Shane Warne, not only for leading his team to the final and for contributing again in the semifinal with a pair of cheap wickets and some typically strong captaincy, but for perfectly coordinating the timing of his hair plugs to last throughout the tournament. Just as he's starting to show hints of a budding crop circle on top, the league is set to end and he can go safely go back in the lab and can get himself re-planted again. Had the league lasted another few weeks, he could have ended up like George of the Jungle here: