May issue 2009

By | Sports | Published 15 years ago

The second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been a lacklustre affair, with anaemic crowds, the ten-minute ‘strategy’ time-out in the middle of each innings (a pathetic excuse to rake in more advertising dollars), the absence of top Australian stars like Ricky Ponting and, above all, the shift in venue from cricket-crazy India to a South Africa that is more concerned with preparing for next year’s football World Cup. It is hardly surprising, then, that cricket fans have sought entertainment beyond the boundary, mostly in the form of Fake IPL Player, an anonymous blogger with a penchant for trashy gossip, who claims to be a player for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

It took only two days after the IPL started for the blog to be discovered and disseminated far and wide. Another fortnight later, and still no one has been able to identify the blogger in question. Not that he hasn’t given any hints. He describes himself as a cricketer of below-average skills, a “no-hoper” in his own words, someone who is there merely to make up the numbers and doesn’t expect to get a game. But conspiracy theorists believe that he may have fabricated some of these details to conceal his identity.

His identity aside, it is the barbed nature of his posts and the juicy gossip he delights in passing on, which have brought some interest to the IPL. It takes a little bit of digging around to identify players based on his nicknames, but it is more than worth the effort. The Knight Riders’ owner Shahrukh Khan, portrayed as an opportunistic figure who is always around when the team is doing well but disappears from sight when the chips are down, nicknamed “Baadshah Dildo” (readers can figure out for themselves why he was bestowed that title), Shahrukh is described as a “megalomaniac”

The Kolkata Knight Rider’s coach, the controversial John Buchanan, in reference to whom Shane Warne once said, “The only coach I need is the one that takes me from the hotel to the ground,” also comes in for severe ridicule. His dependence on his laptop is mercilessly mocked, with Fake IPL Player suggesting that he may prefer to send his beloved laptop in to bat.

Even Saurav Ganguly (nicknamed Lord Almighty for his sense of entitlement) is not spared. His training regimen is mocked, as in the words of the Fake IPL Player, “He came, he saw, he jogged, he returned.” He later pokes fun at Lordie for castigating the fielding efforts of his teammates when he is the slowest player in the side. During one match, when a dog interrupts play by running onto the pitch, Fake IPL Player remarks, “Moves pretty fast this dog. Faster than Lord Almighty at least.”

All-rounder Ajit Agarkar (Kaan Moolo) is described as a “former Indian player who will remain a former Indian player for the rest of his career.” An incident is narrated where Shane Warne (described as The Sheikh of Tweak who enjoys the mammary lands) convinces three young girls to join him in his hotel room for the night. We are not told what ensues, but whatever happened, we can be sure that the controversy-prone spinner kept his texting finger free.
While the media has lapped up this gossip, they have not been too keen to highlight their own foibles, as told by Fake IPL Player. He claims that all the commentators had a $200 betting pool, to be won by the first person to bed a certain Indian presenter. The bet was called off when two commentators, one Indian the other Pakistani, both claimed they had won.

The Kolkata Knight Riders’ reaction served only to prove Fake IPL Player’s claim that the team’s owner and managers were control freaks. First they disallowed internet access to the players’ hotel rooms, for which the intrepid blogger found a workaround by SMSing his posts to his brother. Then, they started holding strategy meetings in secret and even reached a point where they were accusing Ganguly of being the mystery blogger.

It seems almost inevitable that the blogger will soon be outed and his IPL career will come to an end. Till then, millions of cricket fans around the world will enjoy his tales of the seamy underbelly of international cricket.

Nadir Hassan is a Pakistan-based journalist and assistant editor at Newsline.