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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

All bets on as IPL "showers moolah"

In today's Australian Bruce Loudon reviews the IPL at the halfway mark.

A staggering $5.6 billion is likely to be wagered on the Indian Premier League competition, it was estimated yesterday, as a new survey showed that an astonishing 131 million Indians have been watching matches on television.

These latest statistics - published in one newspaper under the headline "IPL showers moolah" - came as detailed new performance tables disclosed that just past the halfway stage of the 44-day, 59-match series Australians Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh are firmly at the top of intricate assessments of which foreign players are providing the best value for money.

Watson heads the so-called MVP index, a collation of batting, bowling and fielding points. On 418 points, the Queensland all-rounder contracted to Shane Warne's Rajasthan Royals is way ahead of all the 128 other foreigners playing in the tournament - with Ricky Ponting, comparatively, listed in 110th spot with just 15 points.

A second so-called PV index, also published yesterday, lists the foreign players in terms of "value for money" and what each run costs on the basis of what they are being paid. On this index, Shaun Marsh, playing for a relatively paltry fee of $32,000, is at the head of the list, on $86 per run, with Watson, playing for a fee of $133,000, on $159 per run.

On this table, the disappointing performance by Ponting, playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders for a fee of $426,000, is listed as costing $7949 per run, though the cellar dweller on the index is South African Herschelle Gibbs, whose fee of $613,000 means that each run he has made for the poorly performing Hyderabad Deccan Chargers has cost $17,692.

Publications of the two performance indexes underlines, yet again, the importance of the financial aspects of the billion-dollar competition, with the leading business newspaper The Economic Times reporting estimates yesterday that $5.6 billion will be wagered in mostly illegal betting on the competition by the time it winds up on June 1.

Yesterday The Oz also published another piece by Loudon about the IPL's father figure:

Shane Warne, emerging as the father figure of the Indian Premier League, last night offered a helping hand to controversial spinner Harbhajan Singh and said he was ready to assist him in any way he could.

"Everyone has issues - on and off the field," Warne said when asked about Harbhajan, who faces a ruling today from the Board of Control for Cricket in India on his playing future after slapping fellow India player Shantha Sreesanth.

"He has admitted to his mistake, which is a huge thing," Warne said. "And when he returns to play for India, it'll be a different Bhaji.

"I'm ready to help Bhaji if he wants to talk about it, or in any other way," added Warne, the captain-coach of the Rajasthan Royals team, which leads the IPL table.

Warne's offer followed a statement by Ricky Ponting in which he said that after the slapping incident, "people should be making their own judgments about Harbhajan. He has again done something wrong."


Warne's status in the competition was reinforced yesterday with reports appearing in Indian newspapers that highlight the fluency he has gained in Hindi, as disclosed previously in The Australian.

He has also, according to a report on the front page of The Pioneer, assumed the Indian custom of greeting people with folded hands, saying namaste, when meeting them, even welcoming fellow players and Royals officials in this way.

"Warne maintains a notebook and notes down one new word daily," the newspaper reported.

"Other than Hindi, he has become a gourmet of vegetarian dishes."

One Royals player said, "mostly, he decides our vegetarian menu". This is the same player who on an Australian tour of India had cans of baked beans shipped in to avoid the local food.

Not all is sweetness and light, though, according to today's Times of India:

In an apparent bid to cut cost, the Kolkata Knight Riders team management today "politely" asked five of its players, who are yet to feature in the side's 14-member squad in any match, to leave the team hotel.

The players are Ranadeb Bose, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sourasish Lahiri, Yashpal Singh and Hokkaido.

One of the players said they were "politely given the option of either staying at the team hotel or going home".

"It was clear what the the team managment wants. Apparently coach John Buchannon [ sic] feels that he has found his set combination and had no need for the fringe players," one of the players said.

lick here for a video report.

And of course there's been the controversy over cheerleaders , though this seems to have gone quiet for now.

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