What exactly is the point of New Zealand?

The below first appeared on the http://www.thefulltoss.com in February 2013.

When the Colony of New South Wales was proclaimed in 1788 the boundaries included “all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean within the latitudes of 10°37’S and 43°39″S”. Much to the annoyance of modern Kiwis this included all of the North Island and about half of the South Island. Indeed, New Zealand was legally (and administratively) a part of New South Wales (Australia) until 3 May 1841.

A 2010 poll suggested that 41% of New Zealanders are “open to the idea of becoming a state of Australia”. Respondents suggested that a merger would improve New Zealanders ease of travel to Australia, as well as their ability to defend themselves. TFT can only assume that the fear of a penguin invasion is a pressing political issue way down under.

Some Kiwis are sensitive about such talk, maintaining that New Zealand is not even part of the continent of Australasia, and that instead its belongs to the (submerged) continent of Zealandia. Some New Zealanders, it seems, don’t accept such things as the definition of a continent as a “land mass”. Indeed, rumour has it, they are petitioning the IOC for an additional Olympic ring!

On the sports front, New Zealand are ridiculous good at Rugby Union. Which has always struck me as odd, given that they are essentially a nation of Scottish immigrants with uneven tans. Why are they so good when Scotland have been so ordinary since the retirement of Gavin Hastings? The answer: Polynesians. Scientists believe that if it wasn’t for pacific island genetics providing high twitch muscle fibre then New Zealand would do worse internationally than Lithuania.

Which brings us neatly on to their current cricketing woes. Despite picking as many South Africans as England (they are canny, these Kiwi selectors) New Zealand were recently dismissed for 45 in a Test match. This despite winning the toss and electing to bat. The entire innings took less than 30 overs with only one New Zealander making it to double figures – Kane Williamson with 13.

The Kiwi’s only world class player is Ross Taylor, which is ironic really given the rugby theory cited above; Taylor is, of course, a man of Polynesian heritage. Despite his talent they recently sacked him as captain in favour of a man with more tattoos than Edinburgh Castle; as a result, Taylor withdrew from the team. However, as a better man than Boycott, the pugnacious Taylor has now returned – although one cannot help but feel the selectors have done the tattoo loving McCullum no favours. The situation reminds me of the dire and hopeless one Alex McLeish inherited at Nottingham Forest. It will not end well.

"The black Shane Bond"
“The black Shane Bond”

New Zealanders like to talk about the fragile Shane Bond. Not true: Kiwikind like to talk about the fragile Shane Bond a lot. I met an particularly fine example last week who described Malcolm Marshall – in my opinion the best bowler I have ever seen play – as “the black Shane Bond”. Have they forgotten that Bond only played a paltry 18 tests?

James Franklin, a much better example of Kiwi fast bowling, has played nearly twice that (and counting). This despite a bowling average of 40+ in ODIs – a record which has prompted him to turn himself, as a club cricketer might, into a batsman. His Test batting average – just for your information – is 20.71. He’ll bat at 6 against England nonetheless, because he’s the best New Zealand have.

On the bowling front, they still have the octogenarian Chris Martin (that fabulously crap number 11) and Jeetan Patel, who I’ve always rather rated – even though the Kiwis themselves maintain he is a poor man’s Xavier Doherty.  He has a Test bowling average of 46.

Consequently, for the good of the game of cricket, New Zealand should assume it’s inevitable long term position as a state of Australia. If not – in the interests of a fair contest – the MCC should send the Ladies team next time England are due to tour. Minus Charlotte Edwards of course; they’d never manage to get her out.


Douglas Jardine: the amateur with a professional’s zeal

Douglas Jardine

The below first appeared on the http://www.thefulltoss.com in July 2012.

One of the few positives of this rain-ravaged ‘summer’ is that it’s supplied additional opportunities to read.  After trawling through The Full Toss archives several times and despairing of the near weekly jibes aimed in the direction of England great Sir Ian Botham, I turned – sacrilegiously – to other work.

And I stumbled across an aspect of cricket history which I’d never really thought about before – but viewed down the years, struck me as fascinating.

Douglas Jardine – the man Australians still hate more than any other, more than fifty years after his death – was an amateur.

Douglas Jardine

Left-leaning readers will correctly observe that the distinction between amateur and professional cricketers – which continued in England until 1961 – was only partly one of pay.  Professional players mostly came from a working class background, whereas amateurs – such as Winchester College-educated Jardine – belonged to the upper and middle classes.

The dictum of the amateur-dominated MCC was that a gentleman ought not to make a profit from the game.  It was a different world,  in which it was customary for professional players to address amateur team-mates and opponents as ‘Sir’.  Professionals would be addressed by their surname alone.

The perception of amateurs as officers and gentlemen, and thereby leaders, meant that any team including an amateur would tend to appoint him as captain. This would occur even – and indeed often – when there were many better professional cricketers in the XI than the amateur.

For example, in 1924 Yorkshire appointed 46-year-old Major Arthur Lupton as captain of a side containing cricketing greats such as Wilfred Rhodes and Herbert Sutcliffe.  He had played only once for Yorkshire, sixteen years previously in 1908. When Lupton retired three years later in 1927, he averaged a horrible 10.34 from 88 innings, with a high score of only 43.  

It has been cruelly suggested to TFT that the sport of cricket would not see a captain sport such woeful numbers until its co-editor Maxie Allen took to the field as captain of the grandly titled St Anne’s Allstars Invitational XI in the early twenty-first century!

Lupton was very popular within the dressing room, although his influence on team tactics has been questioned.  In one magnificent story, with the Yorkshire score on around 400, Lupton strode out of the amateur changing room to bat.  A young professional rushed over, touched his arm and whispered: “It’s all right, sir. Mr Rhodes has declared.”

But I digress. Both Jardine the captain and Jardine the batsman were far removed from this bumbling image of the hapless style of amateur. In an era of uncovered pitches, he averaged 48.00 in test cricket and 46.83 in first class – and this despite his employment as a Barings bank clerk and occasional journalist, which inevitably limited his opportunities to practise.

In 1930, approaching 30 years of age and at his cricketing peak, Jardine played only nine first class matches –  fewer even than Dhoni and Gayle manage currently! It’s also worth noting, for the historical record, that this was an era in which Bangladesh were absent from the international schedule, while that other cricketing minnow – Australia – were a lot stronger than they are now!

Jardine is said to have been an excellent technical batsman, although naturally cautious and slow scoring – even by the standards of the day. However, like Alastair Cook, when the situation required he could score quickly. A hundred on his first tour of Australia in 1928/29 was described by Sir Donald Bradman as being “one of the finest exhibitions of strokeplay” he had ever seen.

During one innings of a match for Oxford University, Jardine was criticised for using his pads to stop the ball from hitting the wickets: within the laws of the game at the time but considered to be against the spirit of the game. It is an early example of Jardine taking advantage of a controversial innovation and perhaps foretells his adoption of the Bodyline tactic in the 1932/33 Ashes.   Bodyline, or ‘leg theory’, was not a new tactic: it had been tried sporadically in 1903/4. What was new was the extent to which it was employed – and the success it brought during that fateful series.

After his appointment as England captain for the 1932/33 tour, Jardine studied film footage of Bradman batting during the 1930 Ashes (during which the Australian scored an incredible 974 runs) and discussed potential counter-Bradman tactics with team mates such as fast bowler Harold Larwood.

Jardine settled on leg theory, and ironically the tactic seems to have worked against every Australian batsman other than Bradman. Putting the controversy of that tour to one side, the strategising, development and implementation of a plan for particular batsmen is something which most international sides do today. It is certainly not the captaincy of an amateur. It is a modern approach which reminds me very much of Woolmer, Buchanan and Flower’s England.

The more I read about Jardine, the more I believe that he would fit very well into the modern game, and indeed the current England team. Not least because he was born abroad (in Mumbai) and overseas birth seems to be a necessary qualification for England selection nowadays!

On his arrival in Australia in 1932 as England captain, he quickly alienated the Australian press by refusing to give team details before a match and being uncooperative when interviewed by journalists. Another modern device, and one which Alex Ferguson has mastered.

Statistically, Jardine is one of England’s most successful captains, winning nine of his fifteen Tests and losing only one. Ironic, given he would probably not have been appointed captain had it not been for the MCC’s amateur bias vis-à-vis the captaincy. Had he been an amateur at that time I suspect Wally Hammond would have been appointed captain in 1932. Indeed, Hammond was made captain in 1938 after ceasing to be a professional in November 1937.

I have only touched on the 1932/33 Bodyline tour here. If you would like to read more about that infamous tour which Jardine captained, successfully if not diplomatically, I thoroughly recommend the excellent Bodyline Autopsy by David Frith.

I’d like to leave you with these questions: had he been a professional, how much higher than 48.00 might Jardine’s test average have been? Would he make the England team today? And if the amateur captaincy bias still existed, who would be England captain?  That well-connected banker Alex Loudon perhaps?

Magnifique or Sacre Bleu? Prince Philip leads our Euro XI

The below first appeared on the http://www.thefulltoss.com in June 2013.

Following England’s humiliation at the Eurovision Sing Song, we’re quickly becoming a right-wing lot here at TFT HQ (especially that Maxie Allen). Consequently, we do not believe either Britain or Ireland’s long term future lies in the EU. When UKIP and Nigel Farage inevitably win the next general election, Britain’s exit from the EUSSR will shortly follow. This will finally prevent the European Commissar for Cricket from regulating the number of fielders we are allowed on the leg side.

However, what would this mean for the future of European cricket? If it ends the continent’s association with a game we invented simply to bamboozle The Frogs, at least the following legacy would be left ….

Here’s our greatest ever EU XI (according to us):

Paul Terry (Germany)

Paul Terry was born in Osnabruck, Germany, in 1959 and was given the rather unfortunate first name: Vivian. It is uncertain whether this first name was a contributing factor in his awful Test Batting average, which was a Chris Martin-esque 5.33. It’s our view that that feared West Indian bowling attack of the 1980s was probably more of a factor, particularly given the broken arm Terry sustained from a rising Winston Davis delivery. Terry retired hurt, but bravely returned to the crease late in the innings to enable Allan Lamb to score the two additional runs needed for his century. Paul Terry scored more than 16,000 runs in First-class cricket, mostly for Hampshire.

Michael Di Venuto (Italy)

Lolstralya’s new Batting coach is of Italian descent, and an Italian passport holder. Indeed, it was this Italian passport which enabled him to play county cricket for Durham without being classed as an overseas player. He has played for both Italy and Australia (in ODIs). Di Venuto was prolific at first class level, scoring more than 24,000 runs at 46.43. A better opener than Rogers or Hughes, Di Venuto is one of many Australian bats unlucky not to have been born a few years later.

CB Fry (Germany)

Charles Burgess Fry was one of those individuals you really disliked at school: brilliant at cricket, football (he played for Southampton and England), athletics (he equalled the world record for the long jump), and indeed everything else he turned his hand to! There is a famous story about Fry being offered the throne of Albania at a meeting of the League of Nations in 1920, however this seems to have been practical joke on the part of Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji (a Sussex cricketer and at the time India’s delegate to the League).

In any event, as the Europhiles amongst you will be quick to point out, Albania is not part of the European superstate, and so Fry could not qualify for this XI via that route. Instead, due to his Nazi sympathies (and my being very short of batsmen!), he qualifies for Germany. In 1934, as reported in his 1939 autobiography, he visited Germany with the idea of forging stronger links between the Boy Scouts and the Hitler Youth. Fry met Hitler and greeted him with a Nazi salute.  He also tried to persuade “von” Ribbentrop that Nazi Germany should take up cricket to Test level. Regardless of his politics, Fry was a fine cricketer, averaging over 50 at First-class level.  He played for, and captained England. He is related to Stephen Fry, according to television show QI.

Ryan Ten Doeschate (Netherlands)

On discovering that he needed a 2 week break from county cricket to recover from the rigours of the IPL’s comedy cricket, we debated dropping Ten Doeschate from this XI. However, we are very light on batting and the South African of Dutch ancestry somehow manages an average of 67 in ODIs (from 33 matches). Holland must play Australia a lot.

Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark
Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark

HRH Prince Philip, captain (Greece/Denmark)

Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark on the island of Corfu, Cheam educated Prince Philip was (and perhaps still is?) a keen sportsman and dashing middle order bat. A useful medium pacer, he once managed figures of 9-0-25-1 against a Hampshire XI, footage of which is available here. Given his strong opinions and famous wit, TFT suspect the Prince Consort would also make a first-rate sledger!

Bruce French, wkt (France)

Given his surname, TFT are confident Bruce French has Gallic ancestry. Probably Huguenot, but possibly dating back to an invasion by William the Bar Steward;  we’ve not thoroughly researched this one however, so please do not quote us on it. French was a fine wicketkeeper, who would have played many times for England had it not been for the great Jack Russell. He coaches Matt Prior, the England wicketkeeper.

Moises Henriques (Portugal)

Funchal born Moises Constantino Henriques, the greatest Portugese cricketer of all time, plays for Australia. His father, a professional footballer, moved Down Under when Moises was one. An allrounder, Henriques averages an impressive 30.66 with the bat and 28.33 with the ball in First-class cricket. Trevor Bayliss says he is as good as Mark Waugh. Trevor Bayliss is wrong.

Ashey Giles (Spain)

Always an ambitious man, the full extent of the Warwickshire tweaker’s aspirations were revealed in 2004 when his county issued mugs detailing Ashley Giles’ claim to the thrown (sic) of Spain. When the coup d’état failed, El Gilo claimed it was a misprint – apparently the mugs should have read “King Of Spin”. Neither TFT, or Juan Carlos I of Spain, believed him.

Dirk Nannes (Netherlands)

A superb skier, who narrowly missed out on selection for Australia’s Winter Olympic squad, Nannes describes himself as an “accidental cricketer”. A genuinely quick left arm pace bowler, he made his first class debut at 29 in 2005, picking up 93 wickets at 25 in less than three years of first class cricket. After impressing for The Netherlands in Twenty20 cricket (Nannes has Dutch parents and carries a Dutch passport) he was picked for Australia and played both Twenty20s and an ODI.

Ole Mortensen (Denmark)

I remember seeing Mortensen bowl for Derbyshire against my beloved Worcestershire in the early 90s, and would like to stress that he was a lot better than that Dane who played for England: Amjad Khan. A first class bowling average of 23 (compared to Khan’s 31) would seem to back this up. I recall “Stan” Mortensen being a quick who managed that strange combination of tirelessness and visible exhaustion that Angus Fraser was famous for. I’d be interested in any Derbyshire fans’ memories of him?

Jon Traicos (Greece)

Athanasios John Traicos was born in Egypt, in the superbly named Zagazig. However, as his first name suggests, he is of Greek decent, his father having been born in Lemnos, Greece.  He was raised in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) and learned his cricket there. While still a student at the University of Natal, Traicos was selected for South Africa, playing three Tests before South Africa were banned from international cricket. Traicos represented Zimbabwe at the 1983 World Cup, and when Zimbabwe were granted Test status in 1992, was selected for that country’s inaugural match. This appearance came a record 22 years and 222 days after his previous Test appearance. John Traicos was an Off spin bowler with a bowling average of 34.6 in First-class cricket. His best Test bowling figures were 5/86.

Have we missed anyone out? All suggestions welcome.

Cricketing Jocks – Scotland’s best cricketers

The below first appeared on the http://www.thefulltoss.com in February 2013.

Despite a small population of only 5.25 million, the skirt-wearing and heavily freckled angries who live north of Hadrian’s Wall have produced many great footballers, three of the best managers in the history of that sport, and some wonderful rugby players. Their contribution to cricket has been modest however.

With this in mind the cricketing sophists at TFT HQ have put together the following XI of Scotland’s greatest ever cricketers:

Mike Denness – Unusually for a Scotsman, Lanarkshire lad Mike Denness captained England on nineteen occasions, before being fatally undermined by Geoffrey Boycott (who sought the captaincy for himself).

After Denness was appointed captain, Sir Geoffrey threw a tantrum which even the most sour-faced of Scots, Alex Ferguson, would’ve been proud: he declared himself unavailable for selection and effectively left his teammates in the lurch. In the absence of its best player, England were, perhaps inevitably, hammered in the Ashes.

According to his autobiography, Boycott had “no confidence in Denness’s professional ability and no respect for him”. Talk about calling a spade a spade.

Being disliked by Sir Geoff is reason enough for selection for this Scottish XI, however Denness was also a stylish bat who averaged 39.69 in Test Cricket. That’s not bad actually.

Hamish Marshall – As discussed in a recent piece on New Zealand Kiwis are essentially a nation of Scottish immigrants with uneven tans. Hamish Marshall is a fine example, and makes this XI on the basis of his superb cover point fielding and magnificent christian name.

Marshall is yet to play for Scotland, but averaged a creditable 38.35 in 13 Tests for New Zealand. In an era where New Zealand have struggled for competent opening batsmen, it is a tragedy he has not played more.

Rahul Dravid – The greatest player ever to play for Scotland, McWall – as he is fondly known in the pubs and Haggis factories of Argyll – played 11 times for Scotland in 2003 scoring 600 runs at a devilishly good average of 66.66. His best score was 129 not out, against Nottinghamshire. Predictably, Scotland still lost the match.

Douglas Jardine (captain) – The man Australians still hate more than any other was born in India to Scottish parents: Malcolm Jardine and Alison Moir.

Malcolm was a cricketer himself, captaining his (Scottish) school side and topping the batting and bowling averages. Douglas Jardine was proud of his Scottish roots, giving his children the quintessentially Scottish names Fianach, Marion, Euan and Iona.

And of course, it should come as no surprise that the architect of Bodyline, a fiendish tactic based purely on violence, was conceived by a descended of Groundskeeper Willy.

Tony Greig – The recently departed Grieg, who seemed to become more Australian as each year passed, was born in South Africa to a Scottish father. Indeed, it was through this Scottish connection that he qualified to play for England.

Greig is the team’s all-rounder, and spin bowler. For your own amusement, try saying ‘hard and fast’ and ‘right off the meat of the bat’ in a thick Scotch accent.

Arthur Conan Doyle – While most famous as a writer, Edinburgh born Conan Doyle was a keen cricketer, playing 10 first-class matches between 1899 and 1907 for Marylebone Cricket Club.

According to his Wisden obituary he could “hit hard and bowl slows with a puzzling flight”. He managed to dismiss WG Grace once – a feat no other member of this side can match – and was therefore an automatic selection. Grace was Conan Doyle’s only first class wicket.

Gavin Hamilton – Perhaps, due to one fateful Test, Scotland’s most famous cricketer.

Hamilton was selected by Duncan Fletcher for the first test of England’s 99/00 tour of South Africa. He scored a pair, “took” 0-63 with the ball and failed to take a single catch. He was dropped for the second Test, never played again for England, and – perhaps cruelly- had to requalify to play for Scotland. This took 4 years.

His form in domestic cricket dropped off terribly after his brief Test career, and – having originally been a pace bowler and competent late order bat – towards the end of his career he was playing for Scotland as a specialist batsmen. Picture Hamilton as a Scottish version of James Franklin.

Dougie Brown – Another man to represent both England and Scotland, Brown managed to dismiss Brian Lara during England’s 1997 tour of the West Indies. A feat rarely achieved on that tour.

He was a bits and pieces cricketer useful with both bat and ball but great with neither. He has succeeded the man TFT loves to hate – Ashley Giles – as coach at Warwickshire. (Ed: We don’t hate Giles … it’s impossible to hate anyone who’s physically incapable of either scowling or saying anything in the least bit contentious … or interesting).

Andy Goram - fined for playing against Australia
Andy Goram – fined for playing against Australia

Andy Goram (wkt) Most famous for keeping goal for Rangers in the 1990s, English born Andy Goram represented Scotland four times at cricket between 1989 and 1991. He was a left-handed batsman and right-arm medium pace bowler.

Goram was once fined by his then club, Hibernian, for playing cricket against Australia. He was also a more-than-competent wicket-keeper, and it’s in this capacity that he makes this XI.

Dewald Nel – England are not the only nation who nick decent looking cricketers from South Africa. Johan Dewald Nel was one of Scotlands first three professional cricketers, and has now played 110 times for the fried mars bar lovers.

He had a short spell for my team – Worcestershire – where he performed rather well, taking 4-74 against Yorkshire. Nel is a right arm medium-fast bowler.

Angus Fraser – Scotland’s greatest ever bowler, ironically enough, wasn’t even Scottish. Despite the superbly Scottish sounding name (apologies for the excessive alliteration), Angus Robert Charles Fraser is as English as Queen Victoria (sic) or, indeed, the game of cricket.

Nonetheless, this XI is in need of his metronomic pace bowling, and he therefore makes the team on the basis of “a Scottish sounding name”. England selectors take note, you could have recruited Graeme Smith or Malcolm Marshall on this same basis!

Have I missed anyone?

Tears on their Pilau – a post mortem of India’s test defeat to England

The below first appeared on the http://www.thefulltoss.com in December 2012.

‘In 1882, following England’s first Test defeat by Australia on English soil, a British newspaper famously published an obituary for English cricket. It included the brilliant line:

“the body [of English cricket]will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”. A group of Melbourne WAGs proceeded to burn some bails, and the noble Ashes were born.

India’s 2012 defeat by England, on home soil and despite many advantages, is a similarly momentous moment in the history of our game. Much was in India’s favour: they faced an England team which had proven itself desperately poor against spin bowling, under a new captain, and struggling with much publicised internal strife.

India, on the other hand, possessed the second best batsmen ever to play the game, wickets tailored to exploit their perceived spin advantage, and a DRS-free series (MS Dhoni has struggled with DRS reviews and Indian batsmen are said to benefit from its absence via the “benefit of the doubt” rule).

Despite all of this, and a Machiavellian plot by Indian administrators to ensure England faced no spin bowling whatsoever in the warm up matches, India were defeated at home for the first time in 28-years.

How was such a humiliation possible? Well, it turns out that their seamers are weaker than Afghanistan’s, their fielding comparable with the much maligned Pig & Parrot Invitational XI (the Outer Hebrides only pub team), and their spinners now poorer than Xavier Doherty.

How far must the nation of Bedi fallen, for us to be able to write such a thing?

Additionally, there has also been – to borrow the witty words of Cricinfo’s Sidin Vadukut – substandard batting, incompetent captaincy and fan angst at the teams failure to win a world cup since 2011.

Some Indian fans are responding to their defeat -shellacking may be a better term – by blaming the very ordinary umpiring of HDPK Darmasena. Granted, the man has had a poor series, and his status as the current “best umpire in the world” would seem to make as much sense as the BCCI’s stance on technology, but England have suffered from his errors too. Witness Captain Cook’s two awful dismissals in this most recent test.

Some have (quite reasonably) argued that India are desperately poor at the top of the order and that this is a crucial area in Test matches: the previously excellent Gambhir averages only 30 over the last 3 years, and Virender Sehwag is a 34 year old in a 54 year old’s body.

Personally, I’ve never liked Sehwag at the top of the order on the grounds that he cannot play swing bowling and – even when the man comes off and hits a brilliant 20-odd – this innings is so brisk, that the batsmen who must follow inevitably have to start against a new ball.

Virender Sehwag fails at the opening batsmen’s first task: to see off the new ball. At his best he would have been a superb, Gilchrist-like, late middle order batsmen. He is now far from his best. He looks like Inzamam U Haq, but without the talent. Or perhaps a poor man’s Dwayne Leverock.

Other’s are pointing out that India are a magnificent limited overs team. This may very well be the case, and India may well win their two Twenty20 games against a scratch England squad. But this is not really the point. T20 is comedy cricket. So what?

When it comes to Test cricket, the very pinnacle of our sport, India have been weighed, India have been measured – and they’ve been found wanting.

Enough is enough. The time has come to withdraw India’s test status on the exceedingly plausible grounds that they simply aren’t good enough. If the BCCI behave, and give all their money to a charity (a county championship div two side perhaps) we might readmit them – but only when they’re good enough to give Zimbabwe a game.’

IPL Team Names – A Confused Foreigner’s Plea

The below first appeared on the http://www.thefulltoss.com in April 2014.

Living in East Asia, I get an awful lot of IPL on television. And IPL highlights. And IPL re-runs.  And the IPL Champions Trophy, or whatever it’s called.

Leaving aside any snobbish and/or condescending opinions I might have about the quality of IPL cricket, I’d like to share my confusion at the IPL team names, which – the defunct Deccan Chargers aside – make less sense to me than those in the United States or Yorkshire (remember the Phoenix!). I see that they are supposed to be glitzy, but they are making me dizzy. Can anyone help?

Mumbai Indians

Why name a team after the nation it’s from? Is there another local team called the Mumbai Pakistanis or the Mumbai British? Is the team only made up of members of one ethnic group, in the manner of apartheid South Africa?  And most pressingly, why why why isn’t the team called Mumbai Sachin Tendulkar – we all know it’s his team in everything but name? I can’t think of another domestic team anywhere in the world which is named after a country.  Other than London Irish. And Argentinos (New York Yankees? Ed). It’s just not cricket. But then neither is Twenty20!

Chennai Super Kings

Clearly the team is named for either a brand of cigarettes or extremely large bed. Probably the latter, given how laid back Mahendra Singh Dhoni appears. Or perhaps Chennai were keen to illustrate that they were better than Punjab, but then everyone is better than Punjab.

Kings XI Punjab

My favourite team due to the efforts of Shaun Marsh in season one. I will not have a word said against them.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Named for Michael Knight and Kit, one assumes.  Who knew David Hasseloff was as big in India as he is in Germany!

Rajasthan Royals

Yet another monarch related team name. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

What!  Another!  See my Rajasthan comment above.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Firstly, “sunrisers” isn’t even a word. Secondly, this would make sense if Hyderabad were on the extreme east of India, and the sun rose their before anywhere else. But it’s not. Geographically it’s India’s Birmingham. I’m confused.

Perhaps the IPL team names were randomly selected? A bit like England teams when Ted Dexter was Chairman of Selectors.