Star Wars episode X: The IPL empire strikes back

"The force was always with us, you half-witted nerf herders" Debajyoti Chakraborty / ¬© Getty Images

The Light Roller can't have been the only one getting strong "Death Star" vibes when it was confirmed earlier this week that the 2020 IPL is, after all, fully armed and operational. Never mind the ongoing global pandemic, or that plucky rebel alliance known as the ICC, bravely attempting to smuggle through its own events in the face of insurmountable odds. Did anyone even hear a distress signal from the Asia Cup before it was blasted into Alderaan-sized pieces?

Not that we're likening the IPL governing council to the Galactic Empire, no, no, no. Although that said, we're fairly sure Disney* wouldn't completely pooh-pooh the idea of linking up one of its most coffer-swelling franchises with India's premium cricketainment extravaganza… "Imperial March" playing on the PA as the players come out, stormtroopers on cheerleading duty, Steve Smith doing light-sabre leaves with a genuine light sabre. Just remember where you heard the idea first.

Naturally, the BCCI is already hard at work on its grand construction project in space (to be filmed on location in the UAE). As we noted a few weeks back, when it became clear that an IPL window had been identified - despite a couple of international tournaments already being scheduled in said window - you didn't need Jedi mind powers to conclude what the outcome might be.

Sure enough, before you could say "I've got a bad feeling about this", the T20 World Cup was rounded up and frozen in carbonite until 2022. Soon, Sourav Ganguly - revelling in the role of Darth Dada - was threatening to spark a clone war by signalling the IPL Challenger women's event would be held at the same time as the more-established Women's Big Bash League. The 50-over Women's World Cup, scheduled for 2021 in New Zealand, has also been postponed, although there's no suggestion that the BCCI was involved here (it's probably just that another Lord of the Rings is being filmed there or something).

Meanwhile, over on the forest moon of Endor, the rebels are struggling to get their act together. Not only are they missing an inspirational leader since Shashank Manohar hung up his Princess Leia hair buns, they seemingly can't agree on the process through which to appoint a new general either. At the moment, a number of candidates have put themselves forward for the vacant role of ICC chairman, with every chance that Chewbacca or one of the more-recognisable Ewoks will end up beating Colin Graves, Ganguly and the rest to the post.

Resistance, basically, is futile. The IPL Starfleet is beginning to assemble, excitable franchise social media managers buzzing out in front like a squadron of TIE fighters - hashtag-heavy hype interspersed with occasional news of failed Covid-19 tests. Much like Star Wars itself, it's all escapist nonsense if you're willing to buy into the silly costumes and repetitive storylines. No judgement here if you're tempted by scoring a few runs on the dark side.


Even outside the blockbuster productions, professional cricketers around the world are getting back to the day job while having to deal with challenging new playing conditions. It's not always easy to follow the rules. Jofra Archer's trip home between England games last month resulted in him being dropped for a Test and issued with a stern warning about how he could have cost the ECB "ten of millions of pounds". Mohammad Hafeez's slightly more guileless bio-bubble breach - he cheerily tweeted a grinning selfie posed alongside a 90-year-old lady suspiciously lacking in Pakistan training gear - led to much sniggering and 24 hours on the naughty step. Which suggests that Hafeez's reputation as "The Professor" is either wildly overplaying things or an accurate reflection of his ability to judge what he could get away with.

Elsewhere, West Indies allrounder Fabian Allen was on the receiving end of a lockdown slap down after missing his connection for a charter flight into Trinidad & Tobago, which is hosting this year's CPL. "Unfortunately there was some confusion with his understanding of the flight details and he missed the flight," his agent said, which sounds marvellously euphemistic. Which was it, Fabian - asleep on the couch having forgotten the day of the week? Walked out of the house with full kitbag but no keys, wallet or passport? Doubtless the whole episode was very costly and embarrassing, as well as making Allen the first bowler in history who would have benefited from giving himself a proper send-off.

*ESPN and Star are part of the Walt Disney Company, which owns the Star Wars franchise. Star owns TV rights to the IPL

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