DLF Maximum maxed out
The DLF Maximum has gone the way of Cornhill Tests, Coopers&Lybrand ratings, Pura Cup and the Fosters Oval. A glossy superficial thing – in this case the sponsorship of sixes hit in the IPL – has evaporated, leaving the cricket element naked of commercial message for a briefest moment before a new cloak, differently coloured and with a new typeface, is worn.
When I asked readers which cricket terms they would most like to be rid of, the DLF Maximum was nominated most urgently. It seemed to encapsulate the commercialism and hyperbole that repels some cricket fans from the IPL and makes other watch with nose pinched.
I’m sure the IPL has made other arrangements and not left the hit for six nameless but for the runs it scores. I do have a suggestion, perhaps not for this year’s tournament, but maybe 2014. This idea won’t generate a lot of cash, but could add to the theatre of the Indian Premier League.
A little background: it was the early 1990s and Ged, my erstwhile college opening partner, was doing something in the Army in the south west of England. His girlfriend ran a stable and her brother captained a village cricket side in Somerset. Ged was playing a lot of cricket for his regiment, but clearly wasn’t doing a lot of whatever had officially taken him with the Army to the south-west because, when not learning to ride, he found time to accept an invitation to play for the village side.
Ged was asked to open the batting. As he was about to trot to the middle, the captain had a word with him about a club tradition. Ged was in good nick and soon played a lofted drive that enabled him to envoke that tradition. He hesitated, was this a prank to make the army officer look a fool? But, with his batting partner nodding encouragement, while the umpire raised both hands above his head, Ged took the locals at their word:
Hey! Ho! Over she goes!
And from the boundary a chorus from his teammates, now on their feet:
More commercially minded folk than I will determine if this practice has sponsorship potential, but it trumps spectators waving cardboard 9’s when the boundary is cleared.
Cricketers’ compulsion to name and rename elements of their game requires no financial imperative. In the endless discussion of the game, there are new coinings, some of which, even if just in the local economy, become currency.
The Sunday village team I played for as a teenager welcomed back Johnny late in the month of May. Johnny was the local amateur football team’s star striker. He brought to the cricket club charisma, effortless athleticism – but more importantly – girls as spectators. I don’t remember him being an especially fine cricketer. He had a swift run-up, bowled off the wrong foot, with a fast arm, but no body in his action. But he was the star-turn and we liked the burnish he brought to our otherwise scruffy mob.
And he had authority in the matter of lingo. I was never sure if he abused that authority, but like Ged, I soon forgot that he may be teasing the rest of us. So, boundaries were ‘fish’. ‘Four fish’ we’d comment casually as one of our team belted a half-tracker to the fence. ‘Four fish’. Basic alliteration, but it stuck with me and was fostered, if never fully adopted, by my college team. It even made appearances on our old boys tours. ‘Six fish’ had an assonant quality, but never became the DLF Max of the Chilterns.
In my twenties I played cricket in South-East London. At my club, poor bowling belonged and would be hit “in de weeds”. The source of this expression was Dougie, an elegant, cigar-smoking Jamaican, who always seemed to me to be charming and of good mien. My teammates warned me, though, that Dougie had a terrible temper.
Knowing the originator of this term, I imagined balls being spanked into the tropical undergrowth surrounding a baked Caribbean cricket ground. Retrieving the ball would involve pulling aside twisted stems of thorns, leaves with stings and risk disturbing creatures that would bite with venom. On the grounds we played, hitting the ball “in de weeds” would mean damp nettles and bramble.
Dougie was in his 50s and was still playing regularly. He had the knack of slowing the game to his own tempo, without looking ponderous. I batted with him only two or three times and he was very encouraging – one of the few batting partners with anything worthwhile to say between overs. During one of these partnerships, I flicked a full-toss through the in-field. I turned for two, hesitated, miscommunicated, gained my ground and left Dougie stranded.
While I batted on, Dougie circled the ground, smoking his thin cigars. I had been warned of his temper and knew I was going to be subject to it. Once dismissed, I thought it better to apologise to him straightaway. I said my piece, very briefly. Dougie responded, “‘Man, you shoulda hit it in de weeds.”