Virugambakkam Vikings!

Even before the TNPL (Tamil Nadu Premier League) began, it set a record: For sending the maximum number of info alerts and press releases to media persons. And it was at the rate of — this is a conservative estimate — 200 per hour.¬† By the time the tournament peaks, most of the sports journalists in these parts and a non-sports journalist (me) would have been wrung tired just attending to these messages. And there is no escaping them, if you block them on WhatsApp, they show up on email. But if you mark them to the spam bin, I suspect, they will hire crafty homing pigeons to deliver you updates.

Q: How often do they send you alerts?

Ans: More often than your DTH company does when your subscription is up for renewal.

And pray what info do they keep sending?

Tuti Patriots to practise at 8 a.m. tomorrow”, your WhatsApp Messenger will announce, and before you can so much as read them, it will be followed by, “Tuti Patriots will leave the team hotel by 7.30 a.m.”, and then it would not stop:

Tuti Patriots will step into the bus at 7. 25 a.m.”.

Tuti Patriots will alight from the bus at 7.55 a.m.”

Tuti Patriots will spend 7.56 to 7.58 a.m. doing nothing”.

“Tell us the truth. When you first heard the name Tuti Patriots, you sure laughed”.

“During the practice session, Tuti Patriots bowlers will bowl”

“During the same practice session, Tuti Patriots batsmen will bat”.

Tuti Patriots anagrams to Tours a Tit Pit”.

Okay, I am exaggerating. But only just because just now they sent a release saying camera persons (photo journalists) should not come without a camera. Anyway, for those still not logged into what TNPL is and what on earth are Tuti Patriots, well, here is a quick lowdown:

TNPL is the Tamil Nadu-centric T20 tournament that gives the much-needed platform for exciting and enterprising former Australian cricketers to play the role of coach/mentor which they seem to perform by posing for selfies.

Away from individual teams, the TNPL brought in the former explosive opener Mathew Hayden as some kind of mascot and drummed up support for the cricket tournament by having him watch — why not? — Kabali. That is a tad unfair. To be fair, he also did his bit for the TNPL by visiting Iruttukadai Halwa shop.

We will try this one more time: TNPL is the Tamil Nadu-centric T20 tournament that boasts of top-notch talent like R Ashwin, Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay, M Ashwin, Baba Aparajith, Vijay Shankar, most of whom will not be seen in action for much of the tournament.

Seriously, many of these players, who are marquee names for the various franchisees in the TNPL, have been chosen for the ongoing Duleep Trophy, which they have been ordered to give priority to. So does this mean the Duleep Trophy, being a longer version of the game, is being given the right amount of prominence by the BCCI? Well, it is debatable whether the mandarins in the BCCI actually know under which format the Duleep Trophy tournament is being played. Left to themselves, they would trade Duleep Trophy for a T20 tournament between India and Sri Lanka in Outer Mongolia. The BCCI wants the selected TN players to focus on the Duleep Trophy (and not the TNPL) because the TNPL is a T20 tournament that is organised by the company owned by N Srinivasan, who is now a persona non grata in BCCI administration. If tomorrow — and you can’t rule this out — Srinivasan is back in favour, these same players would be asked to focus on the TNPL even over national duties. And they would. Cricketers, in general, are Indian sports’ performing fleas.

Be them as they may, TNPL, through the 8-team cricket league, hopes to provide TN districts the pride of owning T20 franchisees with absolutely laughable names. Granted this naming business is tricky, and world over, across sports, teams end up having funny names. Still, to christen a team from Dindigul as ‘Dragons’ is extremely silly, unless otherwise it has reached the stage where Dindigul locks are now actually Chinese-made. My home town Madurai has rightfully gone for the title ‘Super Giants’ based on the fact that every other stupid cliche in the business has already been taken. No wait. Apparently, there was one another stupid title and was promptly taken by Chennai. It is, of course, ‘Super Gillies‘. In general, if ever there is a moratorium on the use of words like¬† ‘Kings’, ‘Warriors’ and ‘Super’, a lot of franchisee-based leagues would come unstuck.

As we wind up it is also being speculated that based on the success of the TNPL, T20 leagues can get even more micro. In that there can be an in-city tournaments with franchisees being carved out of individual neighbourhoods. In which case, I would want to own a franchise for my area in Chennai, and I am calling dibs on the name Virugambakkam Vikings (coach: Mark and Steve Waugh’s younger brother).

Whether we win the tournament or not, we are sure to get the support of sports journalists because we intend sending no messages.