The Indian Premier League (IPL) has achieved much in its short existence. Unprecedented viewing figures for what is essentially a domestic cricket competition and wealth for its protagonists, are probably the two most obvious feats. It also brokered a peace accord between two of the international game’s most avowed enemies, whose bitter feuding had lasted the best part of 15 years.
Harbhajan Singh had learnt how to get up Ricky Ponting’s nose even before he had started shaving. In his debut international series, at Sharjah in 1998, the firebrand 18-year-old off-spinner dismissed Ponting – the first of many such dismissals.
He then gave him a send off from point-blank range, provoking the reaction of a shoulder barge from the Australian batsman – the first of several such contretemps. “Ponting first needs to go and learn to bat against spin bowling,” Harbhajan once said. “I can get Ponting out any time.”
“I don’t care what he has to say,” Ponting said of Harbhajan, although he once had to testify in a courtroom as to the specifics of one pronouncement by the Indian spinner.
Then, thrown into an unlikely alliance by the dollars of the IPL, they hugged and made up. Well, hugged at least, when Ponting held a diving catch to dismiss Unmukt Chand off the first ball of his Mumbai Indians colleague’s over.
Peace in our time, thanks to the IPL. Cricket, lovely cricket.