Organic bananas and Bangalore Royal Challengers

He’ll almost certainly read this column so I’ll be careful how I say what I have to say about him, but it simply has to be said. I haven’t worked out the best way to tell him face-to-face, so this will have to do.

Roger, your obsession with the Bangalore Royal Challengers is unhealthy (and boring) and you don’t know nearly as much about cricket as you think you do!

I’m not sure how much time he gets to watch the game because he takes his position as senior tiller at my local branch of Woolies very seriously indeed, and he’s never afraid of doing a bit of overtime, but he is convinced that the Royal Challengers are as destined to win the IPL this year as India were to win the World Cup.

His affection for the Bangalore franchise began when Jacques Kallis was bought at the inaugural auction for a million dollars. It wasn’t just a South Africa ‘thing’, it was a Cape Town affection. But when Kallis was bought this year by the Kolkatta Knight Riders (for another million dollars) Roger’s loyalties became betrayals and stayed very firmly with the Royal Challengers. To hear him state matter-of-factly as he scanned my organic bananas that Kallis “doesn’t suit our style of play” left me speechless. Literally. “Our” style? He’s never been out of Tokai, never mind to India or Bangalore.

Not only does Roger believe that AB and ‘Cool Cat’ will lead Challengers to victory, but he believes that the Knight Riders are equally certain to crash at the first hurdle. “They are proven losers,” he says with complete confidence, swiping the yoghurt six-pack with derision. “They haven’t even been in a semi final in the first three seasons.” True.

I have stopped engaging with Roger these days. There’s no point. He’s always right. And he seems just as happy for me to listen and smile than he was when I would try and point out that the IPL was, in fact, a domestic tournament…or whatever.

But the Rogers of this world  are important and often reflect a far more widely held belief or perception. And sometimes, if there are enough Rogers, they can even influence the course of events. There are many examples of soccer managers buying over-rated or ‘has-been’ players because they were fan favourites.

So checked what the experts had to say about which teams were favourite to win the IPL. (The ‘experts’ when it comes to favourite and underdog, of course, are the bookmakers.) Despite being virtually guaranteed a semi final place with two group matches to play, Sportingbet.com had the Knight Riders at 13/2 on Thursday! That’s like saying they are a donkey in a race with three other horses!

Even when they won their penultimate match by thrashing Pune on Thursday night to guarantee a place in the knockout stages, they are still 5/1. Amazing.

Roger may be ‘right’ about KKR but he’s way off the pace according Sportingbet’s rating of the favourites – Mumbai Indians are 13/8 to win the tournament with the Chennai Superkings at 2/1 and Roger’s team at 3/1.

So if you weren’t particularly bothered about the outcome before, now you can support the glitzy Knight Riders purely because they are rank outsiders and everybody likes an underdog. Don’t they?

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