Mumbai: IPL 2 was big; the blog by Fake IPL Player was almost as big. At its peak, during the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty-20 cricket tournament, the blog saw around 150,000 visitors in one day (26 April), each spending 15 minutes on it. Fake IPL Player’s identity is still under wraps, but he’s all set to release his fly-on-wall book on cricket titled The Gamechangers. (It will be published by Harper Collins India). In an email interview, Fake IPL Player talks about his book, blog and IPL. Edited excerpts:
Do you have any new plans for season III?
The book hits the stores one day before IPL begins. At the moment, that’s the only thing on my mind.
From blog to book: The Gamechangers will be released a day before IPL’s third season starts.
What is your book ‘The Gamechangers’ about?
The Gamechangers describes what goes on behind the scenes of a high-profile cricket league. It explores a world of machinations and deception by the rich and powerful. Kings of Bollywood, glamorous starlets, cricketing demi-gods, business tycoons, everyone with his fist in the pie, with something to gain and a whole lot to lose. It shows how big bucks, bigger personalities, and fragile egos battle for supremacy.
Like the league itself, the book has several plots and sub-plots. An Australian coach conspiring against India’s favourite son, an insecure Bollywood star who will go to any length to win the tournament, two warring princes of Indian cricket staking a claim on the dynastic sword, a self-styled Caesar of cricket plotting his way to world domination. And upsetting the apple-cart is an evil anonymous blogger. The authorities hire a detective to hunt him down and take him to the cleaners. The hunt for the blogger forms a central part of the story.
What prompted you to start the blog? Did you think it would get this popular?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what prompted the blog. It could be a momentary lapse of reason or a bout of insanity. Or may be a few cases of beer too many. Over the years, I had collected a bagful of juicy stories about the world of cricket, which I sometimes shared with my close friends. For obvious reasons, they loved them. One evening, we were sitting around, drinking beer—me and three friends—when they expressed their desire to enjoy the stories in real time while the action was going on. The idea of the blog had (been) germinated. It was supposed to be a dirty little black book between just the four of us. I never thought anybody would even find out about it. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for the buzz it generated.
So, what made it popular?
I think the blog’s audacity may have shocked the wits out of everyone when it was initially discovered. After that, like a typical Bollywood potboiler, the blog had something in it for everyone—juicy stories for the voyeuristically inclined, humour for the entertainment-starved, information beyond press conferences for the cricket-crazy, intrigue, suspense and drama. I think it catered to most. The only thing missing was an item number.
I also think that the public is a bit tired of press conference reportage and PR (public relations)-trained sound bytes replete with clichés and jargons repeated over and over again. It’s got to a stage where people would gladly stand directly in line of a tracer bullet rather than live to hear Ravi Shastri say those words again. It’s common knowledge now that a lot more goes around. It’s just that they don’t hear about them from credible sources. In a quirky way, the blog was probably like a breath of fresh air.
But the biggest factor for its popularity was that it was Fake “IPL” Player. If it were any other cricket tournament, nobody would have bothered about the blog. I think IPL is by far the biggest reality show in the world. I can’t think of any sporting event in the world that comes even close to the kind of drama that IPL provides. Every match is a virtual soap opera unfolding in real time in front of everyone’s eyes. Every single day old rivalries are renewed, scores are settled and personalities clash, on the field and off it. This tournament has no dead rubber. It’s like Big Boss (the reality show), the difference being that this one has real celebrities and hardly any play acting.
What is the closest you have come to being found out?
I think there couldn’t be anything more absurd than Lordie (reportedly Sourav Ganguly) being questioned about his involvement with the blog. I mean, rubbing authorities’ noses on the ground is a leisurely pastime for the guy. To think that a tiger would overnight transform into a rat is a bit stupid. My sources had informed me that professionals from India had been SOSed and flown to South Africa to track players’ movements and identify the blogger. During most of IPL, I was living with the morbid fear of getting arrested (or something even worse) any day. To the extent that even a knock on my door by room service would send my heart racing. I kept my lawyers on speed dial. Thankfully, I had some tech support back home who managed to keep my IP (address) masked throughout.
How do you manage to get so much information, which is not available with anyone?
There’s a lot more information within the journalistic community than what makes its way to the morning newspapers. There was so much happening last year that it was shocking to see them not being reported. Some of the unreported stuff has found its way into my book.
Will you ever reveal your identity?
I never say never. But at the moment, I am pretty happy in anonymity.
Who gave you the most fodder for your posts?
And the winner is… Appam C****** (reportedly Sreesanth). He is literally a circus in motion. I think he presents an opportunity for a modern-day Freud to come to the fore and unravel the mysteries that lie between his two ears. The saving grace is that if there’s one guy he’s scared of, it’s his captain Prince (reportedly Yuvraj Singh). He’s the only one who can keep him in check, not even Cool Dude (reportedly Mahendra Singh Dhoni) can do that. I think that one line from Prince, “Attitude toh poora masala dosa ka deta hai, aur bowling appam jaisa karta hai,” propelled him to bowl that magic ball that castled Cool Dude.
Lordie is a guy who attracts conspiracies and controversies like shit attracts flies. I got a lot of dope from the stuff that was happening around him.
You seem upset with Indian cricket. Why?
Let me make the distinction here between Indian cricket and Indian cricketers. I simply love Indian cricketers. They are, by and large, a very good bunch of guys. Especially under Dhoni who, by the way, I think is a dude-and-a-half. Indian cricket (administrators), on the other hand, are a bit like George Bush, arm-twisting without grace and flexing their muscles vulgarly. Indian cricketers are doing their best to bring glory to the country while the administrators are doing the exact opposite, unfortunately with greater degree of success.