Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Great Indian Cricket Tamasha

With India winning the T20 World Cup in South Africa, came to an end two weeks of good cricket. It was good because teams were able to beat the Aussies, who were unbeatable in the ODIs, we beat Pakistan twice, and are the current World Champions. The same Indian team which was isolated for all the criticism in the world five months ago, is now the darling of every Indian. If you adored the team six months ago, you were a good-for-nothing fellow. However, today if you do not adore the Indian team, you are not patriotic. The same fans who demolished Dhoni's under-construction house, burnt effigies of players and bayed for their blood are now running around to get a glimpse of them. The players now find a place in every nook and corner of the house and nobody gets tired drooling over them.

The media had endless hours of news time dedicated to how World Cup 2007 (50-over version) has spelled dooms-day for Indian cricket. The same media is now drooling over the Indian team, again devoting endless hours of news time to every minute detail about the players' off-field life during and after the T20 Cup. Details to the extent of where did a particular players kith and kin position themselves during the final game were presented elaborately with the anchors and news-reporters dramatizing the entire piece of news. And at the end of all this, we came to know a lot lot lot more about players like Joginder Sharma, RP Singh, etc. But what did we come to know? We were enlightened about what Joginder likes to eat, where did he play in his bachpan, etc.
The unimaginative media-- both print and electronic-- hijacked Chak de India, the slogan meant for the hockey team and used it as if it was their own creation.

The sponsors, who were rethinking about their committement to cricket, are now back with their full financial might. Ready to pay unimaginable amounts to be associated with the Indian cricket team for a few seconds every day. Ask these sponsors to spend some money on research for the betterment of their company, and they will come back saying that they have not much funds to carry out research.

Finally, the BCCI. This governing body of cricket should be working for the welfare of the game and players. However, time and again it seems to be working for its own welfare. After the first round exit from the World Cup, it sought to discipline the players in an innovative way-- restrict their endorsements. They thought of scratching off the centralised contract system and pay the players on a per match basis, with bonus thrown in for every win. Now, after the team has won the T20 World Cup, it has announced centralised contracts for the team members with enhanced retainorship fees. A u-turn on its own position in less than six months.

The attitude of everybody-- fans, media and BCCI-- in this incident lacks professionalism. The fans do not professionally respect the players and the fact that they (the players) too can have a bad day in the office (exit from WC-2007). The fans get emotionally outraged-- if the team doesn't perform as per their expectations-- and get into a rioting mood. However, once the team wins a series or a major tournament, the same fans transform the devils into Gods.
The media too plays into the hands of fans' emotions. Instead of professionally reporting any cricketing event, they report it as if the tournament is an equivalent of World War 3. For e.g. WC-2007 used to be reported as War in the Windies. They report a single defeat as if Yudhishthir lost his kingdom to Duryodhan and every victory as if Arjun has killed Karna. Then there are those endless chat/debate shows, where even a player who has played just a single test match or ODI starts ranting on what the players feel, what should the BCCI be doing its job, how should Tendulkar play the hook shot, etc.

And finally the BCCI. Well, the less said about its professionalism, the better. I need not say anything as the over-enthusiastic media has already spent lot of air time and newsprint on this issue. But, after the T20 World Cup, nobody is bothered about the BCCI's method of functioning.

In the end, we all should understand that after all cricket is a game. Yes, I love it when India wins a match. I do not like to see India losing. But let us accept, this is a game, sometimes India will lose, sometimes it will win. However, we fans and media should not get to the extremes of adulation or rioting to prove our point. Congratulate the team on winning, support them when they lose. After all, the team is also made of humans. They have put in a lot of efforts to reach at that stage and are continuously putting in more efforts to remain there and progress to better stages.
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