Nov 6, 2011

God Save Cricket!

I am not finding cricket exciting these days. Not just me, but several other cricket fans across the world are developing a disconnect with the sport, which once even occupied their dreams. Such was the charm and beauty of this supposed gentleman's game that people (specially Indians) did not mind following the proceedings of a match even for five continuous days (test matches). But things have changed now. There is hardly any buzz around India-WI test series that starts today. Fewer and fewer fans are turning up for cricket matches in the stadiums. One Day Internationals, which were considered to be crowd-pullers, at least in India, have recorded dismal attendance recently (India-England ODI at Mumbai). This trend is alarming as attendance of spectators is already low in cricket stadiums outside the Indian Subcontinent.

What has led to this apparent lack of interest among cricket fans? Have they finally come out of the 'illusion'? Do they think cricket as a sport has not anything new to offer (Are the soccer enthusiasts grinning)? Not exactly. There is nothing wrong with the sport as such. Cricket and all its three forms (Tests, ODIs, T20s) are very wholesome and entertaining in their own special ways. In fact, cricket is the only sport that offers such variety to its followers, giving them a wide range of dishes, as per their tastes. A purist may take pride in the 5-day format and meticulously follow the technicalities of the game. A fan, whose life runs on time, can indulge himself in the T20 game after coming back home at 8 in the night. And for those who like fireworks along with some sanity can follow the ODIs. Then, where does the problem lie?

The problem, it seems, lies with the scheduling of the matches and the 'excessive' dose. If India's World Cup win ensured that madness for the game reached its crescendo, the subsequent West Indies tour proved to be a damp squib. furthermore, spirit of the fans touched an all-time low after India failed to register a single win during the disastrous England Tour. The problem is, India, after winning the world cup, should not have started off their campaign through a low-key WI tour. And England should not have come to India to play One-Dayers just a couple of weeks after hosting them. For months, it was as if India had only one task at hand, that is to play England and play England again. And now, India will host West Indies for tests and ODIs. Why have we spent the entire year playing West Indies and England? And not to forget, their was a CLT20 squeezed in between all this nonsensical drama.

So, scheduling is a clear problem. And this kind of unreasonable planning eventually leads to overdose of cricket or instigates the 'fatigue factor' among the fans. And also, one should understand that when we talk of cricket's dwindling popularity, receding TRPs of broadcasters, it mostly and primarily concerns state of the game in India. Because, whether you like it or not, Cricket's nerve center lies in this nation of billion people. Cricket's health is directly proportional to interest for the game in India, and the subcontinent in larger perspective. South Africa, Australia, England and New Zealand may be good cricketing nations but that cricketing culture is somewhat non-existent in these countries.

Cricket's woes have been further compounded by the shocking spot fixing controversy. Few days back, I read an article by Pradeep Magazine (Senior sports journalist, HT), where he drew an interesting parallel between sports and society at large. He said, its tough to imagine corruption-free cricket when money making and pursuit of wealth have become the main motto of society. The eventual fate of Butt, Asif and Amir should act as strong deterrence for youngsters. But in any case, it is the sport of cricket that has been tarnished and damaged beyond repair. A set of cynical fans will now look at every delivery with a certain degree of suspicion and every dropped catch or even a no-ball may excite them.

So where does the solution lie? At a time, when cricket is perhaps going through its sternest test, both on and off the field, the rescue act has to come through a moment of immense significance. There has to be a divine intervention, a masterly act that compels us to focus our attention back to those 22 yards.

No, we need not look heavenwards. A certain Indian cricketer, who bats for his country at No. 4 in Test Matches, holds the key here. Sachin Tendulkar's 100th ton would be the perfect antidote for all the ailments plaguing the game of cricket. Who cares about the West Indies or this test series for that matter, but time would come to a standstill when Sachin walks out to bat, most probably tomorrow. I am sure he would beat the insensitive Central Government, hell bent to score a hundred through petrol price hike, in reaching the magical mark.

We, the mortals, have always looked upwards in moments of crisis. And the Almighty has often responded in his own unique yet effective ways. I think, cricket lovers might just get their prayers answered, by their God,  in next few days.


  1. BCCI has almost made cricket a donkey-business.. matches, more matches and more matches !!

    I hardly felt anything bad or low when India lost to England in tests and ODIs there.. Saturation can take a toll on your performance, no alien fact..i thought with GOD completing his 100th century kuch fresh feel hoga but nevermind agla match sahi..but BCCI's management sucks (for tonnes of reasons)..

    ...glad u highlighted the match-fixing episode, i feel bad for Pakistan, they have made a mockery out of themselves... sad..

    ..needful note :D