No, this is not a crusade against the shorter (not shortest with twenty-twenty around) version of the game. I think that there is enough for the purists to enjoy even in a fifty over contest where the joys of watching a fast-bowler operating with four slips is replaced by the meticulously planned run-chases and innovative stroke-play. I would complete the title with “…in the sub-continent and lets start with India”
Home Advantage?! Has always been an integral part of sport and more so this one because of its dependence on the actual surface. But our cricket board takes the meaning of this term to new levels. Imagine going on an English tour in the middle of their winter with temperatures nearing zero. Its kinda like that when you invite those blokes over to play in the month of April in forty-plus. Not to mention that the cauldron like design of our stadiums means ground level is easily 3-4 degrees warmer. Have a heart! Those have got to be the cricket conditions from hell! Why not just tie their hands behind their backs before letting ‘em on the field, might as well.
Crowd Support. Is a logical extension of the above, but with over 50K of us at any venue on an average and each one keen on making himself heard, it deserves special mention. We are, quite unequivocally, the most boorish spectators of the game. As I write this, M.S. Dhoni launches himself at a delivery so hard, his feet leave the ground and the force of the swing causes the bat to complete a full circle. Crowd yells with delirium. Of course, the fact that the ball only took a thick outside edge and trickled to thirdman for a single is incidental. The purpose of sporting arenas is to be able to watch sport being played at the highest level, to see an exhibition of skills that have been honed to near-perfection. And applaud them. Instead, we cheer wides and no-balls and maintain a sullen silence when the opposition’s finest unfurls a delectable cover-drive.
Mandira’zation. Those perplexed by the term, can read it as bastardization of the game. Started with the coverage of the 2003 world cup where Sony SetMax decided that the housewives and the ‘not-so-enamored’ by the game needed to be roped in and they did this by dumbing the game down to reduce it to a circus. And I’m not talking out of a hat, the man who dreamt up the concept was one of our guest-speakers in Advertising class at school and he accepted that the lovers of the game would’ve hated the coverage while at the same time pointing out that as cricket-lovers, we had no place else to go! For a nation that claims to be in love with the game, not many of us can differentiate between an on-drive and an on-switch. Call it being petulant, but it ‘sticks in my craw’ when I hear a debate about whether Veeru or MSD is the best batsman in world cricket on current form. Makes me wanna scream “Did anyone happen to see any of Ponting’s innings against SA?!” Might be plenty more reasons why cricket in India is fast losing its ‘viewability’…but these are my top 3.