Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Why is there such a hue-and-cry about some cricketers getting caught accepting bribes? News channels covered it as though no one had heard about fixing. I don’t think any one should be surprised. The whole point of IPL is to make money. The promoters are making money, BCCI is making money, the sponsors are making money and so are the cricketers. And some of them were stupid enough to do it illegally and get caught.

I am sure most of you know how the IPL auction works. Teams bid for players in an open auction and the highest bidder wins. As in any other auction there is a base price set for each player and bidding starts from that point onwards. The interesting thing here is that the base price changes if an uncapped player plays even one international match. Any match – be it T20, One-day or Test. And the base price increases in direct proportion to which  type of match he’s played. Overnight the base price tends to go up – by an order of magnitude. You can say the cricketer deserves higher remuneration. Yes getting into the national side is no mean feat. But once done he can continue playing in the IPL and make far more money than he ever will at the international level. Goodbye national pride.

The scope of IPL is massive, financially. At the auction itself $ 1,285,000 was spent. But this is only a fraction of the total spend on the ‘extravaganza’. Think about franchisees paying BCCI, advertisers paying franchisees and broadcasters paying BBCI for telecast rights. There is no scope for the entire process to be completely legal. Has anyone investigated where the franchisees source their money from? Is it all ‘white’? It is difficult to believe all the money circulating in IPL has been accounted for by the IT department. I, for one, always find something fishy about where so much money comes from.

Various people have written alarming (for some anyway) pieces about the death of IPL. May be the old adage of ‘one bad fish spoils the pond’ stands here. But in all probability it does not. IPL is too big to affected over the long-term by something like this. Its sheen may wear-off (hopefully!) but in cricket-crazy India there will always be people who will follow this come what may. For a short while they will be cynical. Whenever someone drops a catch, the reaction will be “pata nahin kitna liya hai drop karne ke liye!!” (don’t know how much he’s got to drop that catch!!). Likewise if a team loses miserably there will be arguments on whether they were paid to throw the game away. They will be angry but again for a short while. As it always happens things will die down and TRPs for broadcasters will return to their normal levels.

Besides the franchisees and sponsors have invested too much to dial it down now. There will be investigations, committees, piece meal action. There will be action against some, some will be let go due lack of evidence. New laws may get enacted. The BCCI itself can only ban players from playing ever again. But that’s about it. Unless there is solid proof like phone records, even this may be improbable. Another set of blogs will be written (like this one :-)) stating why they are for or against the actions taken. But death of IPL, naah!

However, it will not clean-up the game or the organisations involved (come on, do you really think BCCI is not part of some nexus here?). Notice that there is no doubt or guess here. It won’t happen. Perhaps this a very bleak outlook but there it is. People involved in IPL are a cross-section of Indian society. There is no point trying to think IPL and cricket are immune from the plague called corruption which infects this society. Unless the society as a whole says  no to corruption, IPL will not be clean.

Cricket-itis

Posted: April 21, 2013 in Sports

I suffer from a rare affliction, which I call Cricketitis. The medical community can diagnose its symptoms very easily, especially in India. It manifests itself as an abject boredom and disinterest with following cricket, in any media. The incubation period can be quite lengthy and it may take years for the condition to reach its final stage. Unfortunately there is no known cure. I will only have to harden my will and hope my family will still love me despite my condition.

I used to follow cricket regularly and sat watching matches whenever they were telecast, at whatever time. I remember sitting and watching a India-Pakistan match on the eve of my 10th standard mathematics exam. It was a close match and I sat there chewing my nails [I don’t chew nails per se but its a nice figure of speech :-)] before a boundary won us the match. I read books on cricket and cricketers, read opinions in daily newspapers, idolised ‘the Wall’ and argued with classmates on why he was the best. I was elated when the boys in blue won and got frustrated and angry when they didn’t. Ah, the good old days!

The first signs of impending trouble coincided with the first season of IPL. Cricket suddenly looked like a movie with scripts, superstars, theatrics and drama queens. I didn’t manage to watch even a single IPL game, even in the first season, fully. I persevered with watching One-dayers and Tests (of course Dravid had not retired yet!) for another couple of years. By the time the World Cup happened in 2011, the condition had reached the final stage. I got incontrovertible proof of this when I decided to go have dinner in a popular restaurant during the World Cup final, simply because it would be easier to get a table and parking!

Two years on I have learnt to live with it. I do not get into conversations about cricket and do not worry too much when two-bit players are ‘auctioned’ for a few millions during the annual IPL tournament. I do have hope, however, that society at large will become aware of this and be show some empathy towards the sufferers. I have come to recognise that there are other things I can do with my time. What if one counts the number of matches India plays in a year, multiplies that by the number of hours in each game, and that by the number of people who match a sizeable portion of each game? How many hours would this be [this will be an enlightening statistic]? And what if India diverts its attention, talent and ability in another direction for even half this many hours? Where would that take us?

I have learnt now that my wife does not care that I don’t watch cricket and I have not become an outcast because I do not know who won the last IPL season. Ah! Cricketitis seems to be bliss.