Posts Tagged ‘20/20’

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Fare well to Farewell;Alvida, Dada

October 8, 2008

Fare well to farewell- Alvida, Dada.

Today’s(8/10/2008) entire sports page in the Times of India is devoted to Mr Saurav Ganguly’s retirement and deservedly so. Well, all the speculation about voluntary retirement in the media turned out to be true. It is only in the fitness of things that as the curtain draws on the careers of one of India’s best batsmen and perhaps greatest captain, he be given a commensurate exit. He has fared very well so far to earn such a farewell and one hopes that he fares well in what will turn out to be his swangsong series against the mighty Australians against whom he has waged many a battle.

I am reminded of a Television Show some years back where ex- cricketers Krishnamachari Srikanth, Mohinder Amarnath and well known cricket commentator Charu Sharma were discussing “How to drop a player gracefully?”. They could not come to any firm conclusion but concurred that while Sachin cannot be dropped because of what all he had achieved(70 plus hundreds in international cricket), the other senior cricketers deserved a dignified exit with graceful indications/hints in advance. Srikkanth seems to be walking the talk because this is his first major step as the new chairman of selectors.

I remember reading about what the Australians did with Steve Waugh. Waugh had failed to “cross the final frontier” of beating India in India in 2001 and would have liked one more chance. Since the Australians are ruthless, he got no such opportunity. They did not even allow him to play as a player(he was willing to give up the captaincy) in the 2003 world cup . He had to hang his boots as per the selectors bidding but they went about the process in a dignified manner.

Since in India, strong emotions are associated with cricket, there was bound to be speculation about the retirement of the fabulous four- Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly. The cricketers will always say that age is no factor as long as they are fit but from a country’s point of view, young players have to be groomed both for playing and leadership and a certain gestation period is involved because of which succession planning is necessary.. One of the reasons why Yuvaraj Singh has not got enough chances in Test cricket is because the middle order is filled with seniors. In retirement too, Dada is proving to be an apt leader ; the fabulous four have to be shown the door(gracefully) – Yeh, dil maange more( Younger cricketers)

It would not be out of place to mention here that one day, if the popularity so demands, test cricket too should be minimized or dropped gracefully in favor of 20/20 instead of breast beating over it as if it was some kind of holy cow. A country with a spiritual legacy should not shed tears over such matters and follow one of the tenets of spirituality- impermanence. Popularity apart, 20/20 has to potential to make the game global and also take it to the Olympics.

Coming back to Saurav, I will never forget what my father said when Saurav Ganguly decided to fight his way back after being dropped as captain and player and he had been captain for 49 tests. He said “This is like a managing director being stripped of his post and being told to try his luck again as a management trainee all over again in full public view”. I have read about how a cricket captain’s job is perceived to be next to the Prime Minsiter’s in the context of the following it enjoys in India. Saurav should be remembered more for mental strength and sheer resilience for his comebacks apart from unique leadership, graceful, southpaw touch and the towering sixes he hit in one-day matches. I had written a poem(of sorts) on one of his comebacks:-

The return of Saurav Ganguly(Click with mouse)

One can only say something like this while bidding goodbye:-

Pyare Dada,
Aapko na bhoolne ka karte hain vaada
Aapki leadership,mental strength aur resilience yaad rakhenge sada
Aapka silken touch or towering sixes pe ham hain fida
Australians ko dikha do dadagiri aakhri baar kehne se pahle Alvida.

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B.C.C.I OR B.T.T.I ?

June 2, 2008

The day after- After the IPL got over yesterday with Rajasthan Royals emerging as the clear winners, the Delhi times made an assessment of IPL in an article “Figuring out IPL”
It states “IPL will bring about Rs 12 billion every year in cricket. India’s total budget last year was Rs 4.9 million. BCCI will earn Rs 3.5 billion from the first year of IPL which is more than Rs 2.3 billion it earned in 2007. The forecasted profit of BCCI is a whopping Rs 43 billion for the next 10 years”. Almost seems that 20 overs cricket can support ofher forms of cricket just as cricket sometimes supports other sports in India. Other sports lack public support; the cricket administrators should see the writing on the wall and go for the form of cricket which the fans like the most- it is the public which makes cricket in Inida a popular sport and the cricketers demi-gods.

Since there is a lot of breast beating over the commercialization of the game, Sachin Tendulkar’s views on the issue are worth noting “ “I don’t personally feel that, you know, (IPL is) dumbing down the game. It’s just another version of cricket. Test cricket is there and then they started One-day cricket many years ago and One-day cricket has been a tremendous success and if the game is gonna get globalised in the form of IPL, then why not? It’s better for cricket,” he added in defence of the league that has been criticized for being too glamorous and money-centric.The criticism of money centric is as silly as our obsession with Nehruvian socialism once upon a time which liberalization has proved time and again.

A few days ago, Mr Lalit modi had mooted the suggestion that IPL should be held twice a year which the President of BCCI, Mr Sharad Pawar deemed impractical because of the tight cricket schedules. This like missing the wood for the trees. The so called commercialization of the game has become possible only because of its public support. Look at the advantages of 20/20 match- gets over in 3 hours with thrilling results as against 5 days of boring cricket with impending draws, can be played at night throughout the year(except winters) as against day time which is office going time, is assured of public support again and the possibility of going international as Tendulkar pointed out, grooms captains among players like Sehwag, Yuvraj, Harbhajan singh etc.

One wonders why anybody would like to watch Test or even one day cricket anymore which in any case used to be watched only when it became interesting(Tests). The TRP ratings say it all- it was a mind boggling 8.2 in the first two weeks, 8 at others and has always been above 5. Shahrukh Khan’s Paanchvi Pass has TRP’s of 4 and serials like Kyunki Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi TRPs averaged at 5. By all accounts , the IPL is Paanchvi Pass(Five star success) and the way it is going, it won’t be long before it replaces traditional forms of cricket and in the future, we shall say- Kyunki T20 bhi kabhi test/one day thi. Prominent journalists have written about how cheerleaders should be left alone and the moral police should not act as spoilsports; actually it is Test cricket which requires these cheerleaders and I doubt they shall be able to save that form of the game even if they choose to go all the way with their act.

Lalit Modi had also compared an IPL match to an entertaining Bollywood film which is bang on target because it does make a good substitute and is a good alternative. The public support for IPL reminds of the song from one of yesteryear’s greatest Director of Hindi films, the late Mr Manmohan Desai. A song from his film, Roti goes something like this “Yeh tau public hai yeh sab jaanti hai, public hai” . The cricket Administrators should read Peter Drucker’s “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” where there are several examples of company failures(bankruptcy) who fail to read and follow the market forces. That apart, management is about leverage- getting more for less which a 20 over match represents. I don’t think anybody can watch even the best of Bollywood films for five days; Test cricket is basically impractical and outdated.

Though too many matches can sometimes be a case of “Familiarity breeds contempt”, on the whole 20/20 are more practical and enjoyable and should be spaced evenly throughout the year and preferably with countries playing one another. 20/20 should be the rule and not the exception. So much so that the B.C.C.I should stand now for Boring Cricket Curbing Initiatives and convert its name to B.T.T.I- Board for Twenty Twenty in India.
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After writing the above, former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar wrote in the Times of India that while playing Ranji Trohy, he was used to empty stands but 20/20 had the kind of crowds that could prepare a player for the big picture occasion. Another article stated how families who watched matches in groups are going to miss 20/20. Cricket Adminsitrators should drop other forms of cricket the way Australians drop their cricketers ruthlessly– Saare Niyam tod dau, Test cricket khelna chod do.