Hari's Corner

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Gradual loss of interest in Cricket

Filed under: Sports by Hari
Posted on Fri, Jul 20, 2007 at 10:27 IST (last updated: Sun, May 24, 2009 @ 19:17 IST)

India's tour of England started recently, but I no longer have the urge to tune into my television set to catch the action live. In fact, I no longer even feel the need to read the newspaper to catch the scores. Somehow my interest in cricket has died a natural death. I guess it's something that has happened over a period of time and has been accelerated by certain factors.

One of the factors is, of course, India's dismal World Cup 2007 performance which is still fresh in memory. It acted as a catalyst in the process to be sure, but my disillusionment started way before that; in fact, quite some years ago. A lot of it can be attributed to the blatant commercialization of the game, compounded by India's pathetic performances in major tournaments over a decade and a half now.

The most disgusting development recently has been ESPN-Star's cynical, opportunistic move of starting a new "Star Cricket" channel, dedicated to 24x7 cricket coverage (hmm... does that sound familiar?) and the way they have effectively exploited the interest generated by India's England tour to charge viewers extra to watch India play overseas. People like me who have shelled out money to subscribe to ESPN and Star Sports (by their promise of Live cricket coverage) feel cheated and betrayed by the one Sports Network that offered professional coverage with a clear focus on the game, rather than hype and glamour. ESPN's move to fragment their audience in order to generate easy revenue is just a sad commentary on the current state of affairs where a genuine cricket fan needs to be subscribed to 6 or 7 Sports networks just to catch Indian cricket action in different parts of the world. For a long time ESPN-Star had the reputation of being a respectable and committed sports channel - standing apart from the blatantly opportunistic fly-by-night operators, but with this move they have completely ruined any goodwill or brand equity they might have generated over the years.

But take a look at what has been happening to Indian cricket in general over the years. When the advertisers started ruling the airwaves and channels felt the need to cut out parts of the cricket action to squeeze in more ads, when the BCCI started playing ugly battles with the television networks over telecast rights and the courts had to intervene on behalf of the hapless viewers, when insignificant television networks started winning the TV rights war and decided to go "pay" overnight in order to rob genuine cricket fans of live cricket and make money as quickly as possible, when cricketers started spending more time in ad studios rather than on the cricket field and when match-fixing scandals started getting quietly swept under the carpet in order to protect vested interests, I cannot say that this latest move by ESPN star comes as a surprise. In fact, it's in keeping with the order of things.

I am not really annoyed or distressed at this state of affairs as I used to be some time ago. It's more like a gradual, growing indifference rather than real anger. It is this kind of indifference among cricket fans that will really be dangerous to the game of cricket in the forseeable future. There will always be dedicated fans, of course, but I think that over a period of time, most Indians will see cricket merely as a shamelessly commercialized, excessively hyped professional sport and not elevate it to the level of a religion.

14 comment(s)

  1. Even I dont follow cricket on a ball by ball basis...Some headline news like who won, who lost is enough for me , for basic GK...The proposed Rs 500 per year tax on televisions is in line....

    Comment by Shrinidhi Hande (visitor) on Fri, Jul 20, 2007 @ 10:31 IST #
  2. Hm... Shri, what is this new proposed tax? I haven't read or heard about it...

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Fri, Jul 20, 2007 @ 10:33 IST #
  3. Well the news is that Govt is proposing imposing Rs 500 per year as a license fee (or whatever they call it) on every colour TV and Rs 200 on B&W...Yet to become a law and more details are unknown at this moment...

    Comment by Shrinidhi Hande (visitor) on Fri, Jul 20, 2007 @ 10:57 IST #
  4. link to related news:Times Of India article

    Comment by Shrinidhi Hande (visitor) on Fri, Jul 20, 2007 @ 11:06 IST #
  5. Thanks for the link Shrinidhi. I've edited your link text to make it more readable.

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Fri, Jul 20, 2007 @ 11:47 IST #
  6. same pinch hari! :cry:

    Comment by Logesh TamilSelvan (visitor) on Fri, Jul 20, 2007 @ 19:17 IST #
  7. Logesh, they're now showing Star Cricket (on CAS). I didn't ask my cable operator so I wonder what prompted them to show the channel.

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Sat, Jul 21, 2007 @ 18:23 IST #
  8. yeah i too noted tht...its just an action related to TN GOVT's message on PUBLISCISING CABLE TV'sanyway namakku velai nadanthaa seri :razz:

    Comment by Logesh TamilSelvan (visitor) on Sat, Jul 21, 2007 @ 20:13 IST #
  9. Too bad, Logesh. The politics of cable TV in our state doesn't bother me any more. The CAS was the biggest fraud of the century, but at least we have some channels to watch now. If we go back to the old system, it will be even worse.

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Sat, Jul 21, 2007 @ 22:20 IST #
  10. [...] (April 28) and I hadn't really felt too keen on continuing to write about cricket (as I mentioned just recently). It takes a lot of effort to find an audience for niche blogs like this, particularly when you're [...]

    Comment by Hari’s Corner » “Back Foot Drive” is now closed (visitor) on Tue, Jul 24, 2007 @ 11:27 IST #
  11. I guess it's fair to say your not too happy with the result of the first Test match in Melbourne.
    Based on that game, some observations...
    India can bowl well.
    India's fielding is wel below standard.
    India's batting has lost it's bravery.
    India's team managers and staff are bad organisers.

    Let's hope they are more organised for the 2nd Test and that they change the opening batsmen.

    Good luck

    Comment by John (visitor) on Sun, Dec 30, 2007 @ 01:58 IST #
  12. Hey mate, look at the date of this post. This was written a long time ago.

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Sun, Dec 30, 2007 @ 10:45 IST #
  13. I know.... and a half a year later it just shows that the Indian Cricket team are slow learners.
    Sorry I dared post on your blog and will remember not to do so ever again... "mate"!

    Comment by John (visitor) on Sun, Dec 30, 2007 @ 10:54 IST #
  14. How was I to know? You needed to clarify that in your post. You wrote this as though I had written this in response to India's recent performance in Australia when it is clear that it is not...

    You're too touchy if you take offense at my pointing that out.

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Sun, Dec 30, 2007 @ 18:54 IST #

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