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Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Men Who Sold Cricket



Third Man writes:

All good men who love sport and cricket say privately they don't like the shape of things that the IPL promises. The IPL's biggest success is that it's turned sport into a commodity like never before, and venality into a widespread practice.

Big money, to be made or lost, ensures silence.
Those of you who are going bananas over the Indian Premier League may not like this, but the Third Man has a good mind to don a red shirt and turn into an anarchist. Only the direst incendiary acts against the IPL would satisfy the Third Man. Why? Because this is not cricket – this is ego massage and money-making in the most lurid form.

The cricketers are commodified like never before. The basis of the IPL is not sport, it's money. A team owner like Vijay Mallya can wrathfully declare that "unfortunately, in cricket, unlike in any other sport, the captain is the boss". What, does he pretend that he knows cricket more than Rahul Dravid, whom his flunkeys in the media are slandering for not picking the right team? Dravid's worst cricketing strategy would be better than Mallya's best. It's easy to be wiser after the event – in February, Mallya had declared grandiloquently that he'd got a very good team.

Mallya lacked sportsman's spirit

In sport, victory is not a given; in T20, no respecter of reputations, iconoclasm is the essence. Mallya, surly in defeat, refused to go the Man of the Match ceremony after the games his team lost. Rich in spirits, he's lacking completely the sportsman's spirit.

All good men who love sport and cricket say privately they don't like the shape of things that the IPL promises. The IPL's biggest success is that it's turned sport into a commodity like never before, and venality into a widespread practice. Big money, to be made or lost, ensures silence.

Media, the tireless crusader of the IPL

The media has turned into a cheerleader for Lalit Modi's money-making enterprise. Newspapers in Delhi devote a good two-three pages to the IPL. Only marginal, weak voices speak of the massive frauds inherent in the concept of the IPL. It's turned into a family enterprise, and contracts and sub-contracts are handed out to cronies and sub-cronies. Indian Express reported this a few days ago, but others just talk in hushed tones – the possibility of loss of advertising has turned editors into submissive errand runners of the marketing people.

The day of the strong editor is long past. Would you know the name of the editor of the Hindustan Times or the Times of India, for instance?

Third Man bumped into the editor of a Delhi paper during a game; the man blithely declared, without a trace of a blush, that the "whole thing (his paper's coverage) is being run by the marketing folks". Perhaps freedom of press is just a joke, and was always a joke – you write what the owner wants you to write, or you buzz off.

Just a carnival

Sombre thoughts, but the way the media has turned the IPL – which is just a carnival with little or no serious cricket – into something massive is just disgusting.

Some of you might say that the Third Man is furious only because no IPL crumb has been thrown at him; perhaps you would be right, for moral resistance is frequently inversely proportional to temptation.

That may be so, but the fact is that any kind of cricket that makes Dravid and VVS Laxman look like fools is not worthy of the serious fan.

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10 comments:

Parth said...

Dravid, not Mallya, was responsible for hiring a crap team. As a businessman investing millions into the team, Mallya has the right to demand explanations — but to belittle Dravid publicly at a delicate moment was obnoxious.

Shivam said...

Welcome to the 21st century!

Lallan said...

mallay sholdnt have done what he did.

Bird and Buffalo said...

Dravid is not doing charity. He has taken the money and tons of it. He better deliver or quit. We know he can stoop to the levels of shaving his armpits publicly for that. Only Gillete spared him the ignominy and stopped with the beard. He is grossly overrated player in any form of cricket. If there is any rule change wherein you get maximum points for spotting the fielder, then Dravid should be made the captain. If not he would be better of shaving beards in public or rather for the public.

The Not So Talkative Man said...

I can't make up my mind if this illustration is an affront to Dravid or Rekha.

Ayan Chakraborty said...

"...any kind of cricket that makes Dravid and VVS Laxman look like fools is not worthy of the serious fan" - May be. But it is absolutely not necessary that if they fail to adjust to this form of cricket, the fault lies with the format itself. Just consider Ganguly for instance. He has always been vulnerable against shortpitched stuff, particularly in test matches. If he looked like a fool on those occassions dosen't mean that the batsman/test cricket/bouncer-happy fiery pacers are "not worthy of the serious fan".

But anyways, we shouldn't mix up serious fans with purists. And all said and done, someday we can well see stumps made of 24carat solid gold being used in IPL matches.

Cheers!

Sri said...

As all of you said Dravid is also doing it for Money. He is not doing it for the luv of cricket, so he should deliver. Moreover, he has opted out of T20 world championships saying that it is a yound man's game, then why he should he opt for it now. Surely in one year he has not become younger.

sursuri.com said...

Aryan: If we have stumps made of gold, then we would have an interesting contests to see who grabs the stumps first after the match! That could be a whole new competition.

Prateek Vijayavargia said...

Vijay Mallya shud not have cribbed in public abt the Team and Dravid....I quite agree that he lacks Sportsman spirit. Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Sachin and Ganguly are all world class players.......Dravid has done very well in the tournament....But his team has faltered.....They have been unlucky at times 2....U cant really blame Dravid for this...He is one of the greatest players for India....U cant challenge his commitment or say things - that he is doing this for money.
We all know Laxman dropped the Icon Staturs willingly so that more players cud be bought by the Deccan Franchise.....Its sad that we are blaming the players...This format is a "luck" one..

Third Man said...

One reflects and then writes - but invariably, writing is followed by more reflection. I wrote of the weak editors being silenced into submission by the marketing people, but the fact is that you can't blame them. They must conform or quit - there is no other choice. It's a tough choice, especially if they've got used to the company mansion, cars and the sense of power. Can't judge them harshly, even if one's disposed to judge them.