Christian Ryan in Cricinfo:
Lloyd’s West Indians kept coming because they played thrilling, menacing cricket and because everybody made money out of it. Australia and India keep playing each other because everybody makes money out of it. If one of the two ingredients – good cricket – is missing, does that wreck the cake? The men who sit on the board of “India’s major partner” might say: “To a point.” Or: “Pig’s arse.” If India win or India lose, Indians will keep watching cricket and Indian TV stations will keep buying cricket. That’s the presumption. The market decides.
When BCCI ass-hat in chief N. Srinivas declared that India’s humiliation in Australia would soon be rendered irrelevant by a string of victories at home, he was rightly derided in the press. So it is with great sadness that I must admit that, well, there’s probably some truth to what he said.
I don’t think this is necessarily an affront to the Indian fan. On the contrary, I think the Indian fan’s current state is a defense mechanism, painstakingly developed after generations of administrative neglect. For it is no secret that, with all due respect to Bindra and Vishwanathan Anand, cricket is all we have. Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I took our capitulation in Australia quite badly; my mood darkened, sleep became elusive, and my ritual visits to Cricinfo were no longer preceded by excitement, but rather foreboding.
Surprisingly, my relatives and friends who have been following Indian cricket since the early 90s were less perturbed. That’s not say that they didn’t care, but they were certainly able to come to terms with the loss much quicker than I. The last four years, they told me, has been an aberration. This (that is, a humiliating loss overseas) is what it means to be a Indian cricket fan. Although tinged with disappointment, their tone betrayed a sense of amusement–a feeling akin to one, perhaps, educed by the discovery of a childhood blanket long thought lost. It’s filthy and torn, but it’s still your blanket.
The strange combination of extreme passion and detached stoicism is a strange one, and it seems to be endemic to the Indian fan. And while it may be a handy tool for survival, I’m not sure it bodes well for the long-term health of Indian cricket. Despite Siddharth Monga’s insistence in Cricinfo in the other day that we can’t let the hurt of this loss fade away when the next series rolls around, chances are we’ll do just that.
It is for this reason I was so elated when I saw this:
New Delhi: Italy’s World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, former Argentina skipper Juan Pablo Sorin and Frenchman Robert Pires are set to feature in an Indian soccer competition that hopes to replicate the success of cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
Some 30 players and six coaches from abroad will be auctioned off in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata for the Feb 25-April 8 league, one of the organisers told Reuters.
“We have signed seven ‘icon’ players for the auction and each of the six teams will have one such player with a $600,000 salary cap,” Bhaswar Goswami, executive director of Celebrity Management Group (CMG), said by telephone.
At the end of the day, the BCCI will not change its behavior as long it has a monopolistic force-choke grip on the sport-loving demographic in India. As long as we have nothing else to watch every series– regardless of how poorly India performs– will yield millions in profits for the players and boards involved. The best thing that could happen to Indian cricket is the emergence of football or basketball or even field hockey as a serious challenger for the Indian sport fan’s attention.