"The people of India - they are the ones whose attention, enthusiasm and love and support drive the great game, and business, of cricket in this country, and around the world." Greg Chappell.
“In 1983, I was posted at Bucharest and had gone out with my son Tinoo for lunch at the Japanese ambassador's villa on lake Snagov. The other ambassadors were somewhat intrigued by my trying to get hold of a transistor, as there was no international crisis. Indian score of183 depressed me. We came back home and before going for my siesta Tinoo wanted to listen to the scores. I said we would lose in any case, so why bother. He even said that there could be miracles but seeing my mood gave up. But I was woken up by the Pakistani Ambassador who congratulated me on the victory. Is aid why are you pulling my leg. Only when he insisted I tuned in and was absolutely delighted. In return, in Amman in 1992, in spite of Pakistan's indifferent form in the league matches, I had bet with the Ambassador for their winning the Cup and went over for celebrations with champagne,” the author
Even in normal times India’s national TV channels, obsessed with celebrity talks, interviews, reality shows and trivia have little informed discussion on international and intellectual subjects, but with the cricket World Cup being played in south Asia, there is an overkill with cricket talk and walk. In India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, there is little but cricket, cricket and more cricket.
Because of terrorist attacks on Sri Lankan team in Lahore a few years ago, international cricket matches are not played in Pakistan. But with India and Pakistan going to play on 30th March for a place in the final, people across the border and India are animated and excited. Indian PM Manmohan Singh has invited Pakistan PM Gilani to watch the match in north Indian town of Mohali. That has added further grist to mill. But nothing will come out of the talks on bilateral problems as long as Washington with its massive military and economic aid manipulates Pakistan’s policy. Unfortunately India now has an elite totally beholden if not servile to Washington. Yes we can expect some feel good vibes. For problems between the two neighbors see Khurshid Kasuri’s Mid-Winter Dreams in New Delhi
Although international cricket is governed by International Cricket Council (ICC), but the overwhelmingly rich, like USA was after WWII, the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) calls the shots. The revenues are mostly provided by sale of Advertisement by media and communication companies etc., who market their product to over India’s 1.1 billion cricket watching audience along with another 400 million or so in south Asia and tens of millions people of south Asian origin abroad.
Killjoy Cricket Administrators & Hapless Indian Paying Public
In India those who create desires which we knew not existed have gone beyond the threshold of pain, boredom, stupidity in ruthlessly exploiting one of the remaining means of entertainment and relaxation for paying public for cricket. Everyone beginning with ICC Chief, Sharad Pawar, a minister in India allegedly looking for patronage and some gain even if he knows little about the game and his equally ignorant squeezers out of the only popular sport with the Indians .The killjoy administrators’ look how they are rolling in wealth and enjoying other benefits. It is crying shame that an alternative cricket center the Indian Cricket League was killed by the BCCI monopoly.
Problem with Indian cricket commentators even for TV is that most suffer from usual Indian verbal diarrhea of argumentative kind. They know it is not Radio broadcast but still keep on yapping and trying to show their so called knowledge, disturbing the ball by ball display. The situation is made worse by endless mostly stupid ads mostly either copied from the West or imagined and forced by illiterate oil, detergent or peanut selling Baniyas with little vision or taste repeating the ads as if the public is dumb like them. Nowhere in the world except in India, is the TV audience so shabbily treated. They are the backbone of the game in providing revenues. Sometimes hardly 40% of the time is given for the ball to ball display in between a plethora of ads in poor taste. Watching a batsman out is as satisfactory as coitus interreptus. Channels home on to stupid advertisements. Verily it only confirms that Indians are killjoys. Fortunately one can immediately change the channel for a minute or so.
Take for example one Arun Lal and Ravi Shastri, both born perhaps with genetic inferiority complex. Arun Lal is so biased. He is always wishing and willing for the fall of an Indian wicket or a century by the opponents. Ravi Shastri is not much better. No wonder they are favorites of countries playing against India and are called up to do commentary. They are like non-Indian NRIs and non-Indian RIs. Thank God for intelligent former great player-commentator Sunil Gavaskar. Will the BCCI ban Lal and Shastri from Indian matches? Just listen to Australian, English or Pakistani commentators. They are so very patriotic and always praising their side.
Among the worst foreign commentators is Tony Greig of apartheid South African origin whose commentary against Indian players is almost racist. He has been involved in many unsporting controversies. I recall a major one, when as MCC captain in mid 1970s, before the tour of West Indies; he had declared that he will make the West Indies growl, reminding them of the colonial era. The elegant and brilliant West Indian players said nothing but Tony was welcomed at the pitch with a volley of short pitched fast bouncers around his ears at over 6ft height. He was soon out. A few West Indian players silently escorted him out up to the boundary line towards the pavilion.
In a recent test against Sri Lanka, when Indian batter Suresh Raina was on 96, Tony (do all Tony’s like Tony Blair suffer from some grave malady) recalled how Raina was once out first ball by Murlitharan, who was to bowl next. An embarrassed Sri Lankan commentator reminded Greig that since then Raina had played hundred ODIs andT-20s and scored many centuries. Raina got his century. Such racists must be banned.
A refreshing change is a former Australian captain, now commentator, Ian Chappell, which is a pleasure to listen too. Very correct and with insight .He is more of an exception among Australians, politicians, most cricketers, and almost all diplomats and the media men I encountered in my 35 years as a diplomat and 15 as an analyst of international affairs.
It is strange that South Africa, one of the top teams otherwise in bilateral 50 ODIs has yet to win a knockout match in the World Cup. Try a new Captain! They lost to New Zealand, who joined Sri Lanka and Pakistan and India in the semifinals. On current form Sri Lanka should easily beat New Zealand. Sri Lanka thrashed the English Team by 10 wickets. My money is on India beating Pakistan on current form. India then has a better chance of overcoming a fine Sri Lankan team on home ground. Inshallah and Amen.
Read Also: India and the Cricket World Cup (2007)