Cricket, Deception and Empty Stands - The New Indian Express

Cricket, Deception and Empty Stands

Published: 01st January 2014 08:15 AM

Last Updated: 01st January 2014 08:15 AM

As we usher in the New Year 2014, let us also decide to have a new policy vis-a-vis domestic cricket. Be it the Ranji Trophy (state teams), Duleep Trophy (zonal teams), both multi-day matches or the Challenger Trophy (limited overs for BCCI teams like India Seniors, A, B etc) there are no takers for them in metros like Bangalore. When Karnataka played against Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy, Chinnaswamy Stadium sported a hauntedhouse look on all the four days of the game.

It has been no different for more than two decades now and it will not be even in 2020 or 2030. All this talk of crowds at a domestic cricket match, in any or all formats, is sheer nonsense. The plain fact is, and it is there for all to see, that domestic cricket is free. There are no tickets for any domestic cricket game despite involving some of the biggest cricketing names not just in the country but among the six or eight serious cricketing nations as well.

And it's just six or eight spectators seated in the mostly empty stands who make up the so-called crowd at a domestic cricket match.

There are simply no takers. Some enthusiasts who drop by do not make a crowd. A crowd in the sporting sense comprises spectators who pay to watch and not relatives of those who are involved in the match or the office-bearers of the state associations concerned. Cricket crowds are seen only when the national team plays. The IPL is an exception for reasons that are too well known and some of it are likely to be done away with from 2014. The following for the game in India is not for cricket but for the cricket played by the national team. Full stop! Every national team has the same or larger following. But not all Indian sporting teams can be seen in action on a daily basis as it happens with the Indian cricket team. The structure of every other sport is far more elaborate and wider in comparison to cricket.

The number of nations and the manner in which all other sports disciplines are governed is totally different from cricket. The Indian sports bodies cannot control their own playing arrangements as the BCCI is able to do by even sidelining its parent body, the ICC. There are only six or eight nations involved and unless they play all through the year, the ICC affiliates cannot sustain themselves. So all nations play virtually everyday for their own and the sports’ survival.

Unfortunately, the crowds for international cricket played by the Indian cricket team is compared to crowds at other sporting events at lower or lesser levels. This kind of totally unfair and unjust comparison is being carried out by vested interests, including by many in the media, to suit their own purposes and to the detriment of most other sports disciplines. No matter what, it would be prudent to organise domestic cricket only in mofussil centres. Sports enthusiasts at many of these places rarely have the opportunity of witnessing big names in action in any sport. No sports association or federation has ever organised an international football, tennis, basketball or athletics event in districts.

Fed on a diet of cricket and its big names, they make a beeline to watch at least some action. That way the players will get the attention and encouragement. Spare the Chinnaswamy Stadium the ignominy of deserted stands.

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