Variety

The Emperor has no clothes

T.C.A. SRINIVASA RAGHAVAN | Updated on December 14, 2011 Published on February 17, 2011

LF18CHITRAC   -  PTI

LF18CHITRAB   -  PTI



Let's be truthful. As cricket goes, the World Cup has become a bore ever since the marketing crowd got into the act.

The point is this: each game depends on individual or team performances and a tournament depends on the format. And the formats today depend on what the marketing crowd wants, which is what makes the tournament a bore even as each individual game remains as interesting or boring as the run of play — in spite of the incessant intrusions by ads.

In my view, the best format, tournament-wise, was in the 2007 World Cup. There, even very good teams could get knocked out at any stage, which made each round do-or-die contests. It was such fun.

But because India got knocked out in the second round as did Pakistan, sub-continental viewers lost interest and the marketing boys took a big hit as TV viewership dipped hugely.

Result: the 2011 Cup makes sure that the semi-finals will have at least three major teams. That way TV eyeballs will not go down to next-to-nothing. But the tournament has lost its spice.

The music of cricket

The marketing hype around the Cup is also very irritating. It is tasteless, vulgar and, above all, not needed on the scale it is perpetrated.

If you like cricket, you will watch any game, even little boys knocking around on the street. I always stop to watch a few minutes because to me, in its non-linearity, cricket is like Hindustani classical music which, too, I pause to listen wherever I hear it.

So though, overall, the notes in a raga follow a set format, within that the singer has complete freedom to choose his or her rendition. He or she goes along, and you wait for the nuances that, if I may borrow the marketing tagline for a soft drink, give you a tingle in jingle.

It is exactly the same in cricket, which is what makes it so absolutely wonderful. It is peaceful until the climactic moment when the stroke is played. And this gets repeated every 50 or so seconds, the average interval between balls.

Now, imagine that during a concert either there is constant chattering or whenever the singer pauses for breath, a gorilla drops on to the stage to cavort there for five seconds.

This is what the marketing vandals have done to cricket. Anyone who watched the India-South Africa series last December on Ten Cricket will bear witness.

The philistines don't know that in cricket, as in music, your mind needs to dwell, savour, analyse. The ads make that impossible, which ruins it all for me and countless others.

It is like listening to Vasundhara Komkalli in a third-class coach on the Patna-Kolkata leg of a passenger train — mind-numbing in its assault on your senses.

In short, the marketing types have ruined not just the format but also each individual game. They have taken away the chanciness — which is the soul of cricket — of the tournament and the serenity of the game.

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Published on February 17, 2011
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