Unravelling the T-20 mindset

VINAY KANCHAN | Updated on October 11, 2012 Published on October 11, 2012

T20, a metaphor for how young India thinks _ K. R. DEEPAK

Optimism, speed, creativity and the ability to move easily between various roles are some of its traits.

As the vision of the ongoing cricket season begins to take on severe 20-20 connotations, cricket fans are gearing up for the high-octane drama which only T20 matches seem to be so adept at providing. Yet as the modern day avatar of this, the most traditional of all sports, seeks to breach new frontiers, it offers a lot more than just unmatched excitement on the cricket pitch.

This is a version, which, unlike any of its predecessors, both the Indian team and its teeming masses, took to almost instantly. And in that unfettered embrace, there possibly lurks a match in mindset which might be of significance to brand marketers everywhere. Perhaps the sport itself provides a perfect metaphor for the thought process and attitudes of young India. Hence it is only fitting that we christen such a phenomenon as ‘The T-20 Mindset’.

Getting there double quick

The impact of the 20-20 game has transformed the concept of what is a difficult total to chase. Just over a decade ago, 225 runs across 50 overs were considered a par score. Today the Indian team might be undaunted in chasing that over a mere 20. T20 cricket has had the wonderful effect of making teams stretch their ambitions, while severely rationalising the time to render them in.

India’s young brigade is no stranger to this mindset. Having sprouted wings in an era of optimism and opportunity, the tendency to back their chances, to get to the same destinations as their predecessors, but in far lesser time, is on the rise.

What they think possible, during the course of a five-year period (for instance), has taken on altogether deeper connotations. Perhaps watching their favourite stars chase down previously improbable scores has somewhere affected their own sub-conscious benchmarks of what speed one progresses with. This is an otherwise perfectly laudable attitude, unless, of course, one happens to be driving.

Actively seeking the tipping point

The wonderful thing about 20-20 cricket is that all it sometimes takes to completely turn a game on its head is just one over. That six-ball interval, usually inundated with advertising, is often the arena in which any of bat, ball or palms can make a truly match-changing contribution. In many ways, T20 cricket has reiterated the emphasis on singular, impactful events or magic moments.

Likewise, Indian youth today seem to firmly believe in the power of that one tipping point to truly transform their lives. Given that modern technology and media alternatives provide such ready access to influential forums and people, all it could take to sway the favour of serendipity is an incisive message or an emphatic presentation. The prospect of that lucrative chance encounter is an all too endearing concept in the minds of this tribe. Small wonder that they might consider triumph to be just a ‘two-minute recipe’ away, but only as long as you find the relevant two-minute pack.

Merging diverse influences

Twenty-20 cricket has always been an idea born out of the fusion of many varied inspirations. The pace of premier league soccer, the razzmatazz of the NBA and the NFL, the entertainment inclination of a Bollywood blockbuster and the result-oriented imperative of any limited overs game have all gloriously come together to create this fascinating potpourri called T20 cricket. This offering would never have been as fascinating if it was not able to let its guard down, and allow the intervention of ‘non-cricketing inputs’.

Much in the same vein, the T-20 generation is utterly at ease with the prospect of the interruption. Technology has perhaps conditioned them to multitasking. Creativity and innovation, for instance, thrive in abundance, for it is often the unrelated input which is the precursor to speculative thought. The number of novel business ideas emerging from young India, which would have been inconceivable even a decade ago, is a case in point.

Not stuck to one role

Twenty-20 cricket is clearly the domain of those who can contribute in multiple ways. Being purely a batsman or a bowler is often not enough. Teams actively seek to achieve balance by having players who provide options. And for the cricketers themselves, having the alternative to impact the game another way when one approach fails is certainly a confidence-booster. Twenty-20 cricket has reiterated the importance of those who provide the ‘bits and pieces’, because they tellingly add towards a winning team edifice.

This aspect resonates immensely with the T-20 generation. The inclination to cast their lives and careers along strict monochromatic channels is truly on the decline. Studies indicate this is going to be an era when young people will undergo multiple career changes. Business barons might become rock stars, movie directors corporate trainers. A casual vocation might become a calling. When Shakespeare so eloquently quipped, ‘and one man in his time plays many parts’; perhaps he really was talking about the T-20 generation.

Passionate that India is ‘the place’

If one looks at 20-20 cricket as a category, then the IPL is indisputably the brand which is the resident thought leader. And that makes India the centre for all innovation, pertinent to this version of the game. Clearly this is an arena where India calls the shots. Quite a power shift, when one considers what used to happen previously in cricket. The flood of foreign players trying to participate in the IPL is perhaps also symptomatic of some of the Indian industries being able to lure human resources from abroad. The tides are shifting, cricketing and otherwise.

This turnaround is also reflected in the mindset of the T-20 generation. That opening up of the Indian economy, and the minds within the country has fostered a surge of confidence about India’s place in the world. This generation is considerably in lesser awe of what lies abroad than any of its recent predecessors. The feeling that this is where their long-term future can be built is palpable in their words and actions. For these young minds, there is no greater stage than the one at home.

Finally cricket, much like movies, has also begun to offer a great perspective into the Indian psyche. It is imperative then that we take a closer look at the action replays. Tucked away within those images, there just might lurk audience insights, which could bowl marketers over … and maidens too.

Vinay Kanchan is a creative thinking trainer and an independent brand consultant.

Published on October 11, 2012
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