I will stop watching cricket the day Sachin Retires

I guess it is a visceral reaction. I will stop watching cricket the day Sachin retires. Watching Sachin taking the signature stance after a crotch yank and then driving one straight through was cricketing equivalent of heaven. I don't get same kick watching Dhoni heaving one physics defying helicopter shot or Uthapa slamming a tennis forehand shot over the bowler. On the surface, my aversion to this form of power-cricket seems purely based only on lack of quality in cricket. But there seems to be more to it.

P.Sainaths article on Hindu BCCI: Billionaires Control Cricket in India is right on mark in correlating the degradation of quality to cash rich IPLT20.

There's been too much playing to advertising-driven, media-orchestrated euphoria with the IPL. You belt sixes over shortened boundaries, swank in and out in perhaps 30 balls — get lionised for it, and swagger all the way to the bank.

However IPL-T20 will triumph no matter how hard the purists tries to romantically reminiscence over good-ol Test cricket. Why? Because Test cricket was T20 to original version of bat-until-all-out form of cricket. Because 60 overs cricket was T20 to 5 day version. Because 50 over one day version was T20 to 60 overs. T20 would have put one-day matches to bed if it wasn't for India winning the last edition of world cup. We are talking about a spectator sport which was always driven by advertisement revenue and media attention. The initial transformation of the sport looked almost inevitable. However the latest drift towards T20 seems to be manufactured with impunity and sheer arrogance.

Why are you thanking god, its not Friday yet?

Current workforce is increasingly alienated socially due to systemic nature of capitalism. We have to sell our labor 5/6 days a week to earn a living. We are increasingly alienated from the work and the product. So we value "leisure time", time away from work. There is an increasing tendency to maximize enjoyment during the time away from work. Increasingly so when you have more disposable income. So that you can maximize your productivity during the actual work week. In addition to that, we are also alienated from the fellow workers. In such urbane middle class settings we are also increasingly lacking a social identity.

Manufacturing tradition

These workers are not just labor for the corporates but they are also the "consumers" or "buyers" of their products. IPL seems like a corporate manufactured tradition where

  1. they commoditize my leisure time
  2. sell it back to me
  3. also market their products so I buy more
  4. create identities like Chennai Super Kings fan etc so that I stay put

And it is manufactured with impunity and I-know-how-to-deal-with-you arrogance.

P.Sainath again "How to feed your billionaires".

With the IPL comes the convergence of the most important media trends: the ABC of Media — Advertising, Bollywood and Corporate Power. Corporate barons and Bollywood stars own cricket teams. One IPL team is owned by a newspaper. Other dailies have become ‘media partners' of IPL teams. Some Bollywood stars have ‘promotional agreements' for their films with TV channels who disguise their paid-for gushing over those films as “news.” Once national heroes, cricket's top icons are now ‘capital assets' of the franchise owners. Once proud of their disavowal of tobacco and liquor advertising, the icons now plug for the latter in surrogate form. And are linked to the former in other ways. And a once great game moves from heartfelt public ownership to a pocket-driven private one; from a national passion to a hyper-commercial nightmare.

But when the floodlights turns on its just cricket. Isn’t it?

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Image credit: The Hindu

Exactly. Sports is my escape mechanism. From the daily work routine, from all the ills of the world and from all the politics. Or so I would like to believe. But you just have to look around to realize that it is not the case.

Sports, read IPL, is highly incorporated into market and politics. So if there are opaque dealings and misuse of public resources even to turn on the flood lights, then I wonder whether it is just cricket.

SportsCenter effect

Number of dunks in basketball increased exponentially after ESPN SportsCenter started Top-10 plays section. A normal viewer have no time to watch 80+ regular game season. The only source of his sports news is"SportsCenter". Easy way for a player to get noticed was to dunk and get into Top-10. IPL plays 72 matches in over a month. The entertainment and thrill of a T20 match is short lived. As a player in order to get noticed you have to do something “Sportscenter” worthy. So I am skeptical of the hoicks and cross batted sweeps especially when the player trademark it to a cola company.

I am feeling force-fed this local hooch in a party of the privileged. Glad that I am not RSVPing.