The Battle For No.1 Off The Field Gains Momentum

Posted: July 29, 2011 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, India in England 2011, Opinion
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 Goutham Chakravarthi

 29 July 2011

It is now a power struggle. It is proving to be one mighty battle for power between England and India: BCCI vs. ECB, English press vs. Indian press, ESPNStar com box vs. Sky com box. Of course, also the small matter of battle for ICC’s no.1 ranking in Tests.

Michael Vaughn wrote a piece on how to get Tendulkar out at the beginning of the series. Now, one Test into the series, Nasser Hussain has written a piece on how Anderson is proving to be too smart for Tendulkar. Simon Hughes wrote an article on how to get the better of all Indian players (bordering on something like get the batsmen out and don’t lose wickets to Indian bowlers!). Scyld Berry swears Tendulkar wouldn’t have crossed his highest score of 37 at Lord’s had he even batted the whole of the last day of the first Test. Boycott calls it the beginning of the end for the Indian team as no.1, but, Botham is already convinced that England are the new kings.

A story such as this is what media is after.

Not to be outdone, Sourav Ganguly called the English attack pretty much the same as the one he faced in 2007 and how India will tough it out and win this series. One Test in to the series, he is convinced that India will get better – a thought reflected in another former captain Anil Kumble’s recent article. Meanwhile, Sunil Gavaskar has appealed to the Indian media to get behind the home team like the Australian press and stop being negative about them (in other words, you or I can’t have an opinion of our own).

Long gone are the days when journalists described batting as art and poetry or the art of re-constructing a bowler’s clever plot in beguiling a champion opposition bowler. It is hyperbole madness today with media looking for quotes and stories. A Manjrekar calling Dravid “not talented” is a bigger story than a gutsy, carefully engineered Dravid hundred. A journalist who ekes out “Ganguly divides the team” from the coach is put on a higher pedestal than a wonderful analyst reporter who picks a pattern to a team’s issues with leg-spin bowling.

Bloggers and journalists have been working overtime to prove their points-of-view. Some English writers have even put this English team on par with Clive Lloyd’s West Indians and Steve Waugh’s Australians. The health of their bowling riches is compared to the ancient flourishing civilizations on the banks of river Nile and their seemingly endless supply of talented young batsmen are expected to back-fill any holes in their batting should there be such a need. Some credit the African and Asian immigrants’ contribution in the English uprising in the world rankings. The standard of county cricket is apparently on the rise while simultaneously they are taking a swipe at the state schools for not contributing even one English player since Collingwood.

On the Indian side, cricket enthusiasts have been digging-up stats of tours where India start poorly and stacking the series end result to be convinced that there is going to be a turn around. Health and injury history of Zaheer Khan have been researched more than will the protein pattern matching at the Indian Institute of Science. A team’s seriousness of the first test is being questioned and even alleged to be used as match practice by Sanjay Manjrekar. Never the ones to miss an opportunity, the whole of England is hell bent to point at the IPL for every Indian failure anywhere else – from the player fitness to mental fatigue.

The same can be extended to how both the cricket boards operate. Both like power and both don’t have a history of being very affable when wielding it. Like ECB’s willing and what proved to be a fatal association with Standford and now the enormous urge to protect its players from theIPL, BCCI is no different with wanting its stars playing in IPL – even at the cost of an international tour – and not the other T20 leagues around the world. Both like taking pot-shots at each other, don’t expect it to be very different should one of the two teams lose on the field either on a dodgy umpiring decision or the proverbial “player integrity” over a match altering low catch.

The team that stands tall at the end of the series will be regarded as among the finest by its fans, ex-players and its media while the losing team will face the wrath of their fans, ex-players and media. You see, they all need the men on the field to give them the bragging rights over their counterparts.

God save the team that wins. God save the team that loses.

  1. thecognitivenomad says:

    It is a real shame Goutham, isn’t it?

    For the modern fan/reader, a journalistic piece that constructs a wonderful tale of narration of an exciting day’s test is probably as entertaining as watching slush melt. The sort of information the media is after, as you rightly say, is largely off-the-field incidents.

    With commercialization, the values slowly fade. When you’re associating numbers to players, the ego builds up – a reflection of which can be seen on the field these days. Who knows how the post IPL auction sledges fly these days?

    Sadly, in an age of Sportsmen, Superstardom and Superinjunctions, the focus on the sport and its core values are on the verge of extinction. The media’s contribution to this fate, by and large, is starkly major.

    Maybe, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for MSD to start a “Save the Game of Cricket – Only a Few Balls Left” Campaign. Might sound a bit corny yeah, but I have my fears.

  2. The quality of reporting has deteriorated and it is reflecting in cricket too. All reporters try to find something new as they don’t have the ability to stand out from the crowd due to their quality of reporting. We also need to look at the reading habits of people nowadays. Those who watch matches don’t read about that match next day. They read only some new topics about that match which turns out to be some controversial false news. That is how media increase their popularity and cricket administrators and players are helping them with their style of working too. It is mediocrity everywhere.

  3. […] that is not how the public, and more specifically the Media, takes it.  Goutham Chakravarthi’s recent article will clearly explain how such an incident can be blown out of proportion. Vaughan should have known […]

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