Sriram Balasubramanian is a Journalist, voracious reader, avid Blogger, social enthusiast and a believer in excellence not mediocrity. With an inherent passion towards journalism and writing, he believes in playing the "Straight Drive" all the time. Besides this, he has a MS in Engineering Management and has played Chess for Singapore.
I had always wondered why Indian Cricket in general is used like a toy. It is like a toy, being used and compromised most of the time. Post the England series debacle, this tendency has gone a notch more with all the stakeholders. Let's dissect the stakeholders and see the reality:
The BCCI, being the big daddy for Indian sports, has its way or the highway. I have highlighted the positive aspects of the BCCI in my previous posts but they have a way of imposing themselves without a breather for the players. Now take these examples. The IPL was just a week away from the brilliant World Cup triumph, so no breather on that. MSD has played so much cricket that he would have seen more of the umpires than his wife, no breather on that. After the hammering from England, we have the extravagant yet utterly wasteful tournament called CL T20, no breather on that. The emphasis on Test Cricket is not the priority for the authorities but protecting the commercial interests is the top most priority. One day they hug the players for the World Cup win, then another day they toss it this way with the crammed IPL, they toss it the other way by reducing the already meager number of Test cricket matches; they toy with Indian Cricket at their wish!!
The corporate sponsor:
These guys are meant to make money, that's why they are there. You have sponsors everywhere, on the stumps, on the microphones, on the grounds and they drive the IPL.The biggest liability in this commercial pressure by the corporate sponsor is Indian Cricket itself. You have all these cheerleaders and fashionista's who come to cricket games thinking it's a "waving" party. While the IPL produces good talent it engulfs the youngsters with too much money at too young an age. This eventually makes the cricketers go in for more money than National glory; again toying with Indian Cricket eventually.
The Indian fan:
People like me and a billion others who have embraced the game as their own family take so much in our stride that we feel that it is our virtue and duty to toss about everyone. When Sachin scores a century, he is GOD's avatar, when he doesn't score in a few games, then he is staying in the Indian team only to break records. On one day in April 2 (this year), we celebrate it like Independence day with patriotic spirit; and when the team loses a series in England, we moan on the Internet on how Indian Cricket is "declining". After all, only this "declining" Indian outfit won the World Cup for our country right? Praise yesterday, frustration today, anger tomorrow; toying with Indian Cricket at its best!!
The Indian player:
The Indian Player does not leave his act behind. Though the legends such as Sachin and Dravid have their heads in the right places, the IPL babies have their legs above their heads. The priorities of some of the cricketers, keeping IPL as top priority has made the national cap not so lucrative. I agree that Indian players don't deserve criticism in such a stellar year but the tour of England is a warning of how some younger cricketers toy around with Indian cricket and keep club cricket on par with national duty.
In all this roundabout 360 degree tamasha of Indian Cricket, the genuine gold mine called Test Cricket is more often than not forgotten. The true role of the stakeholders (especially the governing bodies) should be to find ways to promote Test cricket and keep it at the core of their operations. Test cricket is the identity of the game, it brings back the lure of National cricket and also motivates cricketers to prioritize National cricket to club cricket. IPL is needed but only as a compliment to Test Cricket between Nations, not at the cost of it.
The beauty of saving the draw on the final day for the country, the beauty of grinding a century out, the beauty of winning on a last day track, the beauty of having knowledgeable cricket fans (and not people who watch because it's the "in" thing) applauding the drawn effort; this beauty is somewhere lost today amidst how the various stakeholders perceive and take Indian Cricket for a ride Indian Cricket, unfortunately the Perfect Toy for everyone, needs its beauty to shine through like a diamond for 5 days and not go into wilderness in 3 hours.
After all, Indian Cricket deserves much more.
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