Commercialization of Cricket

People in India are obsessed with the game cricket. In fact obsessed might be an under statement for some of them. The famous adage, “Eat, Sleep and drink cricket” holds true for the millions of fans in India. The people follow the cricketers like a zealot and sometimes cross the thin line that exists between a fan and a fanatic. On one hand, one can recall the grand reception that the team received after winning the inaugural T-20 world cup and on the other hand one is reminded of the disruptions caused by the people at Eden Gardens when India played Sri Lanka in the semi-finals of the world cup in 1996.

The huge fan following and love for the game has given many opportunistic people a chance to make big bucks out of the game. Be it the introduction of Twenty-twenty cricket or the formation of the IPL, cricket has been commercialized at a steady pace. These days excessive cricket is being played. No doubt that it has made BCCI one of the richest boards in the world but it has also taken a toll on the players. Mental fatigue, physical injuries and inability to perform are few of the problems that the cricketers face these days. The players do not get enough time to recuperate from an injury and hence their performance falls below the desired standards.

With the introduction of T-20, cricket has been reduced to just a three hour game. Gone are the days when people used to watch a five day test match with great enthusiasm. These day people live a fast paced life and no one has enough time to sit and watch a test match. Hence twenty-twenty is the latest craze as it provides good value for money. But it can not judge the actual temperament of a player as it can only be judged by the test cricket. Test cricket has taken a back seat and T-20 is booming because it generates a huge amount of revenue for the sponsors and even the players are game to it as they get a hefty amount to play for their franchises. Not only the test cricket even the one day cricket’s future will also get threatened with this new format. Who will like to see an eight hour game when a more thrilling three hour game is present?

Gone are those days when an adage “Study makes one intelligent while playing makes dumb” holds. Today cricketers are among the highly paid persons with dozens of endorsements signed in their bags. Television commercials and shows, movie industry, fashion industry and many more are eyeing the cricketers as the money making pie. Not even a single industry is left untouched. Special telecasts on news channels are covered and pre-match and post-match preparations are done not only by cricket teams but also by news channels to increase their trp. All this leaves hardly any time for cricketer to spend time with family and enjoy his individual life.

Hence the two main issues that the world cricketing body i.e. the ICC needs to address is the excessive playing of cricket that has lead to the player’s burnout and the resurgence of test cricket which is the ultimate test of a player’s caliber. They should issue strict directions to boards to plan the tour of teams in such a manner such that there are enough gaps for rest and match practice to the players. All boards should get ICC’s nod before finalizing the tour to ensure the watchdog’s eye on them and to maintain the commercialization. Personal interests of individuals should be kept aside so that the quality of the game is maintained. After all the people want to see a good and competitive game and not just another commercialized venture who’s only aim is to mint money.

Saurabh Agarwal

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