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May 29, 2009

Politics

Cricket crunch will kill this great sport

Kamran Abbasi


The ICC looks to have lost control of the governance of the game and its ordered global development © Getty Images
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The drum beats of the World T20 are beginning to sound. The last gripping tournament already seems a distant memory. World cricket has been transformed in these last two years as has the political situation in Pakistan. While the English media talk of this world tournament as little more than a precursor to the Ashes series that will follow, Pakistan cricket will view the next few weeks with the utmost importance.

My hope is that the World T20 will restore some perspective, some romance and fascination. We do now have a glut of fixtures and contests, and this development has been too fast, too haphazard, and driven too much by greed. Worse still, the ICC looks to have lost control of the governance of the game and its ordered global development. Cricket's administrators and television companies have lost sight of what is important.

By comparison, football has bowed to some degree to similar pressures but it has managed to preserve a sense of theatre and surprise. FIFA, for all its stifling bureaucracy, manages to enforce a rigid order which means that no national association is bigger than the sport's governing body. Cricket has suffered the rule of the English and Australians, and now sits at the mercy of India. Such individual force is a bigger problem in cricket than football. No country should be bigger than the sport.

Cricket's world is smaller than football's, a few nations playing repeatedly against each other, a few players reliving familiar combats. A glut in football can be accommodated by the sheer number of top-level participants. A glut in cricket removes the thrill and surprise of the game, and ultimately removes viewers and spectators.

Take this week's European Champions' League final for example. Despite the volume of matches played this year across Europe, Barcelona's contest with Manchester United carried the excitement of the unknown, and the delicious taste of a sporting treat--indeed, doubly so for me and my fellow supporters of Liverpool.

Cricket is in danger of overkill, and the IPL and its imitators in other countries are playing a major part. We require a formula that preserves the novelty of encounters. The familiarity of combatants will breed contempt among viewers.

I am a fan of T20 and to my surprise I enjoyed last year's IPL tournament. I have been unable to watch this year's tournament because my concern is that Pakistan and its cricketers are being systematically marginalised by certain elements of the international cricket community. The removal of Pakistan's champions from the planned T20 Champions League tournament is further evidence to support that view. I find it hard to watch tournaments from which Pakistan's players have been deliberately excluded.

The final responsibility for this disorder in world cricket must rest with the ICC. The game we love is being devalued. This is not the fault of T20 or cricketers. It is the fault of administrators, television moguls, and businessmen, to whom short-term financial returns matter more than a long-term vision of a successful sport. This is the cricket crunch that will lead to a collapse in viewers and eventually funding. Who will put the brakes on this mismanaged juggernaut heading for a crash?

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Keywords: Politics

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Vicky on (June 6, 2009, 5:41 GMT)

Bilal,

if, whatever you said about IPL final, is right then its very unfortunate. I agree to that point. That is not the gentlemanship. Here the players and to some extent Mr. Modi is wrong.

But I dont agree to the author that margnalization of Pak-cricket is because of BCCI and Modi. I dont want to repeat the reason quoted by some of the readers earlier.

Cheers.

Posted by Shashi on (June 5, 2009, 10:55 GMT)

Pakistan cricket is suffering because of the hypocrisy of the PCB and also because their fans by and large fail to recognize this very fact. Stop blaming other bodies for not helping you. You have to pick urselves up. There is no US Aid coming in here for you folks.. lol

P.S:"Improve china cricket" someone said, just like ur foriegn policy eh!!!

Posted by bilal on (June 4, 2009, 15:04 GMT)

the article is written in the right spirit and percieved in a negative one. the money involved in the game has contributed to a culture that we cannot subscribe to. BCCI made a lot of fuss when ponting brushed aside sharad pawar a few yrs ago at closing ceremony. yet no one ever mentioned what IPL management did to Jacob zuma, the South African President at IPL closing ceremony. he was made to stand for 30 minutes in a ceremony not befitting a head of dtate. then a few players didnt even shake his extended hand. What was glaringly visible was the attention being paid to Lalit Modi by the players while he was standing by the side of South African President. Some were even sharing the smiles with Modi while shaking hands with Jacob Zuma. Where have all the gentlemen gone? i wonder---sold out to big money bosses!!! the allegiance of the players to the game and their respective nations is seriously in wuestion here

Posted by Siddharth on (June 4, 2009, 13:05 GMT)

Firstly, c'mon guys...do remember we are sports fans here. We can surely debate without insulting each other's nations. And surely our sport needs India and Pakistan equally. The sooner Indo-Pak (and PCB-BCCI) relations improve, the better. Hopefully, Tanvir and others will be back for IPL-3 and CL-2.

On Kamran's main point, I disagree that we already have overkill, or that it is nigh. For eg. fans (on this site as well as elsewhere) are still eagerly looking forward to the T20 WC, just after the IPL. And bilateral test and ODIs are still spread out enough that respective fans await and enjoy them. Overkill is definitely a risk to be guarded against; but as long as hungry new talent keeps getting opportunities and stars choose tourneys selectively, we will still have quality cricket. And satisfied viewers.

Posted by Vicky on (June 4, 2009, 9:20 GMT)

Mr. Ayaz Farooqi, India thrashed Pakistan by 9 wkts in warm-up game. Now, what you wanna say??? Be used to Indian Dominance!!!! Its just an advise. But I want to see Pakistanis play well too.

Cheers

Posted by Siddharth on (June 3, 2009, 8:48 GMT)

On the IPL and the CL, all I'll say is (regardless of who is responsible) it is rather sad that Sohail Tanvir and others have missed out. I hope Indo-Pak relations will improve, and we'll be able to host the Pak players again in IPL-3.

Many comments here are quite disappointing. But I'm glad to see there are others who have shown restraint and decency to the other side.

On Kamran's main point, I don't believe we currently have cricket overkill, but I concede it is a risk to be guarded against going forward. Hopefully, more tournaments will mean more opportunities for new cricketers to emerge, so that the overall talent pool expands, and top cricketers won't get burnt out.

Posted by wakeel on (June 3, 2009, 7:21 GMT)

to Mr.Kamran, i dont know y i am having a feeling that a football die-hard fan has been asked to comment about cricket.Anyways the most alarming thing that i read in this para is 'pakistan is been systematically marganlised',someone has to do sumthing about that. not the icc nor pcb, this time its our players who should perform and show their value to the world. and thats soo true that for us pakistanis, IPL has lost its value just because our stars arent featuring.

Posted by CricLover on (June 2, 2009, 5:59 GMT)

Prakash, My dear can u pls explain what u meant? So, heres one for u; An ant grows wings before it dies.

Posted by Ayaz F. Farooqi on (June 2, 2009, 3:27 GMT)

to eon: We will answer your jibes with the power of bat and ball. The day is not far when we will make you bite the dust. Arrogance takes no one too far, and perhaps you Indians are not used to dominance and superamacy in the world of cricket. That's why this brief phase of power is going to your head. We will now see you on the cricket field!!!

Posted by Nabil on (June 1, 2009, 21:57 GMT)

"This is not the fault of T20 or cricketers. It is the fault of administrators, television moguls, and businessmen, to whom short-term financial returns matter more than a long-term vision of a successful sport." the above paragraph is what Kamran Abbasi intended to highlight, i think! but just 1 para mentioning Pakistan and it's curre nt scenario gets the most highlighted by the readers. Take it easy everyone. :)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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