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Cricket's dominance in India might not be fading just yet, but the team's performance has not been as compelling as the last decade and high-profile retirements since have also had an impact on viewership. Ashok Malik, in Asian Age, wonders if a saturation has been reached, especially with other sports enticing the average fan.
Cricket viewership, even Indian Premier League viewership, is not growing. It has either reached a ceiling (IPL) or a floor (Test cricket). Even limited-overs cricket (the Fifty50) game, the mainstay of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), is showing a worrying pattern. On-ground presence is lower than previously. The BCCI is masking it by hosting matches mainly in smaller cities and towns, where the novelty may still be there. As for television, a comparison between the India-West Indies limited-overs series of 2011 and 2013 would be telling. Both series were played in India. The first was played in the aftermath of India's World Cup victory and showed a TRP of 3.4 (male/15-34/Sec A, B and C). By the 2013 series, the TRP number had fallen to 2.2. TRP figures for the just-concluded (October 2014) India-West Indies series were not immediately available.
India, at least in the latter stages, barely played the kind of cricket that would attract crowds during their recent tour of England. As much hold as the sport has in the country, the efforts of the BCCI to control how much the players share with the media and by extension their fans has resulted in a deterioration of their bond with the people, writes Tanya Aldred in the Telegraph.
And yet for what? It means that Indian fans and the cricket-loving public overseas with a romantic soft spot for India no longer feel such affection for their cricketers. Aside from M S Dhoni and poor Virat Kohli, who could not get a run this summer, how many of the current touring side do people know about? Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a bowler from the scissor-factory town of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, who did not even have a pair of cricket boots before his under-17 trial and who as a young man bowled Tendulkar for his first first-class duck in Indian domestic cricket? Cheteshwar Pujara, the teenage triple-century sensation who has tried to make his way in Test cricket the old-fashioned way? Without knowledge, will fans support their side when the going gets tough?
The London-based East India Company has released a limited-edition legal tender coin commemorating the career of Sachin Tendulkar. The 24-carat gold coin weighs precisely 200g - to mark the 200 Test matches that Tendulkar played - has the number 187 on it - to mark his Test cap number - and only 210 of them - for unspecified reasons - will go on sale for £12,000 each.
"We had been talking to Tendulkar since last December as we thought it would be the best way to immortalise an exceptional career spanning over 24 years," said Sanjiv Mehta, CEO of the East India Company, speaking to Gulf News. "There were some delays in the way as we had to secure the rights for producing it from the Commonwealth currency issuing authority but it was worth the wait."
Mehta added that the company would also mint coins in "one ounce, one-fourth ounce gold and half-an-ounce silver".
Apart from an autographed bat and a helmet, the coin face also features the Gateway of India to symbolise his hometown Mumbai.
"All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India," Tendulkar said. "I am very fortunate to have lived this dream for the last 24 years. I am honoured to be recognised with the issue of these special coins, which have been impressively designed with a lot of thought."
Stuart Broad has a endured winter riddled with disappointment, in Australia and then in the World T20. He was likely to receive a sour welcome on the return Ashes series after choosing not to walk when he nicked to first slip. He had sought psychiatric help, but in an interview with Donald McRae for Guardian, Broad recounts how the events of the first day of the Brisbane Test were beyond what he expected.
Broad looks almost shocked again. How did he feel amid such raw animosity? "I just went 'Wow - that's 50,000 people properly booing me'. It ruffled me and I bowled a no-ball with my first delivery. I also slung one down leg side in that over. So I must admit I was shaken by it.
"But I got a wicket with my first ball next over and I felt fine. I went down to deep square and the whole crowd stood up and shouted and I had a singalong with them and just relaxed. There was a moment when I found myself whistling along to 'Broady is a wanker' and I thought: 'What am I doing here?' It was a hell of an experience for a 27-year-old to go through. I'll never face anything that tough again."
MS Dhoni has always been a popular cricketer and he added another to the legion of his supporters when he gifted a Pakistan fan a complimentary pass to India's World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka.
Mohammed Bashir, a Pakistan fan from Chicago, has been a familiar face at most Pakistan games and he was spotted by the Indian captain at India's training session on the eve of the final.
"Dhoni is familiar with my face as he has seen me before the Champions Trophy's Indo-Pak game in Birmingham. I told him that I don't have a ticket to watch the finals," Bashir told PTI. "Dhoni then called some Kaka [India's masseur Ramesh Mane] and told him to arrange for my ticket. Kaka promptly gave me a complimentary pass. I am completely moved by his gesture."
There was one more little gift in store for Bashir, courtesy Dhoni. "He asked about me and I told him that I am settled in Chicago," Bashir said. "[Then], since I was standing there for a long time, he told someone to give me fruits. I am a Pakistan fan but for today, I am a Dhoni fan."