December 9, 2011

Why India needs to push cricket more

All the signs are that cricket isn't automatically getting the eyeballs it used to in the past. There needs to be a concerted effort to market it better
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Powered thus far by a seemingly insatiable consumer and a buoyant economy, Indian cricket might just be headed for a little bit of turbulence. Television ratings are down, stadiums aren't as full as before, the social media are giving voice to unrest at the way the game is being offered, and television companies are cutting costs. The cricket world must hope that all will be well again soon, and that possessing a ticket to a big game will again be seen as a status symbol.

To be fair there is no challenger to cricket in sight, not yet, but this was supposed to be the bumper year for fans and television networks. In the space of 12 months, India were to host the World Cup, the IPL, travel to England and finally to Australia. Outside of India v Pakistan, those are the four biggest events in Indian cricket. But if it didn't turn out to be the year it was meant to be, it was because, apart from all those, fans also had the Champions League, two series against West Indies, and a set of one-day games against England. There was biryani on offer but there was too much of it.

Meanwhile football grows in popularity every day, and while the numbers aren't challenging cricket yet, they are notching up impressive growth. Formula 1 was accepted with great excitement and there is a hockey league in the pipeline that deserves to be successful - if not for anything else, to remind arrogant officials that an alternative exists. Marketers, though, are looking beyond, at what engages today's youth, and social media and music are emerging as pretty likeable pastimes. Cricket cannot exist, and proclaim itself to be unchallenged, in the narrow definition of sport; it must reign in the wider world of entertainment. The Economic Times this week did a lead feature on alternatives to cricket; at lower price points, it seems marketers are willing to buy into them.

This is not meant to be an obituary, just a wake-up call. A reminder that seemingly unchallenged product categories and brands can suddenly be threatened. Kodachrome is gone, Nokia has been to the brink, and American Airlines is threatened. The euro is being looked at anew, countries are mulling their existences, and the 140-character statement is rampant. The owners of cricket need to be vigilant too, need to constantly review their product offering for relevance and quantity. And be ready for the inevitable dip in viewership once Sachin Tendulkar retires.

It means the game needs to be marketed in India. Only the IPL did that in recent times, reaching out to people and offering an entertainment package. The BCCI needs to be aware that coming to stadiums is currently a cumbersome process for spectators, and television companies will have to be careful to see that the telecasts they produce are the best possible. We sat on concrete steps once, five sitting where three were meant to, and didn't complain. The younger generation, the current custodians of the game, aren't going to be as patient. And they shouldn't have to be.

Marketers are looking at what engages today's youth, and social media and music are emerging as pretty likeable pastimes. Cricket cannot exist, and proclaim itself to be unchallenged, in the narrow definition of sport; it must reign in the wider world of entertainment

Already the Test championship is gone, not because the ICC is insensitive but because it didn't justify the rights amount attached to it. It was a shootout with a one-day tournament and the Test championship lost. It is unlikely the next set of ICC rights will attract the kind of numbers that exist now, and the latest television rights to cricket in India showed no increase over the earlier set. It has implications for the development of the game in other parts of the world.

We are seeing, too, the first signs of the prioritisation of the game along commercial lines. India go to England again in three rather than four years, to play five rather than four Tests. Australia have revived the tri-series because with India around, non-home games still have some interest. But the numbers will be watched closely. India v England didn't get the audiences it was meant to, and that is why Australia v India will be a huge test. If viewership is low, it will be further proof that even marquee series are now being affected. But the bigger test will be the IPL. Advertisers love it because it gives uniform viewership figures, but advertisers can only love it if the public does.

If India's cricket lovers show reduced interest in these prime properties, the BCCI will have to start doing something it has never had to do before: take the game to the public and sell it to them. Hopefully they will realise that people need to look forward to a feast, not be offered it every day; that people must say, "Wow, biryani", not "Biryani again?"

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • chsj on December 12, 2011, 21:43 GMT

    After that a repeat(in reverse though) that too ODIs, with England - how interesting can that be? If Swann trashed the series - for his own reasons - ineffect he was verbalizing what we felt. And then Windies - frankly I wished after all that passed, for one. Indian team get beaten in some more matches, this time by Windies, and Sachin not scoring a hundred. Indian team did not oblige but Sachin did - Sachin usually does for such wishes - like he does not score a lot after getting beaten or reprieved many times and does not thrash minnows. Really wins or hundreds against the Windies after THAT England tour - what do they count for? Now we can look squarely at the other dis-un- interesting factor of Indian cricket - bowling. Not a single bowler looks threatening against decent teams - I reserve opinion on Ashwin till he plays one of Aus, England, SA or Pakistan teams. For all the batting records and performances, it is bowlers who make Cricket interesting. The reasons why WI of 80s,

  • chsj on December 12, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    Harsha,

    A good topic and interesting in that the really the insatiable appetite of Indian cricket followers is waning. I like to offer myself as a case - and see if there are pointers other than those related to Marketers and administrators - namely cricket itself. The interest lowers when Cricket dished out itself is below par. For Indian fans this means Indian team performance and also a certain individual's performance who carries as much weightage as the team with fans like me (many times more). The England tour was one I really looked forward to - but look at Indian team performance there and the we were left squeamish and totally deflated. Everything other than Dravid was humiliating. Not the defeats themselves but the manner of losing. And Mr. Tendulkar's non-performance further demoralized(dont mind if similar performance by a Kohli or Raina would have cemented their places in the team - but it is TENDULKAR we are looking at right?) .

  • Biggus on December 12, 2011, 10:54 GMT

    Were there really that many 'true' cricket lovers in India? Perhaps the recent slump is due to the masses that were drawn to the instant gratification on the IPL moving on to their next instant thrill.

  • on December 11, 2011, 17:12 GMT

    Harsha has touched upon a very interesting point. The viewpoint that an overdose of cricket is resulting in lack of interest among viewers is compelling, and backed by clear evidence of falling attendances at stadiums. However, if one were to step outside cricket and India, then baseball in the U.S. for example is a sport that stages hundreds of Major league and Minor league games in a year. Even then, there is a huge fan following, stadium attendances are good, and in general viewership is not affected so much by the fatigue-factor. Perhaps there is something to be learned there ? Possibly the time has come when BCCI and others should leverage the inevitable convergence of sports and entertainment, and come out with new ways to market the sport better to stay relevant to the new generation of fans/consumers (as indeed they did with the IPL)

  • on December 11, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    The problem is too much cricket. IPL is fun but does not evoke the same loyalty as matches between countries. In fact there is no tension...unlike an Ind v Pak fixtue. Moreover, the economy is bad. The normal man has to struggle at work as even IT companies have become stricter due to recession. Plus the scams have had an effect. The new gen has other interests beside sports...a quality life in the US or elsewhere. So cricket is not seen in the same way as a few years back.

  • on December 11, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    overkill. period. the bcci needs to humble down. The surplus it seems to be resting on is slowly corroding. this is why young leadership is so important. and as usual, this is where the "elders" need to gracefully exit for the greater good of the game.

  • ankur.24 on December 10, 2011, 21:04 GMT

    I think the problem for a comparatively lesser amount of cricket viewers across the country is just because of the kind of tournaments which have been played by India in recent times. The no. of viewers at first dropped during India's tour of West Indies just because the quality of cricket and competition over there was not that much Exciting , Secondly in England an abrupt increase in no. of injuries to Indian players(especially Zaheer Khan and the exceptional poor performance of the team lead to an exponential decrease in number of viewers and the third one against England was completely one sided. Over the West Indies' tour, the absence of gayle and some more exciting players from West Indian side lead to a decrease in no. of viewers albeit the series is fascinating. The Australian side on the other hand is a much better opponent and no. of viewers will increase and perhaps no need of marketing is required to get the fans back to their seats.

  • on December 10, 2011, 19:30 GMT

    Lets come to IPL... as a pakistani I have no interest in it... I enjoyed the first IPL and for that matter the ICL season with the Lahore Badshas... why? because Pakistani players were playing in it... though I am all for the leagues like IPL or ICL... as long as they dont interfere with the international calender... but I dont like the new trend where players are more interested in the IPL games than their national teams... like a lot of westindians wont be available for their national side for the upcoming series with Australia... this is wrong... I enjoyed the recent ODI series between PAK and BANG... not because Pak won but because Bangalis had the guts to make spinning wickets knowing fully well that Pak has one of the best spin attacks in the world... not like some Ind-Pak series where they played on dead wickets... people come to see exciting and close matches even if their team looses... so much to say... so little time...

  • m_ilind on December 10, 2011, 17:03 GMT

    Cricket enjoys a natural popularity in India that other sports don't, for whatever reason! If the game is losing popularity with the masses in India, it means that either the youth are not too oriented towards the game either because of lack of space & time, or there is an overdose of cricket. Indian fans would love to see marquee contests like an Ind/Pak series, which goes beyond just cricket itself! I don't think adding more frizzle to cricket like the IPL does will work, since cricket is not just a spectator sport like car racing etc.

  • on December 10, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    It's simple - we watch when we win or else we do something useful. The viewership drop is mainly because of India's horrible show in England. For instance, during the England series, I neither turned on the sports channel nor came to Cricinfo. If India wins at MCG you will see excitement in India, and if it goes kaput then no TV money. So, forget marketing, ask Team India to be serious and win the game.

  • chsj on December 12, 2011, 21:43 GMT

    After that a repeat(in reverse though) that too ODIs, with England - how interesting can that be? If Swann trashed the series - for his own reasons - ineffect he was verbalizing what we felt. And then Windies - frankly I wished after all that passed, for one. Indian team get beaten in some more matches, this time by Windies, and Sachin not scoring a hundred. Indian team did not oblige but Sachin did - Sachin usually does for such wishes - like he does not score a lot after getting beaten or reprieved many times and does not thrash minnows. Really wins or hundreds against the Windies after THAT England tour - what do they count for? Now we can look squarely at the other dis-un- interesting factor of Indian cricket - bowling. Not a single bowler looks threatening against decent teams - I reserve opinion on Ashwin till he plays one of Aus, England, SA or Pakistan teams. For all the batting records and performances, it is bowlers who make Cricket interesting. The reasons why WI of 80s,

  • chsj on December 12, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    Harsha,

    A good topic and interesting in that the really the insatiable appetite of Indian cricket followers is waning. I like to offer myself as a case - and see if there are pointers other than those related to Marketers and administrators - namely cricket itself. The interest lowers when Cricket dished out itself is below par. For Indian fans this means Indian team performance and also a certain individual's performance who carries as much weightage as the team with fans like me (many times more). The England tour was one I really looked forward to - but look at Indian team performance there and the we were left squeamish and totally deflated. Everything other than Dravid was humiliating. Not the defeats themselves but the manner of losing. And Mr. Tendulkar's non-performance further demoralized(dont mind if similar performance by a Kohli or Raina would have cemented their places in the team - but it is TENDULKAR we are looking at right?) .

  • Biggus on December 12, 2011, 10:54 GMT

    Were there really that many 'true' cricket lovers in India? Perhaps the recent slump is due to the masses that were drawn to the instant gratification on the IPL moving on to their next instant thrill.

  • on December 11, 2011, 17:12 GMT

    Harsha has touched upon a very interesting point. The viewpoint that an overdose of cricket is resulting in lack of interest among viewers is compelling, and backed by clear evidence of falling attendances at stadiums. However, if one were to step outside cricket and India, then baseball in the U.S. for example is a sport that stages hundreds of Major league and Minor league games in a year. Even then, there is a huge fan following, stadium attendances are good, and in general viewership is not affected so much by the fatigue-factor. Perhaps there is something to be learned there ? Possibly the time has come when BCCI and others should leverage the inevitable convergence of sports and entertainment, and come out with new ways to market the sport better to stay relevant to the new generation of fans/consumers (as indeed they did with the IPL)

  • on December 11, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    The problem is too much cricket. IPL is fun but does not evoke the same loyalty as matches between countries. In fact there is no tension...unlike an Ind v Pak fixtue. Moreover, the economy is bad. The normal man has to struggle at work as even IT companies have become stricter due to recession. Plus the scams have had an effect. The new gen has other interests beside sports...a quality life in the US or elsewhere. So cricket is not seen in the same way as a few years back.

  • on December 11, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    overkill. period. the bcci needs to humble down. The surplus it seems to be resting on is slowly corroding. this is why young leadership is so important. and as usual, this is where the "elders" need to gracefully exit for the greater good of the game.

  • ankur.24 on December 10, 2011, 21:04 GMT

    I think the problem for a comparatively lesser amount of cricket viewers across the country is just because of the kind of tournaments which have been played by India in recent times. The no. of viewers at first dropped during India's tour of West Indies just because the quality of cricket and competition over there was not that much Exciting , Secondly in England an abrupt increase in no. of injuries to Indian players(especially Zaheer Khan and the exceptional poor performance of the team lead to an exponential decrease in number of viewers and the third one against England was completely one sided. Over the West Indies' tour, the absence of gayle and some more exciting players from West Indian side lead to a decrease in no. of viewers albeit the series is fascinating. The Australian side on the other hand is a much better opponent and no. of viewers will increase and perhaps no need of marketing is required to get the fans back to their seats.

  • on December 10, 2011, 19:30 GMT

    Lets come to IPL... as a pakistani I have no interest in it... I enjoyed the first IPL and for that matter the ICL season with the Lahore Badshas... why? because Pakistani players were playing in it... though I am all for the leagues like IPL or ICL... as long as they dont interfere with the international calender... but I dont like the new trend where players are more interested in the IPL games than their national teams... like a lot of westindians wont be available for their national side for the upcoming series with Australia... this is wrong... I enjoyed the recent ODI series between PAK and BANG... not because Pak won but because Bangalis had the guts to make spinning wickets knowing fully well that Pak has one of the best spin attacks in the world... not like some Ind-Pak series where they played on dead wickets... people come to see exciting and close matches even if their team looses... so much to say... so little time...

  • m_ilind on December 10, 2011, 17:03 GMT

    Cricket enjoys a natural popularity in India that other sports don't, for whatever reason! If the game is losing popularity with the masses in India, it means that either the youth are not too oriented towards the game either because of lack of space & time, or there is an overdose of cricket. Indian fans would love to see marquee contests like an Ind/Pak series, which goes beyond just cricket itself! I don't think adding more frizzle to cricket like the IPL does will work, since cricket is not just a spectator sport like car racing etc.

  • on December 10, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    It's simple - we watch when we win or else we do something useful. The viewership drop is mainly because of India's horrible show in England. For instance, during the England series, I neither turned on the sports channel nor came to Cricinfo. If India wins at MCG you will see excitement in India, and if it goes kaput then no TV money. So, forget marketing, ask Team India to be serious and win the game.

  • SkTheKing on December 10, 2011, 11:20 GMT

    well its true..........BUT the india WI odi series is attracting crowds as before.

  • on December 10, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    Just stop ipl and everything will be fine. The viewers and players will get the much needed break during that time.

  • on December 10, 2011, 4:56 GMT

    Great article. But besides, the steps suggested by Harsha, I would suggest a few more steps: 1- Reduce the number of international fixtures 2- Improve the quality of domestic cricket 3- Chuck IPL and strengthen the Mushtaq Ali trophy. Allow foreign players to the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy.

  • TATTUs on December 10, 2011, 3:49 GMT

    Lol Harsha..marketing and sports..dont go well together..because sports men and sports lovers atleast when they are involved in a sport are big hearted and are too weak to get into the nuances of marketing. Make the pitches better, take out stupid rules and help lesser teams...thats all that is required...

    BCCI is like a kid in the gullies who has his own bat and ball and blackmails the others to let him bat else no play...

  • on December 9, 2011, 23:56 GMT

    Send a few injured cricketers like Bhaji and Warne into the bigg boss house. They will bring you the crowd with their off field drama. There is no showmanship in today's cricket. Thanks to ICC cricket is a pure gentlemen's game. No searing on the field, no Miandad jumping up and down for a failed appeal. Bring back the emotions the crowd will follow. Ind v Pak, the ashes the rivalry is dead. We seems to play cricket for the sake of running a profitable business. Get rid of ICC fining cricketers for being human. Dont turn them into some kind of english royalty. Haven't seen a press conf where rivalry and pride is discussed. It is always about the weather, the pitch or the team changes. Two balls and not loosing is more important than winning the match. Who wants to see such a match.

  • Optimistix on December 9, 2011, 22:40 GMT

    Much as I love cricket, it will be no bad thing for other sports to gain at cricket's expense in India - there's little chance of cricket not being among the top sports even if interest dwindles by say 25%. So the only people who should worry about cricket losing popularity are those who directly make their living from it.

  • BibhuMisra on December 9, 2011, 16:58 GMT

    The cricket viewership and interest was pretty high all through the World Cup and then dropped it dropped off drastically after the 4-0 whitewash in England. One does not have to be a genius to figure out the real reason. Real cricket lovers do not want an Indian team that prioritizes T20 and IPL tournaments over test cricket, and play like disinterested club teams when they tour. England tour was a disgrace, half the side not being fit enough to play. If the marketing of IPL and T20 continues, not only will the standard of the game deteriorate because of fatigue and overkill, but the real cricket lovers will be alienated. Only circus lovers will turn up to watch T20, and cricket will become the circus that comes to town every winter.

  • on December 9, 2011, 16:31 GMT

    Think the problem is that we are still trying to look at every cricket match as a national event as it once used to be. Marketing was very easy when that was the case. But, it has come at a cost. Eventually, the Market has to readjust itself to cater to a wide range of choices and I hope we are seeing the beginning of that phase. It can only be a good thing. Maybe other sports and cultural afflictions will get a critical mass that can sustain it's own Market, which can only be good for the community on a larger scale...

  • muski on December 9, 2011, 14:03 GMT

    @Rajkumar Goyal- You seem to be saying that Cricket is responsible for all other sports not developing. That is an highly flawed theory. There are myriad factors for this- bureaucratic sports federations run by people who do not understand the sport, lack of financial security if a sportsman tends to pursue sports as a career, lack of sports infrastructure ( Bindra won the Gold becoz his dad set up a Shooting range for him), no proper sports policy ( we need Mr Maken as sports minister for another 50 years to change our sports culture). Corporates will bet on those horses who show the talent. Why will anyone sponsor our football team if we get beaten black and blue by a lowly ranked African team. What is AILTF doing to groom potential grand slammers. Do we have any name worth the salt in swimming or gymnastics. Why are Chinese ( who I would dare say are at a disadvantage in their physique) producing world champions in these sports. The questions are many- the answers are far and few

  • muski on December 9, 2011, 13:46 GMT

    Harsha- Even though you say its not an obituary, looks like you have already seen the doomsday ahead. I dont know why you are also blown off with the wind of the " entertainment" factor in cricket. Are you saying test cricket also needs cheer girls dancing out there for a boundary or a six. I have been following cricket since 1979 and even though could afford to go to the stadium to watch matches, could not in most cases get the tickets ( more so for ODI's). Now with the overdose as we see it, genuine cricket lovers will throng the stadium as long as there is a good cricket- certainly not for substandard teams like the current Windies team. When Sunny went, Sachin came. When Sachin is about to go, youngsters like Rohit and Virat are coming into the horizon. Viewership has never been about individuals. If that is so,football would have been dead and buried after Pele or Maradona. Finally for good marketeers look back to Lalit or Dalmiya. After all no one is an adversary for life!

  • on December 9, 2011, 12:44 GMT

    for god sake stop IPL or atleast make it once in 2 yrs..

  • rko_rules on December 9, 2011, 12:27 GMT

    This is for Harsha Sir, who have written that we, Indians have to promote Cricket more and for any Indian team member who is reading. We are diehard fans of Cricket. BUT, if you are going to keep promoting 125k trundlers time and again, We are not going to watch Cricket. We have seen trundlers bowling for India for the last 40 years, sick and tired of this and they just keep on coming up with new trundlers. India has so much talent and so, so many fast bowlers. You need to find them, promote them, encourage them. For god's sake, just look at Vinay kumar, does he looks like a fast bowler to you. He is 5'8(average but very under standard for an Intl Fast bowler) and just a 125k bowler. Can he terrify batsmen with his bowling, No, Can he sledge like Sreesanth, NO. Can he swing like Praveen, NO. He can only gain sympathy instead of terrifying the opposition. Dhoni says, he wants spinning pitches. I say, brother, we dont have interest in Cricket anymore till you play proper fast bowlers

  • josh2david on December 9, 2011, 12:16 GMT

    You can't keep the senior players for decades just for the sake of statistics as dravid retired from odi tendulkar shouldn't be the obstacle for young talents, you could see India invented plenty of cricketers , thank for ipl. Don't forget when tendulkar started playing virat kholi wasn't born, it's reduculous to say stadium will be deserted when tendulkar quit cricket.

  • Smithie on December 9, 2011, 12:07 GMT

    Accept DRS for starters. The number of howlers in the current WI/India games makes cricket look foolish. Pleased to see Pakistan Eng will use it in their next series. India will be made to look silly by the high tech Channel 9 coverage of the next India matches Down Under. Will Indian viewers take the Channel 9 feed with all the DRS analysis or will they be force fed the censored BCCI coverage ( and commentary by the two stooges Gavaskar and Shastri) No wonder the number of eyeballs are reducing!

  • liaqathussain on December 9, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    bring china in to the game,, play the ipl season in china for once,

  • RajKumarGoyal on December 9, 2011, 11:04 GMT

    Good signs for other sports in India. I had been waiting to see a football match of India atleast to telecast in in a sports channel. It happened after Zee sports arrived. Why can't a 1.3 billion country stand in last 32 of the world in football. And why cant we have a single tennis player who can go to Semifinal atleast in a grandslam. For how long we should satisfy with 1 gold or 1 bronze in olympics. Let the other sports blossom in India. Time for the other sports. Disagree with you Harsha. Cricket can never be ignored India. Its only over cricket reduced some attention and ppl have many things to care where inflation is increasing in an infinite loop. If BCCI gives a break of 2 months, ppl and conduct IPL, all the stadiums will be over flown. And one more alternative is to conduct International matches in not IPL cities. Vizag and Cuttuck stadiums were over flown even against WI. what say?

  • DasaradhiR on December 9, 2011, 11:02 GMT

    Over dose of T20 in the form of IPL killed genuine interest of ardent fans. Qulaity of bowling went down. Wickets are not earned, they come by way of reckless shot making. Consistent fight between bat and ball is missing. Invariably Bat dominates. I am not sure why commentators say "Beauty of a wicket" when it favours the batsmen, knowing the low scoring matches are more thrilling. South african fast bowler Stein recently admitted, how the fast bowler goes down just after few seasons of good cricket. With this kind of cricket played, I cant really think of seeing a batsmen like Dravid/Ponting/Sachin/Ganguly lasting long in future. SAVE CRICKET PLEASE...

  • bsksara on December 9, 2011, 10:49 GMT

    Very good point i do think after Sachin, Dravid, Ponting retires viewership will fall. I am one of them.

  • raj_che on December 9, 2011, 10:24 GMT

    Nice article!! I would want to focus more on the spectators point of view of wathcing cricket in the stadiums.To be frank it is more of a torture chamber rather than an enjoyable moment to watch cricket in the stadiums.You have a hell lot of restrictions as a spectator when you enter the stadium. You are not allowed any refreshements food etc. Agree as this will make sure that things are kept clean but at the same time, they need to provide a good alternative for what a spectator loses. I have been to the MAC stadium in chennai for the past 15 yrs. It is way below the normal standards. You have sub standard food toilet parking facilities and you do not have that feel good factor of watching the match. Afterall we pay almost 1000 rs for a ticket and it is considered as a luxury segment as far as the price goes. High time that the administration looks to revive the feel good factor of watching matches in the stadium. this would ensure more people come to the satdium and watch cricket.

  • Sudhakar86 on December 9, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    @And be ready for the inevitable dip in viewership once Sachin Tendulkar retires. +infinity

    I would definitely stop watching cricket completely n look for some soccer,NBA stuffs. I like the game only coz of GOD SRT n there is no meaning to watch cricket once he retires! Hope that day never comes n GOD keeps playing !

  • Y2SJ on December 9, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    I would not mind watching Test or ODI cricket every single day. I was fascinated by Kapil, then Sachin, then Yuvraj and now Kohli. The problem I find is the state of the stadiums. No proper rest rooms, too much security, high priced tickets and snacks. If the BCCI concentrates on improving this, I wouldnt mind watching any Test/ODI whene ever it happens in South India in stadium.

  • anshu.s on December 9, 2011, 9:49 GMT

    Well i seriously pity the likes of dariuscorny and there irrational hatred of club cricket.....world over in all professional sports club structure remains paramount weather it's European Soccer leagues,American sports franchises,etc.Country v/s country is only played in form of a World cup/Euro championship/Copa Ameica and the qualifying process for it.I feel that IPL franchises have a huge role to play in expanding the local base and allowing more n more cricketers to share the spotlight with bigger stars,IPL should be allowed to enter in 50-50 over competition n allow internationl teams to play test cricket and play 50 overs n 20 over cricket world cup every 4 n 2 years respectively,perhaps one can also have a marquee 50 over bilateral series twice a year....but for all this to happen BCCI needs to take a lead n bring other boards in to confidence... i finally agree with Gizza that Indians can follow 3 differrent sports at a time without cutting into each other's popularity .

  • varunrallapalli on December 9, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    India being the Financial hub of Cricket needs to fine tune its methods and strategies in order to maintain the craze cricket enjoys...It is imperative for ICC that instead of giving more importance to ODIs, it needs to divert its attention towards more spectator interest in Test cricket. ODIs and T20s are more prone to being boring for spectators since they are dished in day in and day out with Batting friendly surfaces and small grounds. Enhancing the interest in cricket does not mean that other sports in the country are threatened...furthermore it is motivation for other sports to enhance reputation and craze.There should be healthy competition between Sports bodies in any country.

  • vaidyar on December 9, 2011, 8:45 GMT

    Maybe just watch whenever Tendulkar plays and miss those he skips. He knows what's not important to give it a miss :)

  • on December 9, 2011, 7:41 GMT

    Spot on again Harsha. Growing up in suburban Mumbai in the 90s, cricket was a major part of my childhood. Yet I see a definite dip in cricket's popularity among the teens and kids of India today. Meaningless matches, sub standard commentary, too many advertisements and above all - TOO MUCH CRICKET have taken away the thrill. waking up at 3 am to watch India v/s Aus in Oz, staying up till 3-4 am to watch India v/s WI, all this seems to be lost on the youth. Lets hope the men with the reins can bring back the magic again.

  • kasturi on December 9, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    There is no order/regularity in which test cricket is held by BCCI. As observed in countries like England/Australia/South Africa test cricket starts on Wednesday/Thursday end on Sunday/Monday In india there is no specific order it starts any day. In these days it is unrealistic to expect to take time off from work and go to stadium which itself is a huge task and not to speak of the facilities & restriction it offers. BCCI should make efforts to make test cricket as a picnic spot for entire family not a zoo with cages spectators

  • Gizza on December 9, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Just to add to my previous post, out of the 1.2 billion Indians, many of them can follow more than one sport. Even sports played during the same time. In Australia, the main alternatives to cricket are the football codes which are played in winter. But even during summer I know many Aussies who follow both cricket and tennis. January is the month of the New Year's Test in Sydney and the start of the Australian Open. Likewise the huge number of Indians in this world in combination with the fact that a person can like a second sport without giving up the first sport means this alleged threat to cricket as argued by Harsha Bhogle is nonexistent. I do remember the late Peter Roebuck writing a few similar articles and I always thought this area was his weakest.

  • Gizza on December 9, 2011, 6:44 GMT

    Lame article. What's wrong with a country following multiple sports? Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand all play and follow mainstream sports other than cricket. It is a good thing for non-cricket sports to flourish in the subcontinent because the fans won't be as sensitive as they currently are when their team loses or star batsman gets out (as in less effigy burning and stoning of houses). If games like football, F1, hockey and kabaddi expand in India it shouldn't be a threat. India's population is 1.2 billion or 120 crore. And the number is rapidly increasing. Seriously there is plenty of space of more sports to become popular in India and the subcontinent more generally. And FYI, F1 does not compete in the same market as it is only a spectator sport and cannot be played in the streets, parks and gallis like cricket, basketball or football.

  • Positive_Critic on December 9, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    Do we not feel the game is going through an overall draught. For once lets leave aside the money, fans and other things that propel the game and just concentrate on the teams.

    Granted NZ were never a champion side but I always loved their grit and determination. They were always giving the so called champions a run for their money both home and away. Off late I have started worrying about the future of NZ Cricket.

    WI have had a slump which needs to attention.

    Pakistan cricket is suddenly looking up after the SL series, but they are no more the team of late 80's or early 90's

    Zimbabwe at some point rose to pretty decent standards and now are fighting for existence.

    These are teams that always posed a decent challenge, a decade ago and suddenly they are going through a trough.

    I may be overreacting but the below par fielding standards in the SA Aus series and also in the first test of Aus - NZ is also a cause of worry. Talking of 3 best fielding units, aren't we.

  • on December 9, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    Another gem form you harsha...as you said postponment of test championship is a great loss to cricket as there were no legends to play test in 2017..includind sachin tendulkar,dravid,kallis,laxman,ponting,chanderpaul... spectators dont want to watch one sided cricket..thoudgh inda vs westindies is a complete thriller...but wat abt bangladesh vs pakistan..no crowds there to.. and as you once said in "the rise of cricket, rise of india"we need things to be localised in all part of the worlds as..mumbai indians do ..for mumbai indians campaign that was very own mumbai style.. test is only soul of cricket ..we have to promote test cricket..as mca done this year in match between india vs westindies...ticket prices are low as rupees 50 and students got tickets free..!!!

  • tick on December 9, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    come on people...we need pak vs india..otherwise not much interest in cricket...

  • SpeedCricketThrills on December 9, 2011, 5:55 GMT

    Fans have begun to realize that they are patronizing a sport that doesn't offer much to them in retun while they shell down lot of money to watch the match and lot of time as well. I do not want to give "free consultancy" to elaborate on what I mean ;-) I am sure there will be plenty who can understand what I mean ;-)

  • Cpt.Meanster on December 9, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    Dear Harsha, while I do agree that test match cricket is the 'PRIMARY' format of the game, I still feel it's a long and boring format of the game. It's a format that will only appeal to the hardcore purist. People today don't have the time or patience to watch test cricket. It's a sad but genuine fact. Especially in India with the BCCI around, test cricket is getting a raw deal. We saw that during the recent West Indies series where the test matches ended on Saturdays. Such ridiculous scheduling isn't doing test cricket any favors. On the other hand, T20s and ODIs are given proper marketing and attention by pretty much every cricket board of the world. Even the players to certain extent will agree that test cricket, though supreme, falls flat when it comes to attracting populace. This is however an exception in England and Australia given they are kind of like the founding fathers of cricket. Finally, the IPL according to me is TOO LONG. It has to be cut down to 3 weeks from 4.

  • dariuscorny on December 9, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    well we witnessed low audience attendence this year itself in IPL.what more to say.it was coming IPL will destroy everything

  • on December 9, 2011, 5:24 GMT

    Cricket doesn't need better marketing, just lesser but more meaningful matches...

  • kapilesh23 on December 9, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    Yes it is a overkill not only because there are too many matches but also because of BCCI s tendency to create no competition between bat and bowl .Its always bat in India .I am Indian I want to see less and meaningful cricket matches with better balance between bat and bowl .As I say that I would also like to mention that I have stopped watching Ipl and Champions trophy crap long time ago .I don't care if sachin tendulkar is gone I am not brain washed . If there is quality cricket I would watch it .

  • kuku_cricket_fanatic on December 9, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    Nice article Harsha and quite pertinent timing too. Its time cricket administrations ( read BCCI ) acknowledge that they need to run the sport better. More will no longer remain merrier. Bottomline is that we have severe cricket indigestion and if you add arrogance of administrators, poor viewing conditions in stadiums across India, inconsistent policies and lack of vision around promoting the game amongst affiliates, administration-player issues in some countries and most importantly game increasingly becoming a 4 nation "contest" - we have all the symptoms of a chronic disorder. Just hope that it does not become fatal. Its not just TV viewership, there are many lovers of the game like me who have stopped reading about cricket. Its no more the joyous experience it used to be. Except for a Viru 200, F1, EPL and a champion challenger hockey tournament is a better read in the sports columns of our newspapers.

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  • kuku_cricket_fanatic on December 9, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    Nice article Harsha and quite pertinent timing too. Its time cricket administrations ( read BCCI ) acknowledge that they need to run the sport better. More will no longer remain merrier. Bottomline is that we have severe cricket indigestion and if you add arrogance of administrators, poor viewing conditions in stadiums across India, inconsistent policies and lack of vision around promoting the game amongst affiliates, administration-player issues in some countries and most importantly game increasingly becoming a 4 nation "contest" - we have all the symptoms of a chronic disorder. Just hope that it does not become fatal. Its not just TV viewership, there are many lovers of the game like me who have stopped reading about cricket. Its no more the joyous experience it used to be. Except for a Viru 200, F1, EPL and a champion challenger hockey tournament is a better read in the sports columns of our newspapers.

  • kapilesh23 on December 9, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    Yes it is a overkill not only because there are too many matches but also because of BCCI s tendency to create no competition between bat and bowl .Its always bat in India .I am Indian I want to see less and meaningful cricket matches with better balance between bat and bowl .As I say that I would also like to mention that I have stopped watching Ipl and Champions trophy crap long time ago .I don't care if sachin tendulkar is gone I am not brain washed . If there is quality cricket I would watch it .

  • on December 9, 2011, 5:24 GMT

    Cricket doesn't need better marketing, just lesser but more meaningful matches...

  • dariuscorny on December 9, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    well we witnessed low audience attendence this year itself in IPL.what more to say.it was coming IPL will destroy everything

  • Cpt.Meanster on December 9, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    Dear Harsha, while I do agree that test match cricket is the 'PRIMARY' format of the game, I still feel it's a long and boring format of the game. It's a format that will only appeal to the hardcore purist. People today don't have the time or patience to watch test cricket. It's a sad but genuine fact. Especially in India with the BCCI around, test cricket is getting a raw deal. We saw that during the recent West Indies series where the test matches ended on Saturdays. Such ridiculous scheduling isn't doing test cricket any favors. On the other hand, T20s and ODIs are given proper marketing and attention by pretty much every cricket board of the world. Even the players to certain extent will agree that test cricket, though supreme, falls flat when it comes to attracting populace. This is however an exception in England and Australia given they are kind of like the founding fathers of cricket. Finally, the IPL according to me is TOO LONG. It has to be cut down to 3 weeks from 4.

  • SpeedCricketThrills on December 9, 2011, 5:55 GMT

    Fans have begun to realize that they are patronizing a sport that doesn't offer much to them in retun while they shell down lot of money to watch the match and lot of time as well. I do not want to give "free consultancy" to elaborate on what I mean ;-) I am sure there will be plenty who can understand what I mean ;-)

  • tick on December 9, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    come on people...we need pak vs india..otherwise not much interest in cricket...

  • on December 9, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    Another gem form you harsha...as you said postponment of test championship is a great loss to cricket as there were no legends to play test in 2017..includind sachin tendulkar,dravid,kallis,laxman,ponting,chanderpaul... spectators dont want to watch one sided cricket..thoudgh inda vs westindies is a complete thriller...but wat abt bangladesh vs pakistan..no crowds there to.. and as you once said in "the rise of cricket, rise of india"we need things to be localised in all part of the worlds as..mumbai indians do ..for mumbai indians campaign that was very own mumbai style.. test is only soul of cricket ..we have to promote test cricket..as mca done this year in match between india vs westindies...ticket prices are low as rupees 50 and students got tickets free..!!!

  • Positive_Critic on December 9, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    Do we not feel the game is going through an overall draught. For once lets leave aside the money, fans and other things that propel the game and just concentrate on the teams.

    Granted NZ were never a champion side but I always loved their grit and determination. They were always giving the so called champions a run for their money both home and away. Off late I have started worrying about the future of NZ Cricket.

    WI have had a slump which needs to attention.

    Pakistan cricket is suddenly looking up after the SL series, but they are no more the team of late 80's or early 90's

    Zimbabwe at some point rose to pretty decent standards and now are fighting for existence.

    These are teams that always posed a decent challenge, a decade ago and suddenly they are going through a trough.

    I may be overreacting but the below par fielding standards in the SA Aus series and also in the first test of Aus - NZ is also a cause of worry. Talking of 3 best fielding units, aren't we.

  • Gizza on December 9, 2011, 6:44 GMT

    Lame article. What's wrong with a country following multiple sports? Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand all play and follow mainstream sports other than cricket. It is a good thing for non-cricket sports to flourish in the subcontinent because the fans won't be as sensitive as they currently are when their team loses or star batsman gets out (as in less effigy burning and stoning of houses). If games like football, F1, hockey and kabaddi expand in India it shouldn't be a threat. India's population is 1.2 billion or 120 crore. And the number is rapidly increasing. Seriously there is plenty of space of more sports to become popular in India and the subcontinent more generally. And FYI, F1 does not compete in the same market as it is only a spectator sport and cannot be played in the streets, parks and gallis like cricket, basketball or football.