February 22, 2012

How soon before broadcasters have a say in selection?

Television has benefited cricket, but it is a relationship that can get far too cosy for the game's good
28

For Elton John and Bernie Taupin, "sorry" is the hardest word. For a sporting hero, the assemblage of vowels and consonants that does most to fuel dread is "goodbye". Don't just ask Ricky Ponting. Ask the ghost of George Headley.

For the opening Test against England in 1954, West Indies recalled their erstwhile Atlas at a ripe 44; more than five years had passed since his previous cap. That the venue was Sabina Park, in his native Jamaica, was seized on as incontrovertible evidence that a Caribbean custom had been shamelessly upheld. What better way to boost receipts and rum sales than to ensure a local hero - in this case a walking, talking, living legend - was centre stage?

In fairness, Headley had just made a gritty 53 not out against a powerful MCC attack. "That was enough for me," wrote captain Jeff Stollmeyer, who stated in his autobiography that the return of the so-called "black Bradman" was backed by the selectors. Sir Errol dos Santos, the board president, was merely the highest-ranked dissenter.

Beyond Jamaica, noted Stollmeyer, the selection "was greeted with cries of 'cricket politics'… especially after he failed with the bat". (In mitigation, as Stollmeyer duly pointed out, Headley's cheap second-innings dismissal was hastened by Tony Lock's "faster" ball, one the victim claimed he never saw and which would be no-balled by more than one umpire in subsequent weeks.) In his history of West Indies cricket, even Michael Manley observed - somewhat gently, of the fellow Jamaican he had seen plunder 270 off an MCC attack as a ten-year-old and whom he hailed as "black excellence personified in a white world and a white sport" - that it was "a perhaps nostalgic gesture". One can only guess at the depth of disapproval in Wisden: instead of bidding adieu with due reverence, the good book makes no mention of Headley in either its match report or tour summary.

This unhappy footnote to Headley's inspirational career sprang to mind a week or so back in the wake of a tweet by Tony Greig. Bridling at India's decision to rest Sachin Tendulkar in the Commonwealth Bank ODI series, he proposed that Channel 9, his employer, demand a refund - an intriguing possibility. Headley's return to colours may have been just one example of a hometown selection - a temptation particularly easy to succumb to in the Caribbean, where inter-island rivalry courses so deep - but, naïve as it may sound, the idea of a cricketer being chosen to appease or please a broadcaster had honestly never occurred to me. As a lifelong conspiracy theorist, the shame was profound.

Yet the more the thought nagged, the more sense it made - and the dafter I felt. Why wouldn't broadcasters seek to influence selection, especially now that rotation policies, the upshot of a suffocating fixture list, for which they are at least half-responsible, are here to stay? The more eyes glued to the goggle box, the happier broadcasters, and the advertisers and sponsors, are. If that means having a discreet word about the final XI with a captain, coach or chairman, why wouldn't you chance your arm? After all, more movies and plays reach screen and stage because an A-lister owes the producer a favour than because a D-lister was born to play the lead.

The scene is scarcely difficult to envisage:

Producer: "Julian, old bean, I need a solid."

Board chairman: "A solid? What, like a lump of gold?"

Producer: "No, you sweet boy, a favour."

Board chairman: "Oh. Sorry for being so unhip."

Producer: "Fugeddaboutit. Thing is, the advertisers are on my back after those three-day Tests and I need to keep them sweet, so would you mind awfully making sure Davies passes that fitness test and plays today?"

Board chairman: "But the skipper wants to try out this nifty young Glamorgan left-hander. He's averaging 135 in his last six games and our coach reckons he could be the next Hutton."

Producer: "Hutton, schmutton. Look, Julian, darling, I don't want to get all, y'know, heavy on your bottom, but contract negotiations begin next June. You wouldn't want us to reduce our offer, would you?"

To date, the most infamous episode of this ilk occurred hours before the 1998 FIFA World Cup final in Paris, when Ronaldo, Brazil's totemic striker, suffered a seizure. One team-mate remembered him "foaming at the mouth"; the hotel director heard fellow guests wailing, "He's dead, he's dead." Omitted from the starting line-up, then unaccountably restored, he laboured listlessly as France won at a canter.

Not unnaturally, conspiracy theories abounded, prompting an inquiry by the Brazilian parliament: had Nike, to whose marketing campaign Ronaldo was so integral, pressured him, via the national football association, into playing? That it got that far, attested congressman Aldo Rebelo, demonstrated that Nike's contract with the governing body violated "sovereignty, autonomy and national identity". Unsurprisingly, given the colossal sums at stake, Ronaldo and the footwear giant both emerged smelling of Chanel No. 5, but the stench of ethical flexibility retains its potency.

In India Today earlier this month, apropos Messrs Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar, Shantanu Guha Ray touched on this treacherous terrain from another angle: "Retaining all three is not mere sentiment. [The BCCI] knows television viewers tune in to watch familiar faces." The logical extension of this, conversely, is that the resting of Tendulkar bathes the BCCI in a favourable, even courageous, light (ditto Australia's dropping of Ponting). Indeed, if we weren't talking about the BCCI, one would be sorely tempted to use the p-word - principled. Besides, it would take a highly fertile imagination to imagine Tendulkar being rested for the IPL.

"THE SURVIVAL OF CRICKET depends on how it shapes its relationship with broadcasting." Thus did Jack Williams conclude his thorough-going study Cricket and Broadcasting, published last year. A highly respected academic, exaggeration is not among his vices.

Without television, most of us would never have seen a fraction of the goose-pimpling innings and spells and finishes we cherish. Without television we'd be denied all those wondrous/monstrous YouTube clips. Without television we wouldn't be able to talk cricket with anything remotely redolent of knowledge, much less conviction

That relationship may be too cosy by far, on several counts, but only a visually impaired curmudgeon could fail to see the wider benefits. How many games that might otherwise have been delayed or drowned have proceeded purely because cameras were present? While this is by no means always welcome - most notably when conditions are unsuitable overhead or underfoot, or favour one side - it does not seem unreasonable to argue that this aspect has, overall, been a boon. No sport, after all, is so partial to putting its feet up.

Without television, most of us would never have seen a fraction of the goose-pimpling innings and spells and finishes we cherish. Without television we'd be denied all those wondrous/monstrous YouTube clips. Without television we wouldn't be able to talk cricket with anything remotely redolent of knowledge, much less conviction. Without television Richie Benaud would be a common or garden Test captain-turned-hack, David Lloyd an amusing after-dinner speaker, and Bill Lawry a noted pigeon-fancier. And without television, of course, there would be no DRS - which, no matter how fervent a disbeliever you are, can surely be hailed for unskewing the balance between bat and ball.

But there must be a line; a line that must never, ever, be crossed. Trouble is, if it does exist, it is so faint as to be undetectable. How else can we explain the stupefying surfeit of ODIs? How else can we explain the seam-bursting Future Tours Programme, that occasion-neutering lust for quantity over quality? Between January 2013 and February 2016, to cite the most glaring example of foot-blasting lunacy, India are scheduled to play seven-match ODI series against England, South Africa and Australia - the last twice. At the heart of it all, beyond mere greed, lies a sad if forgivable lack of confidence in the product(s), in cricket's capacity to hang on to imaginations and pockets, much less capture those of future generations.

So how Faustian is this pact? Soon enough, the sparring will resume, at stake the ICC's next deal with ESPN STAR (or AN Other Inc). Midway through 2011, word leaked out that the broadcaster wasn't terribly keen on a World Test Championship - which carries no guarantee of Indian involvement - and would rather the chaps in Dubai stuck to the original plans for the Champions Trophy. Sure enough, the first proper test of Testmanship will now not be with us until 2017, at best. Does anyone seriously doubt the ease with which tail is now wagging dog?

In December, however, the backdrop shifted when the BCCI terminated its contract with Nimbus for falling behind on payments. For the first time in two decades, contended Kunal Pradhan in the Economic Times, questions are being raised about "the viability and future of India's cricket economy". Overkill, begetting empty seats and channel-flippers, is part of the problem. Ditto "reality" shows, increasingly seen as a more reliable magnet for the masses. Motor racing and golf, moreover, are said to be challenging cricket's hegemony in reaching those juicy niche markets. Had the BCCI driven up costs, wondered Pradhan, "pushing broadcasters to a point where there is no wriggle room; where any factor, from a struggling global economy to a dull series, can render the telecast of matches unprofitable?"

Then came the bust-up with Sahara: a lesson, dare we hope, in humility and reality. As it is, the sound of bubbles popping is close to deafening. And even if it isn't happening already, how much longer before broadcasters start demanding their pound of flesh and meddling in selection?

Faust, one suspects, would have been proud.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • enigma77543 on February 23, 2012, 18:30 GMT

    Great article, extremely thought-provoking issue! I think profit-motives will always be there no matter what it is that we're talking about, people work for profit/income so they're driven by what their customers want so ultimtely it comes down to the customers (cricket-fans in this case) to question themselves whether they want what they're buying, so the fans also need to realize that the more they cling on to their heroes & focus less on the team's performance, the more such backdoor-decisions become likely so at the end of the day, it's upto the customers since they're the kings of the market

  • Nutcutlet on February 23, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    @Gizza. From everything I have gathered it does appear that Tendulkar on his own has as many fans as the game of cricket itself in India - & he is rightly highly regarded in all cricketing countries. Apart from his impressive batting (when he was truly world class) I am most impressed by his unassuming nature; it must be very difficult for him to live a normal life at home. It would be good to think that he will give something back to the game that has rewarded him so richly. Even so, I have the distinct impression that he is currently enslaved by those who have a vested interest in his reaching this media-driven manufactured record of 100x100 that is virtually meaningless to anyone who is a serious follower of the game. The hero is the slave - how ironic! WG, Jack Hobbs & the Don never had to put up with all the commercial pressure that SRT has loaded upon him, despite the fact that they were all massive national heroes. PS I hope I live to see Rahul Dravid as President of the BCCI!

  • kabe_ag7 on February 23, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    Fair points, Rob. There is something however I don't understand. How can the BCCI be blamed for Test championship not happening? What do the other test playing nations do in the ICC? It's not like India has a veto in the ICC like England and Australia used to have. Surely they don't think that BCCI can harm the pockets of other boards without harming its own? Or is it that they can't get a well paying contract with ESPN for the test championship? So does that mean all the other boards are also equally greedy about it, while conveniently insinuating that BCCI is the one responsible? England and Australia (and they alone) have been playing 7 match ODI series post-Ashes for a long time. And again it's these boards playing 7 match ODI series with India. How is BCCI alone responsible for milking that cow? A lot of such insinuations serve to reduce many debates to simple BCCI-bashing, which the non-Indian media is happy to exploit.

  • shaannn on February 23, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    and if this happens, the team names will b like this-- TEAM BBC, TEAM AAJTAK, TEAM ESS,TEAM CNN, TEAM ALJAZEERA , NEO XI etc etc

  • shaannn on February 23, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    this will never happen......

  • on February 23, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    Why do articles such as these end up with such limited viewer interest and opinion, whilst a match could yield up to 200 plus comments. People don't have anything to say? If spectators are merely interested in the sole outcome of a match, the number of runs they score, the team winning or the wickets taken. There is indeed no point in this article. It's the match that matters. I believe spectators are that disconnected with the sport.

  • zenboomerang on February 23, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    @Rob Steen :- "How soon before broadcasters have a say in selection?"... I should have stated the obvious in my first post... Remember Mr Packer who owned all the top players in the world back in the 1970's & created his own world series cricket?... He changed the face of cricket & how it is run... He also got cricketers onto decent salaries & away from their paltry labourer wages...

  • Gizza on February 23, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, Indian cricket will reach a very interesting point in time when Tendulkar finally retires from all international cricket and the level below that for every form (first-class, IPL, etc.). The truth is that many "cricket fans" in India are just fans of one person. When he goes the ratings and crowd attendances will plunge. Having said that out of the 1.2 billion Indians many of them are genuine cricket fans. Cricket did exist before 1989 (Tedulkar's debut) in India and it won't die just when on bloke leaves. It may however become more confined to the traditional centres such as Bombay, Delhi, Madras and Calcutta instead of the smaller towns. Also I think Tendulkar along with the other superstars may be pressured to still be involved in the game, either through coaching, commentary or umpiring.

  • Valerio_DiBattista on February 23, 2012, 0:41 GMT

    Excellent article Rob. I think the ridiculously flat pitches we have seen over the last decade have been due to the influence of TV. Both because TV/commercial interests want matches to last as long as possible and because they want faster scoring rates. It is not much of a sport when the knowledgeable fan knows that conditions have been set as such. These one day matches of 250 plus scores for each side are terrible. The boredom of these matches resonates from the commentators to the players to the fans. People still watch because they love the sport and also because they are addicted. It is ok to have some high scoring games, but the sport needs variability. Cricket is soaked in commercial imperatives. There is hardly a discussion of the game that does not involve commerce. There is no doubt that international sides are now selected with commercial interests at the forefront. There is no better example of this than Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, even Shewag on this tour.

  • Munkeymomo on February 22, 2012, 22:08 GMT

    7 match ODI series? Oh my days please stop the tedium .

  • enigma77543 on February 23, 2012, 18:30 GMT

    Great article, extremely thought-provoking issue! I think profit-motives will always be there no matter what it is that we're talking about, people work for profit/income so they're driven by what their customers want so ultimtely it comes down to the customers (cricket-fans in this case) to question themselves whether they want what they're buying, so the fans also need to realize that the more they cling on to their heroes & focus less on the team's performance, the more such backdoor-decisions become likely so at the end of the day, it's upto the customers since they're the kings of the market

  • Nutcutlet on February 23, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    @Gizza. From everything I have gathered it does appear that Tendulkar on his own has as many fans as the game of cricket itself in India - & he is rightly highly regarded in all cricketing countries. Apart from his impressive batting (when he was truly world class) I am most impressed by his unassuming nature; it must be very difficult for him to live a normal life at home. It would be good to think that he will give something back to the game that has rewarded him so richly. Even so, I have the distinct impression that he is currently enslaved by those who have a vested interest in his reaching this media-driven manufactured record of 100x100 that is virtually meaningless to anyone who is a serious follower of the game. The hero is the slave - how ironic! WG, Jack Hobbs & the Don never had to put up with all the commercial pressure that SRT has loaded upon him, despite the fact that they were all massive national heroes. PS I hope I live to see Rahul Dravid as President of the BCCI!

  • kabe_ag7 on February 23, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    Fair points, Rob. There is something however I don't understand. How can the BCCI be blamed for Test championship not happening? What do the other test playing nations do in the ICC? It's not like India has a veto in the ICC like England and Australia used to have. Surely they don't think that BCCI can harm the pockets of other boards without harming its own? Or is it that they can't get a well paying contract with ESPN for the test championship? So does that mean all the other boards are also equally greedy about it, while conveniently insinuating that BCCI is the one responsible? England and Australia (and they alone) have been playing 7 match ODI series post-Ashes for a long time. And again it's these boards playing 7 match ODI series with India. How is BCCI alone responsible for milking that cow? A lot of such insinuations serve to reduce many debates to simple BCCI-bashing, which the non-Indian media is happy to exploit.

  • shaannn on February 23, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    and if this happens, the team names will b like this-- TEAM BBC, TEAM AAJTAK, TEAM ESS,TEAM CNN, TEAM ALJAZEERA , NEO XI etc etc

  • shaannn on February 23, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    this will never happen......

  • on February 23, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    Why do articles such as these end up with such limited viewer interest and opinion, whilst a match could yield up to 200 plus comments. People don't have anything to say? If spectators are merely interested in the sole outcome of a match, the number of runs they score, the team winning or the wickets taken. There is indeed no point in this article. It's the match that matters. I believe spectators are that disconnected with the sport.

  • zenboomerang on February 23, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    @Rob Steen :- "How soon before broadcasters have a say in selection?"... I should have stated the obvious in my first post... Remember Mr Packer who owned all the top players in the world back in the 1970's & created his own world series cricket?... He changed the face of cricket & how it is run... He also got cricketers onto decent salaries & away from their paltry labourer wages...

  • Gizza on February 23, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, Indian cricket will reach a very interesting point in time when Tendulkar finally retires from all international cricket and the level below that for every form (first-class, IPL, etc.). The truth is that many "cricket fans" in India are just fans of one person. When he goes the ratings and crowd attendances will plunge. Having said that out of the 1.2 billion Indians many of them are genuine cricket fans. Cricket did exist before 1989 (Tedulkar's debut) in India and it won't die just when on bloke leaves. It may however become more confined to the traditional centres such as Bombay, Delhi, Madras and Calcutta instead of the smaller towns. Also I think Tendulkar along with the other superstars may be pressured to still be involved in the game, either through coaching, commentary or umpiring.

  • Valerio_DiBattista on February 23, 2012, 0:41 GMT

    Excellent article Rob. I think the ridiculously flat pitches we have seen over the last decade have been due to the influence of TV. Both because TV/commercial interests want matches to last as long as possible and because they want faster scoring rates. It is not much of a sport when the knowledgeable fan knows that conditions have been set as such. These one day matches of 250 plus scores for each side are terrible. The boredom of these matches resonates from the commentators to the players to the fans. People still watch because they love the sport and also because they are addicted. It is ok to have some high scoring games, but the sport needs variability. Cricket is soaked in commercial imperatives. There is hardly a discussion of the game that does not involve commerce. There is no doubt that international sides are now selected with commercial interests at the forefront. There is no better example of this than Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, even Shewag on this tour.

  • Munkeymomo on February 22, 2012, 22:08 GMT

    7 match ODI series? Oh my days please stop the tedium .

  • spongebat_squarestumps on February 22, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    @Xolile - you have missed the point. it's not 'what the public wants' at all - it's what THE SPONSORS want. It's about what broadcasters and sponsors THINK will get most eyeballs to the TV, not to please the public but to SELL THEM MORE PRODUCT. And to apply averages of what was considered 'normal' at the time to Bradman's stats is to do the great cricketer a huge disservice. Bradman - like Pele, Ali, Senna and Sampras in their respective sporting times - was anything but 'normal'.

  • farkin on February 22, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    the media needs a slap on the head and told to comment on the game not on who was or not selected or bag the umpiring or the game

  • 4test90 on February 22, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    Xolile - It's a bit hard to be out LBW when the ball is continually crashing into the fence. By the way Bradman was accused of cowardice in the Bodyline series for backing towards square leg and playing tennis shots to the off side. I am not sure where you get "never showed his wicket to the bowler" from.

  • Nutcutlet on February 22, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    A fascinating article, Rob.Thank you. Anything that articulates a detailed take on apparent selection mysteries in cricket (and elsewhere in the sporting entertainment industry) is welcome grist to the debate mill. I have no trouble in accepting the thrust of the argument; it is all too persuasive. By extension, this invisible but very potent TV-ratings force explains the BCCI's continued resistance to the DRS. It's clear, is it not, that 'unskewing the balance between bat & ball' isn't going to favour the Indian legends' (that I now term veterans ) pursuit of more & more records, and that elusive, spurious, hybrid100x100. It seems to me that only batsmen engage the collective Indian psyche, esp. one. He, in India, like WG in Vict. England, seems to be bigger than the game. In the end Mephistopheles must have the last laugh as the cult of celebrity strangles the true spirit of the game. And then - sponsors, broadcasters & supporters - all will be immeasurably (& ironically) poorer.

  • yankinsa on February 22, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    To me, Warner has become a " great" , " a legend in the mind" of a bunch of OZ TV commentators. Quite sickening, really, to have to listen to some of that drivel about a promising youngster who fails more often then he succeeds. But they need the " hype" to sell the airtime to viewers....

  • Simoc on February 22, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    I see Cayman Is 94/0 in 22 overs beat Argentina 93 in a 50 over game. Beats warring.

  • jonesy2 on February 22, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    yes i get this it is worrying that the media control so much and that you only get their stupid often ridiculous view point

  • on February 22, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    It kinda happened with Afridi's case. He was being sacked as captain before 2011 world cup. But major sponsors had already made up their campaigns based on him in the sptlight and center. That also influenced PCB's decision. Even when he so called 'retred' for a short while he was still the face of every cricket sponsor brand in pakistan.

  • BellCurve on February 22, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    @SouthPaw - Like WG Grace, Bradman also almost certainly benefited from umpires and officials making sure that the public gets what the public wants. Despite favouring cross-bat shots, and despite never showing his wicket to the bowler, and despite being bowled fairly regularly, Bradman was only given out LBW 6 times in his entire Test career (which spanned around 11,300 balls and 6996 runs). Moreover, he was only adjudged run out once. If you adjust his average to reflect what could be considered normal lbw/run out proportions it drops by well over 10 runs.

  • JackJak on February 22, 2012, 8:04 GMT

    Finally an article which makes sense.There is no doubt that it is the corporates who call the shots even right now,take the case of tendulkar, dhoni, and a few others. The remaining others r backed by the franchises like in the case of Ashwin backed by India Cements, Sreenivasan ..So he gets to play instead of Rahul Sharma who is a far better spinner, Vinay Kumar gets to play because he is backed by Kumble's company, Zaheer Khan is hyped up so much that they make him out to be as the best thing to have happened after Wasim Akram. Sehwag, Gambir, Ishanth have the delhi lobby behind them. Kohli is another corporate favorite and he will be the next big Indian star which can already be seen the way they are promoting his cause. India right now is nothing more than a corporate team and has been so for quite a while now.There is no chance of any new blood being drafted in easily and even if they do so they do it reluctantly because the corporates/BCCI/visual media/ are all in it together

  • Truemans_Ghost on February 22, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Didn't somebody write exactly the same article as this on Cricinfo a year or so back?

  • Praxis on February 22, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    Cricket will eventually lose its position as one of the most popular things in the subcontinent[which will be a very bad news for this game, like it or not]. Not just because in this day & age cricket can attract new generations without shredding its dignity, traditions & then forming into something ridiculous like T20; those greedy administrators have just done everything in their power to destroy this game. Also the less said about the visual media, columnists & the journalists, the better it is. Just because sports still hold the old values & the golden history is there before it all became a profession, these people can write up or say anything, administrators can do anything, as the new generation of this internet age aren't too bright. So Rob Steen asks, "How soon before broadcasters have a say in selection?" Well, how can we be sure that they already don't have a say?

  • zenboomerang on February 22, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    @Rob Steen :- "How soon before broadcasters have a say in selection?"... They already do as I have commented on before on Cricinfo... CA already says it has a very close working relationship with Channel 9 & that TV executives had wanted Tendulkar to play all India's ODI games... There were also calls from them that Ponting be kept in the team in the early matches... Well they got most of their wishes - must be sulking now... lol...

  • caught_knott_bowled_old on February 22, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    Rob Steen's question has provided the answer to the meaningless questions of when India's aging batsmen will retire. Specifically, Tendulkar. The answer is: when his commercials and brand endorsements run out. There is another player who is of the same stature as Tendulkar, though not the same calibre as a player...and that is Dhoni. Regardless of his performance, the money riding on him is way too much for him to be dropped or even removed from captaincy. Perfect acticle Rob. Good work cricinfo.

  • SouthPaw on February 22, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    Neat! Rob - you have taken up and interesting topic and weaved some magic! Isn't it like what the late Dr. W G Grace said to the bowler who got him out - "Listen son, all these spectators have come to see me bat, not see you bowl!".

  • Reggaecricket on February 22, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    Commentators also seem to influence match referees by conducting their trial of a player over on field incidents. People like Tony Greig should retire before they do more damage to their reputations. Even Sri Lankans are now becoming a bit tired of his banter.

  • SagirParkar on February 22, 2012, 3:42 GMT

    wonderful article Rob.. you have articulated quite well what some of my friends and I have been discussing over the past few weeks... thank you !

  • on February 22, 2012, 3:31 GMT

    What is the point of the Champions Trophy anyway?

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on February 22, 2012, 3:31 GMT

    What is the point of the Champions Trophy anyway?

  • SagirParkar on February 22, 2012, 3:42 GMT

    wonderful article Rob.. you have articulated quite well what some of my friends and I have been discussing over the past few weeks... thank you !

  • Reggaecricket on February 22, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    Commentators also seem to influence match referees by conducting their trial of a player over on field incidents. People like Tony Greig should retire before they do more damage to their reputations. Even Sri Lankans are now becoming a bit tired of his banter.

  • SouthPaw on February 22, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    Neat! Rob - you have taken up and interesting topic and weaved some magic! Isn't it like what the late Dr. W G Grace said to the bowler who got him out - "Listen son, all these spectators have come to see me bat, not see you bowl!".

  • caught_knott_bowled_old on February 22, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    Rob Steen's question has provided the answer to the meaningless questions of when India's aging batsmen will retire. Specifically, Tendulkar. The answer is: when his commercials and brand endorsements run out. There is another player who is of the same stature as Tendulkar, though not the same calibre as a player...and that is Dhoni. Regardless of his performance, the money riding on him is way too much for him to be dropped or even removed from captaincy. Perfect acticle Rob. Good work cricinfo.

  • zenboomerang on February 22, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    @Rob Steen :- "How soon before broadcasters have a say in selection?"... They already do as I have commented on before on Cricinfo... CA already says it has a very close working relationship with Channel 9 & that TV executives had wanted Tendulkar to play all India's ODI games... There were also calls from them that Ponting be kept in the team in the early matches... Well they got most of their wishes - must be sulking now... lol...

  • Praxis on February 22, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    Cricket will eventually lose its position as one of the most popular things in the subcontinent[which will be a very bad news for this game, like it or not]. Not just because in this day & age cricket can attract new generations without shredding its dignity, traditions & then forming into something ridiculous like T20; those greedy administrators have just done everything in their power to destroy this game. Also the less said about the visual media, columnists & the journalists, the better it is. Just because sports still hold the old values & the golden history is there before it all became a profession, these people can write up or say anything, administrators can do anything, as the new generation of this internet age aren't too bright. So Rob Steen asks, "How soon before broadcasters have a say in selection?" Well, how can we be sure that they already don't have a say?

  • Truemans_Ghost on February 22, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Didn't somebody write exactly the same article as this on Cricinfo a year or so back?

  • JackJak on February 22, 2012, 8:04 GMT

    Finally an article which makes sense.There is no doubt that it is the corporates who call the shots even right now,take the case of tendulkar, dhoni, and a few others. The remaining others r backed by the franchises like in the case of Ashwin backed by India Cements, Sreenivasan ..So he gets to play instead of Rahul Sharma who is a far better spinner, Vinay Kumar gets to play because he is backed by Kumble's company, Zaheer Khan is hyped up so much that they make him out to be as the best thing to have happened after Wasim Akram. Sehwag, Gambir, Ishanth have the delhi lobby behind them. Kohli is another corporate favorite and he will be the next big Indian star which can already be seen the way they are promoting his cause. India right now is nothing more than a corporate team and has been so for quite a while now.There is no chance of any new blood being drafted in easily and even if they do so they do it reluctantly because the corporates/BCCI/visual media/ are all in it together

  • BellCurve on February 22, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    @SouthPaw - Like WG Grace, Bradman also almost certainly benefited from umpires and officials making sure that the public gets what the public wants. Despite favouring cross-bat shots, and despite never showing his wicket to the bowler, and despite being bowled fairly regularly, Bradman was only given out LBW 6 times in his entire Test career (which spanned around 11,300 balls and 6996 runs). Moreover, he was only adjudged run out once. If you adjust his average to reflect what could be considered normal lbw/run out proportions it drops by well over 10 runs.