Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cricket and Football...

Hello people,

I was just thinking of the spread of football and the passion it generates in the millions of audience in the world. It has the ‘real’ World Cup with 200+ members and 32 playing in the Finals. Its projected as the ‘beautiful game’ and indeed many millions are attracted to the ‘beauty’! Its undoubtedly the number 1 sport in the world and not even the Olympics generate much interest. Yes the Olympics has much more participation with 200+ delegations at one place. But the fact that Olympics is a combined even with lot of sports together and the fact that all 200+ nations do not participate in all the events gives football a clear edge.
Guess what the number 2 sport in terms of followers is! Cricket! But its World Cup doesn't generate half as much interest and not in this enormity. There are a small number of countries that are playing it and even smaller are really good at it. Shabby administration also doesn’t help. In fact I just wanted to say what the ICC would do well to learn from FIFA or UEFA.
Cricket, now a days is seen as a ‘brand’! This is the most disgusting fact for me. The overwhelming popularity of football is largely due to the fact that its looked upon as a simple game even though large proportions of money are involved. The 2nd line says about its catch line and it says about its simplicity too. ‘The Beautiful Game’ and not the beautiful ‘brand’!
ICC is confused about the popularity and in fact the game itself. They are, in a bid to ‘sell’ the game[which is insane] are trying to modify it and make it saleable! FIFA doesn’t involve in any of that insanity. They are just happy to keep it simple and change the game according to its sporting needs and the changes are not based on the money factor of it. Money and the game is kept separate. ICC in fact has gone to such an extent that it isn’t the same game as before and some more changes would spell doomsday for the ‘Gentleman's Game’. In a bid to attract more people it is in turn projecting cricket as more and more un saleable and boring!
ICC should try to keep it simple. As the suggestions to change the game are rife, you can get an opinion to completely turn around the fortunes from every nook and corner of the subcontinent. Coming to the sub-continent, I get a fine example of why FIFA is not interested in market part while ICC is! ICC never wants to think beyond the sub continent. FIFA never even have thought about China and India as markets which have the highest population in the world. They just want to spread the game in the correct way and not hurry the proceedings with gimmicks as the ICC does.
ICC most importantly has almost no control over its members and is lacking backbone! FIFA on the other hand takes stern stands and strictly imposes the rules. A glaring example was recent France vs. Ireland controversy. ICC’s similar experience is the India vs. Australia test series where an umpire was so easily changed!
IPL is supposed to turn it around for cricket. But what is it actually? Its the grave attempt to turn cricket to football, which would never work. One of the most important aspects comes up here. How many cricket matches are significant? Is it undergoing an overkill? FIFA never organizes any unnecessary or meaningless games! ICC does that so often that most of the spectators now are fed up and confused over what is going on and where! The ICCs lack of authority or planning is clear from the simple fact that some players play for at least 4 teams in the world! The supporters have no idea who will turn up where!
To add to the overkill point, we have had 3 T20 ‘World Cups’ in 3 years! Its nothing but ridiculous! FIFA has single digit tournaments and they are kept so far apart that the spectators are longing for the event when it arrives. ICC lacks commonsense in the scheduling of events. Sri Lanka for example has not played in South Africa for over 8 years! But they have played India almost a 50 times in last 2 years!
ICC is no mood to spread the game or it is confused and insecure about the way of doing it. It is constantly in search of ‘markets’ and not, importantly, of a level playing field and a simple game. It organized the T20 ‘World Cup’[calling thus is a joke] in West Indies in a bid to get the ‘attractive US market’! Horribly it kept matches starting at 9.30 in the morning when every one would be hurrying for their offices! ICC wanted to have its share of the subcontinent market which it was not willing to let go. That’s why I feel its insecure and lacks courage. The audience stayed away from the stands and who would like to watch a match which does not have noise?! In contrast FIFA gives free entry to the host nation to compete and thus it wont be such a case that you wont be a part of the celebration that is happening at your house!
In a bid to spread the game ICC is ‘showering’ ‘funds’ for every associate nation as they are called. But how many matches do these associate nations play? Instead of giving them a chance ICC is happy seeing India play Sri Lanka for umpteen times a week! Another glaring example of ICCs shabby administration is its rule which makes it easier for he players from the associate nations to play for a test playing country, but not as easy for the second string of the test playing country to play for the associates. Irish players are turning up in England colours the next day after playing a match or 2 for Ireland. But England and New Zealand discards, Ed Joyce and Hamish Marshal are made to wait 4 years to turn for a nation which would strengthen enormously by their inclusion. This will help the team to win a match or two against better teams or at least teams like Bangladesh. This would attract its audience. Now, no one likes to follow a no chance team in every tournament.
Asian games is an excellent platform for ICC to extend its reach. But ICC is taking no action against BCCI who doesn't want to send its team as they are busy playing New Zealand in a series. The schedule for the games was known 2 years ago. So why did the ICC not schedule accordingly. It was busy enjoying its T20 revival in 2007! But Allan Stanford has been busted and Lalit Modi is on the verge of it. Now ICC can do nothing in terms of scheduling. This shows how short sighted the ICC is and how greedy the administrators are!
I have no suggestions as such to state as I am no ICC CEO and so it will be of no use. But I would like to see the game which I follow curiously, grow. So I wish ICC retreats from some stupid changes that it is planning and take some notice of the associate nations instead of increasing the number of insignificant matches which takes out the significance of the important matches as well. If it doesn’t it will lose the sub continent as well, which is starting to lose its patience. Zimbabwe series was a good example for that.
As for now, enjoy the ‘Beautiful Game’ for the month!

Thanks and Later…

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