Archive for September 5, 2008

Is the Indian Cricket fan ready for a Change in order?

As somebody who grew up on a staple diet of Test and One-day cricket, I was skeptical when T20 cricket was introduced as a serious format in England. For long I felt it was a foreign phenomenon that may not affect Indian shores. The same champion patrons of IPL were a year back strictly against introducing this format of the game in the country. The interest level amongst the Indian cricket authorities (BCCI), preceding the 2007 T20 world cup is needs no further prodding & is already very well documented.

However with the T20 world cup victory and the entry of the ICL the complexion of the game changed. IPL backed by star cricketers and big money bags changed the order & brought league cricket into the manifold.

All the above developments will radically change the way cricket consumers’ consume the sport.

My humble analysis of a metaphor for the three formats (Test, ODIs & T20) of the game lies in the following:

  1. Test cricket is comparable to theatre, not the most popular format; but from the point of view on an actor, is the best platform to display one’s talent. Similarly Test cricket is the ultimate level to test of skills for a cricketer. However both theatre /test cricket is seen as self indulgence from the point of view of a viewer. Sport in its modern context has to keep the consumer viewpoint at top priority and therefore like theatre, test cricket will have to reposition itself as a niche product to survive.
  2. One day cricket is like a 70mm magnum opus, sometimes it clicks sometimes it can flop, but is seen as the great national pastime. So far it has ruled the imagination of the cricketing world; but will new formats (T20 Cricket) outshine it? Similar to what TV & the internet have done in terms of commercial prowess in the entertainment sector.
  3. T20 is similar to TV & internet not the best platform to assess the talent of a player but the platform is so strong & humongous, that if a player proves his competitive mettle then he can shine with the vast opportunity the platform provides. Similar to what TV/internet does as a platform for a modern day actor.

T20 has caught the imagination of the viewer in the sports context similar to what TV/internet has done in the entertainment context.

The opinion makers (TV experts and perennial fans) will vouch for test cricket and dub other formats as payjama & underwear cricket!!!!! However the powerful flow of T20 & league cricket is such that it will mobilize the general mass towards it.

I think it’s a time for a change in order; cricket boards, ICC, BCCI will be the amphitheaters and Natya academies that cater to a niche outdated product.( BI-lateral cricket series ).

The format for the masses amongst cricket formats will be T20 cricket similar to what TV enjoys in the entertainment sector.

I foresee three major cricket bodies emerge as the nerve centers of cricket in this change of order ICL. IPL & Stanford.

The paradigm shift has already seen movements best exemplified with the legendary Greg Chappell seeing; T20 & franchisee league cricket as the future of cricket.

Will the huge cricket fan base in India react favorably to the change in order, the answer will first come up with the third ICL season ready to propel league cricket to unprecedented levels in a month’s time.

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