Friday, April 1, 2011

Was the cup a hit?

Aakar Patel wrote a very interesting piece on the Indian cricket fan. In it he describes how India loves India and how if any other country was playing, nobody cared.
He's been criticised.
But the truth is that he's absolutely correct.
How many of us saw Rizwan Cheema hit Murali for two sixes in the Sri Lanka Vs Canada game?
How many of us saw Ryan ten Deschorte make a century against England?
How many of us saw Ireland beat England? And by that, I mean the whole game?
If the answer goes above 10,000, then I'll change my name.
10,000 in 1.61 billion people is still nothing. However, it says a lot.
In comparison, how many of us saw each India match? I'm not going to even bother answering that question. The numbers were big and all of us know it.
Aakar's trending on Twitter at the moment and a lot of people are talking about the way fans watch football games in Europe. Two things here: there are crowds in football matches all the time. Be it a club game, be it a game between two nations - even in neutral venue - the grounds are always full. Where do we see packed stadiums in India if India is not playing. Would a ticket sell for Rs 1.25 lakh if Sri Lanka and Pakistan was playing the final? Would air fares increase to 22,000 between Mumbai and Chandigarh if India wasn't playing Pakistan in the semis? You know what the answer is.
This World Cup was a hit because three of the four subcontinent teams played a role in reaching the final four. Vodafone spent Rs 45 crore on its 3G campaign that launched during the World Cup. Ad rates, according to a few people, cost approximately Rs 20 lakh for a 10 second slot. However, these ads were only seen during the day-night games and when subcontinent games.
The matches played in the morning had empty stadiums and no ads between the overs. The game between England and South Africa had a decent crowd because it was played in Chennai on a Sunday. The problem was that India was playing Ireland on the same day. Suddenly we could see James Anderson and Stuart Broad changing ends, while we see an umpire requesting that he goes for a piss during the overs break during the India-Ireland game.
People talk of the 2007 World Cup as dark and gloomy. Sure Bob Woolmer's death had a significent role, but I wonder whether India and Pakistan's early exit also triggered a lot of things. It didn't help that the weather in the West Indies is unpredictable and that the matches were played when it was night in India.
Ever since World Cup matches could be screened on television, the only successful World Cups were 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2011. All these World Cups were successful because subcontinent teams were either in the finals or hosting the event.  I'm counting 2007 out of this because of the reasons I mentioned above.
So does the so-called cricket fan watch the World Cup for the love of the game or is it the only platform for him to vent out his frustrations at his team and the opposition in a large area. Emotions are high and he'll feel right at home. Pity about the game though. It's becaome something like Latin American football: a way to vent out your frustrations.

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