By Rakesh Raman
You’d have heard about NCAA tournament, which is also known as March Madness in the U.S. Here in India, it’s time for the madness of another type – cricket madness – in the form of Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, which is scheduled for April 4 – May 27. So, you can call it May Madness.
Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan kicked off the 5th edition of the IPL event in a noisy ceremony Tuesday in the South Indian city of Chennai (a.k.a. Madras). In these two months of non-stop madness, offered by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), nine teams are participating.
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Although top Indian and foreign cricket players take part in it, actually this short-format, 20-over cricket is proving to be slow poison for the actual game of cricket – particularly for India. As it’s a lappa (colloquial term for blind hitting) form of game, it’s spoiling the cricketing skills of players.
Since all the players, who are part of the national cricket team of India, play in IPL games, their performance level is reduced to naught in the international cricket that demands proper game skills. Indian players lack these skills, as they’re mostly focused on IPL because it gives them bags full of bucks irrespective of the match results.
Their lacklustre performance was seen in the recent games abroad. Of late, India faced a spate of humiliating defeats in England, Australia, and Bangladesh. In the recent Asia Cup 2012 tournament (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh), the Indian cricket team suffered defeat even at the hands of Bangladesh, which was rated as a kid team by some game analysts. Eventually, India had to meekly bow out of the Asia Cup race.
Although India was shown as the World Cup winner in 2011, it’s repeatedly reported (and it was quite visible even to the novices who watched those matches) that the crucial matches that India won were allegedly fixed, though game officials have dismissed these reports.
Match fixing is common in the game of cricket. And mainly players from the poor Asian countries who easily get fascinated by the money glitter accept it deceitfully to defeat their own teams. Players from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka have been frequently blamed for cricket corruption. Many have been caught, convicted and banned also.
Still, commoners in these underdeveloped countries die for the game. Even those who don’t understand even the ‘C’ of cricket, mob cricket grounds like cattle. Others get glued to TV sets, radio sets, and web sites.
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It’s observed that during such cricket matches, the national productivity in a country like India falls drastically. Normally, in an eight-hour daily job in a typical Indian office, the average productive time for an employee is just two hours.
The other six hours are spent on long lunches, smoking sessions, gossips, tea breaks, personal phone calls, and Facebook chats. Cricket comes to add fuel to the fire, as the work comes to a stand still, affecting the overall Indian economy.
The non-workers (there are millions in India) who get attached to cricket matches are actually always on the lookout for such opportunities where they could crowd like herd. It could be anything to anything else – some anti-corruption rally, a politician’s speech, a religious congregation, a film heroine’s visit to inaugurate a crockery shop, a snake dance, or a cricket match. They’re idle. Period.
Indian media outfits – that are mostly naïve and lack content – exploit these matches to their advantage – to run 24-hour TV channels, to fill newspaper pages, to run web sites, and so on.
That’s why recently Justice Markandey Katju, chairman of the Press Council of India, lambasted Indian media. One of his reasons to censure journalists was their infatuation for cricket while ignoring other issues of national importance. (Read: Why Justice Katju Hates Indian Journalists)
Like journalists, another group that is crazy on cricket comes from the Indian Tinseltown – Bollywood, which has been struggling for decades to produce meaningful cinema. It’s seen that in all forms of cricket – particularly the IPL event – people from Bollywood get involved with all their money and might.
And most of them who spend their days and nights with cricketers are actually ordinary Bollywood people who are either sick or quite old or are not getting enough work in films. Like other 1.2 billion Indian commoners, they also need some hangout to kill their time. So… cricket and IPL.
And there is a surfeit of this madness all around the year, as cricket is happening almost two out of every three days on average. And this madness begins again. Are you part of it?
You can also read: More Articles by the RMN Editor, Rakesh Raman