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Cricket tamasha
Posted By:Hajas On 9/16/2007

Cricket tamasha
16 Sep 2007, 0045 hrs IST,Shobhaa De


Jhulan... Who? Oh... That chick who won some cricketing title, right? Yeah, man... That's cool. Like ...dude, Jhulan rocks. Yup. That she sure does. But after the first burst of exultation over Jhulan's extraordinary achievement (the first Indian woman to bag the ICC's Women's Cricketer of the Year award), it was back to business as usual. The Boys in Blue did what they are best at discussed the colour of money with their mentors.

Today, our cricketers are like pedigreed race horses or stud bulls on parade. The auction block rules they go to the highest bidder. Footballers have always been traded like hot stocks. Poor Beckham gets sold across clubs depending on which fat cat bids for him. He moves from continent to continent, lugging his bori, bistar, biwi and betas along, like a well-packaged gift with a return-to-sender tag, in case of non-delivery. The same thing is happening with our cricketers, with rival organisations fighting over them like hysterical shoppers fighting over mithai boxes at a big Diwali sale. And while our boys' are bound to emerge much richer from this hideous exercise, they risk doing so with their dignity seriously damaged.

Perhaps it is our fault. We tend to push our cricketers into the realm of mythology. It is we who have made them God-like. To see these iconic figures lined up meekly behind their maaliks, makes them look like desperate bar girls about to switch loyalties from one popular bar to the next.

For, at the end of the day, it is obvious their decisions are not governed by the love of cricket or country. It is only the love of money.

To confuse fans further, their respective bosses are trying to equate loyalty to the club with patriotism. Both are privately controlled bodies with a shared profit motive. The boys' may don the official India colours, but the only time any sports person in their league actually plays for the nation is during the Olympics. All other fixtures are strictly commercial, and all the monies accrued go to their personal bank accounts. Of course, the club that owns them makes the serious money riding on the game, thanks to advertisers locked in for years with multi-million rupee deals.

In today's times, sports and big money go hand in hand. It's a win-win situation for everyone, viewers included. Reportedly, Paaji has been paid an indecent amount to front the charge of the fight brigade. This is really neat. It means a credible sports personality can become a convincing spokesperson for a breakaway group, if the lolly is right! Does that also mean a well-briefed actor could perform an equally convincing role, if given a great script and a fat pay packet? The startling answer is, Yes'. With Gavaskar Jr in Kapil's kitty, it was Advantage Paaji. Oh... but that was before Pawar unveiled his line up. He has the Biggies in his bag, local and firang. And he is ready to up the stakes. The fun has just begun.

But will the controversies attract sticky eyeballs? Look what happened when Fashion Week got carved up by rival camps, and viewers had to yawn through four boring extravagances a year. There's nothing more lethal than the Fatigue Factor in the demanding world of entertainment (i place contemporary cricket in this sector). If T20 flops, there will be T10. Followed by F5. However, if all else fails to set those elusive TRPs on fire, cricket clubwallas can take a leaf out of the Fashion Week's book and orchestrate a photogenic wardrobe malfunction on the field. Paisa pheko, tamasha dekho.

PS: Ganguly may please keep his shirt on we've already seen his unimpressive chest, thank you.


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