Many years ago when Kautilya wrote the Arthashastram , in one of the verse he mentions that Money is like Honey, where ever a drop falls ants follows it and hence it is something to be handled with utmost care. It is this verse which comes to the mind when we hear today about the cricket fiasco. Cricket looks today a vulgarized game.
The genesis of this trend begins with the popularization of the 60 overs one day matches against the traditional 5 day test match format. The matches played at Sharjah way back in the 80s, with a cocktail mix of the underworld, Bollywood and the cricketers became the beginning point of betting and max fixing. Scandals over scandals followed then. The 60 overs one day cricket was then further reduced in this decade to that of a 20 overs match, which finally has taken this form as Indian premier league matches.
The beauty of cricket is not its speed but in its style and slow pace. Unlike football where the speed of the game matters, the essence of cricket was in field management, intelligent batting , pitch performance, handling different types of balling , and its interest revolved on the talent and style of performance of players and teams, spread over 5 days mainly on winter seasons. Increasing the speed of cricket by reducing the overs in fact killed the game and the 20/20 cricket style was the last nail in the coffin.
I could recollect the early 80s when I played cricket in my village, a time when neighbourhood boys beamed at us looking at this strange game. Cricket was confined to the elite schools and middle class office goers who, moved around with transistor radios listening to the commentary. The frenzy of limited over matches increased since the 90s and was mainly attributed to the popularization of cricket in the Indian subcontinent due to the TV revolution and the proportional commercialization of its growth. Pepci Co and CoCo Cola and other FMCG companies found cricket sponsorship the ideal marketing tool to reach to the masses. With a liberalized economy and a burgeoning growth rate the 21st century India was the best bet for any company to throw money to the cricketing fraternity and increase their market share. With cricket percolating to the rural areas, more money flowed in to tap the vast rural market.
Cricket attained an horse trading format when players where hired and played as stallions on race course with corporate houses and high net worth individuals looking at it beyond brand endorsements to that of wealth, luxury and lavishness and the whole of cricket has become an ecstatic pleasure as epitomized by the sizzling dances of the cheer leaders.
Where do we stand today? As long as you are ready to pay and enjoy the orgasmic pleasure of cricket what is wrong about the whole deal. Should the government intervene and where is the dividing line of righteousness, ethics and civility? While we ponder for these answers what is lost is the game called cricket.
As Kautilya said spill honey attracts ants and these cricketing ants have spoiled the game and as our law enforcement agencies arrest more of them be it cricketers, film stars or executives , let us be nostalgic of those old cricket days with its traditional commentary …Incomes Kapil dave, right arm over the wicket…..