Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Twenty20 in India

Okay, I had to break my silence on this. It's terribly galling to know that a tournament of such significance to Indian cricket gets such treatment from the media, the fans and the board. I find it hard to believe that a format that brought the crowds back into the stadiums in England and South Africa finds it hard to bring in people in the 'Mecca' of Indian cricket - Mumbai. And this is when the big 'stars' are playing. (Those people who bring up the topic of Ranji trophy having sparse crowds, kindly read up material online on the Challenger trophy.) This article on Cricinfo was particularly interesting, to quote:

The sight of empty stands at a limited overs match in India, played under lights, in Mumbai, thought to be the spiritual home of Indian cricket, was a first. Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Robin Uthappa were up against each other, in coloured clothing, and apart from a few Cricket Club of India members and their enthusiastic grandchildren, one match observer, some officials and a handful of journalists, there was no one watching a game specifically designed to draw audiences to cricket... But what even more of a first was someone in the pavilion yelling out to Yuvraj, asking who was playing. "Punjab against Karnataka," he yelled back, "Punjab are fielding."

Sad. This is the form of cricket that I had been looking forward to. Finally a form of cricket that could get more global acceptance. Possibly in the long run, could have more competitive teams, as teams might find it easier to pick up the ultra short version of the game that relies more on power than on technique. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the finer nuances of the game associated with Test cricket. I remember the days when I used to watch test matches that were so clearly petering towards tame draws. But Twenty20 has given me that novelty to keep me interested. Something I believe the ODI's have lost over the years. Maybe, just maybe, due to the instant nature of the game Australia might be beatable more often. I am not able to refer to the appropriate article I read on Cricinfo a while back, but it talked about one of the forms of cricket giving way to Twenty20. I suspect ODI's might be the one in the long term to cave in.

Anyway back to the Inter-state tournament that's currently being played in India. The tournament started on the 15th of April. Teams were divided into 2 groups. These teams were the top two from their respective zones (which was decided by a preliminary round) comprising of a super league. The final would be played on the 21st. Almost all the 'stars' will be on display for their respective teams. The performances in this tournament would influence the selectors to a great extent when it comes to deciding the squad for the Twenty20 world cup to be played in South Africa later this year. Yes, you read it right! There is another world cup this year. What irks me most is the precious little available in terms of media coverage, particularly the most important form of it all - live telecast. Once again I'll quote:
"We have not sold the rights to the Twenty20 championship," Ratnakar Shetty, chief administrative officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), told Cricinfo in Mumbai. "This tournament was not part of the original tender [for TV rights to domestic cricket]," he said. NEO Sports, which won the rights to broadcasting cricket in India, were committed to telecasting 74 days of domestic cricket, an obligation they have already fulfilled.

What I find hard to believe is why isn't Doordarshan - the guys who used to (and I think still) telecast Ranji trophy games - broadcasting this tournament? The BCCI officials also talk about the logistic difficulty in arranging for such a tournament to be televised. But having seen its success in other countries, how could they NOT televise this event in the first place? They would have never imagined India getting knocked out so early in the now rather tepid World Cup, but a landmark event such as this (the first Twenty20 tournament in India) deserved more. Even in Cricinfo, fishing out articles and scorecards required a little digging. A missed opportunity for the BCCI. I get the feeling, Dalmiya might have done a better job in terms of publicity, but well, talking about that over here makes no sense.

Anyway, so far among the big teams, Tamil Nadu beat Mumbai (despite a 32 ball 68 from Sachin) and Punjab beat Karnataka (which strangely did not feature Dravid). So those of you reading this, spread the word. And if you live nearby, go watch it. Remember, you probably wouldn't get that much of a chance in the future. At least I would take in 3 hours of domestic Twenty20 over the series of World Cup dead rubber matches that are going to follow in the next few days leading up to the semis.


  1. it is the only form of cricked that i'd ever watch.. the interest among general public is directly related to the coverage of any event.. and this event isn't getting the coverage that it probably should as u have pointed out.. even desperately news hungry channels aren't too keen on covering this for some reason.... regionals teams don't really have much following anyway and i think BCCI should seriously think about branding of regional teams.. something like PHL would be nice..

  2. [...] Piker would like you to spread the word about the interstate Twenty20 cricket tornament that’s going on right now. This is the form of cricket that I had been looking forward to. Finally a form of cricket that [...]

  3. I'm surprised that there were no crowds for this format in spite of the 'star' attractions. Probably we Indians resist change and would rather like more of the same. Going out to watch a game has to be developed into a social experience with better amenities and focused marketing. Go to any American professional sports games and you'll see what I mean. And it isn't that hard.

    PS. Install and activate the 'Full Feeds' plugin; your posts are truncated in the feed after the 'more' tag.

  4. [Amit] and [Patrix]
    About the re-branding exercise, Subhash Chandra (of Zee) is attempting something of that sort. Hope that works out.

    In most countries, the games that attract maximum crowds are 3-4 hours long at the max. So it is possible to schedule games in weekends and after work hours. That way, families can go to games like outings. Unfortunately, cricket until now is way too long and hence the only kinds of family outings in India (if at all) are going to the movies. Hockey? Well, the less we talk about it the better, although PHL was a moderate success. The failure of the current series has got to do with coverage in the media and lack of channels televising the event. When we've seen channels fight tooth and nail for right to even a Bangladesh tour, the indifference here is disappointing.

    And yeah, Patrix, your wish is my command! Fixed the full feeds plugin. Now got to get back to padhai. Exam tomorrow :(

  5. 20-20 cricket is good for England but it wont get its roots in India

  6. [Tajim]
    And would you explain why, in a country where people are sitting there, waiting to lap up cricket, would Twenty20 not work?

  7. in which channel is this tournament being telecasted???????

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