Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cricket fever

I was in the sea of yellow, one and a half hours before the start of the first IPL game between the Chennai Super Kings and Deccan Charges at MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai. Almost everyone in my stand was wearing a yellow jersey sporting the name Dhoni, and an official yellow CSK cap. A steady crowed started to gather, all in yellow, when a shrill voice of Anuradha Sriram reverberated inside the stadium. She was there as the official entertainer for the fans before the start of the game.

Anuradha, a flamboyant singer, started mixing her peppy numbers in front of the crowd that came to watch quality cricket. I was one of the very few conservative, disappointed fans in the crowd. I was disappointed because I was there to watch a game between two clubs. And nothing else. I always believe that cricket by itself is a huge entertainment and it does not require any other additives to keep the crowd going.

Anuradha's performance was pathetic as she tried to mix her songs to please the crowd that came to watch cricket. After half an hour of Anuradha's atrocity, then came a renowned drummer. He is one of the best drummers in India, and has performed in many stages. For me, cricket ground is not the stage for him to demonstrate his skills. So, the events on that night unfolded in the following order. Anuradha's atrocity, Sivamani's solo, DJ's pep talk and then the toss.

After a frustrating hour and a half, Mahi and Gilly came to the center. I got the first glimpse of anything related to cricket for the first time. Gilly won the toss and Deccan batted. I was praying that cricket would take the center stage from there on.

When Gilly hit his first six of the tournament against a haphazard Tyagi, the entire Chennai crowd stood up to applaud. These are the moments cricketers play for and these are the moments that makes Chennai the best crowd in India. The moment clearly belonged to Gilly, but the DJ with his music and Sivamani with his drums stole the thunder from Gilly. The music was so loud that the applause from the crowd was never heard. I was so frustrated that I was hoping that the biggest stand in the stadium would rise and swallow both the DJ and the drummer.

After a quickfire 42, Gilly was finally dismissed. As Dhoni rightly pointed out, Chennai crowd always come to watch quality cricket, whether it is played by the home team or the away team is immaterial. Even on this occasion, the crowd stood up to applaud, yet again, but was again overshadowed by excessively loud music. Clearly, the cricketers deserve much more than this.

No disrespect to either the DJ or the drummer, but I strongly feel that this is not the stage for them. This is the stage only for the cricketers, cricket and its fans. It was disheartening to see the game I always loved, taking the backseat. A lot of people say that IPL is entertainment. Let it be, but not at the cost of losing the value of cricket and cricketers. When Gilly was dismissed, I was disappointed that he did not receive the acknowledgement from the crowd that he deserved. The same story went on and on for all the remaining fixtures.

In my view, IPL does not require DJs, drummers, dancing girls and the overnight parties. I would always watch Haydos and his mongoose in action rather than watch the tall girls dancing in mini skirts. On a cricket field, that is!

In financial terms, IPL is a derivative with cricket as an underlying asset. IPL will grow as long as the underlying asset is strong, valued and grows in strength. The whole concept of IPL is only based on the value generated by cricket.

Cricket and only cricket should take precedence on a cricket filed and everything else should take the backseat.