If Jan Koum ran Indian cricket
Apparently, yesterday India completed a “great” run chase and won a game of international cricket. Customary pictures of the playmaker with bat aloft (never a bowler when it’s India mind you) adorn the front page of daily newspapers and most news sites. cricinfo’s facebook feed celebrates yet another Kohli 100 in yet another successful run chase. It might as well be just a coincidence that the win came in the subcontinent against Bangladesh.
Since Jan 2011, India has played 31 test matches, won 12 and lost 12. Not bad? Of the 12 wins, 11 came from the 15 matches played at home and the solitary away win came against the distinctly ordinary West Indies. India’s away record in that time: Played 16, Won 1, Lost 12.
And that’s the reason that I have about as much interest in the Asia Cup as a terminally ill patient would have in signing up for a 25 year vacation timeshare.
With the snake oil salesmen that form the BCCI using financial clout to dole out ridiculous 2 test series, the perennial distractions of the next easy ODI series, the flash bang of the corrupt IPL, chances that India will build a strong test team are about as good as a million monkeys let loose at a million typewriters recreating Shakespeares works. Possible but improbable.
With the hot press about whatsapp’s acquisition by facebook and the famed note the founders kept at their desk to retain their laser-like focus on the value their product offered, I couldn’t help but daydream about the idea of a clear-minded approach to (re)building the product that is Indian cricket.
Read, nothing that detracts from the viewer experience. Selling broadcast rights to the highest bidders for amounts greater than the GDP of most other cricket playing nations is all fine, but let’s not abuse the viewers with production that cuts away to hawking smartphones to ecommerce retailers before the last ball of an longer than usual over is bowled. Or sully the screen with so many sponsor logos that it’s hard to tell the difference between animation of a kid doing a cartwheel because his mom uses magical cooking oil and a fielder diving to stop a cover drive. Take a leaf out of baseball broadcasting and demand improvement in telecast of a sport that lends itself to so much more analysis. Your most important asset are the people who still follow the game. Don’t take them for granted.
Messing with tour schedules to bully other cricket boards, then cutting down on overseas tests and padding domestic ODI series because that’s where the wins are likely to come appears like something out of the script of Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘The Dictator‘. The BCCI might as well hold families of opposition fast bowlers and captains hostage during overseas tests. Instead, focus on developing the best possible team for each format, know that you can’t claim superiority without blooding in genuine pace and spin bowlers, quality top and middle order bats. It’s really not as difficult to get the talent flowing in a country that’s still hopelessly partisan towards one sport.
Buying loyal press by only allowing employment for commentators who will not question the administrators on all the laughably apparent motives. Blatant misuse of its market monopoly by including clauses in commentary contracts that forbid on-air comments or discussion about squad selection, disallowing live updates of scores just to squeeze out more revenue. What’s next, charging residents living in the vicinity of cricket stadiums a premium for breathing the same air that its cricketers breathe? Cut the BS and let’s hear Ian Chappell’s dissection of why MSD’s insistence on a deep cover is costing India matches than Alan Wilkins sycophantic blather.
But instead of whatsapp, Indian cricket is likely to continue with the indiatimes style of user experience. But only if…