As the spectacle of the 41st Superbowl unfolds with Peyt Manning leading the Colts towards a well contested win, miles away and hours ahead, Wasim Jaffer should be waking up to see if he can repeat his first innings century to seal Mumbai’s hegemony in the Ranji Super League Final. I can’t help wonder what would happen to Indian Cricket if Ranji Finals in India were as big as the Superbowl in USA.
A lot has been written and said about how BCCI needs to beef up its domestic cricket circuit, attract more talent, more discipline demanding professional players to play the Ranji League and more commercial support to finally produce a commendable bench of players as the Aussies have. I am not going to comment on any of that as I agree with most of it, only with the addition that it’s a chicken & egg story starting with whether the average Indian cricket fan follows domestic cricket enough. For today, I’d keep all those contentions aside and imagine that Ranji Finals were really like the Superbowl to India.
So, imagine my friends :
Right now is the sweltering heat of early June, with temperatures soaring to 45+ Deg Cel making it near impossible for you to do anything productive with your time on a Sunday evening except watch the Mumbai Dons battle the Bengal Tigers in a Twenty20 format final for the RANJI SUPERBALL I at the picturesqe and relatively cooler surroundings of the Milkfood Punjab Jatts Stadium at Mohali. Also, you would have sat together with your friends/family for a good 4 hours before the game starts, waiting not only for the real play time which would be much shorter cumulatively than the ad time on the broadcast, but also to watch the spectacle of new and awe-inspiring ad campaigns to be launched. Yes, of course, the specials from Kake da Dhaba’s Ranji Superball Menu are as delicious as the pre-event deal that you got for Mumbai Dons’ Superball 2008 Winner Team Gear at www.nike.co.in.
You don’t find yourself as surprised at the UP-born-and-bred Mohd Kaif’s captaincy of Bengal Tigers as you are disconcerted and disgusted by the needless hype created by the politcally correct media and commentators on the “Celebrating Minorities in Indian Cricket” about Jaffer and Kaif leading the competing sides. (At the back of your mind, you yearn for those good-ol’days, when Cricket was cricket and not an arena for affrimtive action champions, when Kaif-&-Yuvraj’s unbeaten stand in the Natwest Final was all about cricket and none about bleeding-heart Ram-Rahim stories)
The not-so-cricket inclined in your house do not complain so much as they do not mind the opportunity to see Abhishek and Aishwarya perform together for the first time in a public arena, during the half-time. The artistically and patriotically interested have been surely suitably impressed by the redoubtable Pandit Jasraj rendering the National Anthem to open the ceremony. Not to forget, the mouth-watering prospect of seeing the trio of Rakhi-Kangana-Deepal perform at the field during every drinks break.
Regardless of the outcome (Ofcourse, Mumbai Dons, with Sachin, Jaffer and newly acquired Zaheer, would win) and the real prospect of this fantasy coming true, those who follow Indian Cricket and American football, even superficially, would easily sight the following :
- Some of the glamor and commercialisation of Indian Cricket as fantasized here is already happening – most visible during the frenzy that picks up in advance of any major International Cricket Tournament.
- More Importanly : if this fantasy were to strictly come true, Cricket would be played only in India, nowhere else – even Pakistan plays a modified version ! What this means, in turn, is the following :
- No Ashes contest between Australia and England : This could be the best news the English have had in cricket since their Ashes win 2 years ago.
- No India-Pakistan matches : That’s it ! That’s the single biggest reason why this fantasy should never come true !
(Anybody offering discounted packages for a possible Super Eight Match between India-Pak dirung the World Cup 2007 ?)