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Cricket the real loser

There is hurt as well at why the IPL had to be taken out of the country. It's hard to believe but true that this glitzy extravaganza - fuelled no doubt by the power of advertising - has stirred the imagination of young and old alike, writes Pradeep Magazine.

cricket Updated: Mar 28, 2009 01:07 IST

"The infinitely little have a pride infinitely great."

It has been a week spent in blabbering to others and listening to their harangue. The IPL debate rages on: on television channels, in newspapers, and in private conversations. The young are stung at the dent India's image has suffered in the world but the judgment on who is to be blamed is not as straightforward as one would have believed.

There are a good number (at least on TV debates) who do believe that elections are more important than entertainment and the government has been right in giving precedence to the democratic exercise of voting than to a 'circus' in which we get entertained and every one else is projected to have made money.

There is hurt as well at why the IPL had to be taken out of the country. It's hard to believe but true that this glitzy extravaganza - fuelled no doubt by the power of advertising - has stirred the imagination of young and old alike.

That a sporting enterprise, which cares little about nationalities and nationalism but counts its every penny, should shake a country's collective pride and even become its shame is difficult to fathom and hard to explain, certainly within the confines of a newspaper column.

But when a 15-year-old and a 60-year-old are on the same wavelength, all you can do is to marvel at the ingenuity of those who are exploiting the immense popularity of the game to suit their needs. What a great triumph of the market forces when the self-aggrandisement of a few can even become a symbol of national pride.

The whole nation seems to be obsessed with IPL and what it means to us and how the world may be laughing at India for not being able to secure its prime property. Everyone is counting the money, not just the stakeholders, but even you and I.

In this game of profit and loss, and of the amalgamation of a popular sport and glamour to create a new reality show, cricket seems to be almost incidental, certainly the cricket in New Zealand at the moment.

In the morning, while debating these confusing issues of pride and shame being linked with IPL, I suddenly got engrossed in a riveting battle of quality spin alluring skilful batsmen to their doom. The following is a moment picked up from second day's play between India and New Zealand.

After having whacked Vettori for a massive six over long on, Sehwag tried to replay that shot on the next delivery. But this time, the bowler flighted it a bit more, slowed its speed and bowled it a little wider. The ball, instead of finding the middle of the bat and landing in the stands, found its way into the wicketkeeper's hands. A few minutes later, Jeetan Patel used his control over the flight of the ball to entice Gambhir into a fatal indiscretion.

All of a sudden, I became a cricket fan again as the adroitness of the two spinners excited me enough to make me forget that there is national shame and pride too involved with the sport I was watching. Thank god for small mercies.