If cricket was a patient undergoing a wellness check, doctors would be worried by the results. The diagnosis is that danger bells are ringing and the writing is on the wall.
Post England, the cricket economy is in a downward spiral, a trend reflected in various financial indicators. With
overall popularity at an all-time low, tickets are not selling, the scramble for free passes is missing and sponsors are hesitant about investing in cricket properties.
Market gurus say this is a classic case of supply exceeding demand, which has caused fatigue among consumers. Till now, common wisdom suggested cricket was recession proof as it consistently delivered numbers that defied accepted principles of economics. But of late, in a social context where different activities are competing for a share of the wallet, the market is correcting itself.
Besides the financial challenge, there are other issues troubling cricket. Suddenly, cricket is not that cool, the urban youth is moving towards soccer and the average fan is put off by the boring sameness of teams. As cricket gets more 'professionalism', understandable because the stakes are so high, individual flair is squeezed out and replaced by mechanical drabness.
At a basic level, all players look alike, covered with protective gear and are difficult to identify from a distance. Gone are the days of the relatively unfit, well-fed player.
In the current power structure, with management having a larger say, individuals are required to submit to team goals and buy into the bigger plan. That is why teams play football or volleyball to warm up, spend endless hours in the gym and then go through long sessions with the computer analyst.
With preparation so neatly planned, there are no secrets anymore in cricket. In this era of information overdose, every player is known, analysed, researched and sorted out.
Hopefully, the economic tremor will pass. Coaches will continue to manufacture complicated plans but stars such as Virender Sehwag will continue to catch attention with their creativity and unique skills.
The writer is the CEO of Delhi Daredevils