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Excess cricket causing fan fatigue

Requests from players that international cricket be cut back have evoked a sharp response from cricket authorities, writes Amrit Mathur.
Hindustan Times | By Amrit Mathur
UPDATED ON JUL 08, 2008 12:37 AM IST

Suddenly, there is a chorus among the fans about too much cricket.

This is also a sentiment that players share, many of whom have spoken about burnout, injuries, exhaustion and being jaded.

As performers in this non-stop circus, they are completely drained, and therefore desperate for a break to rest their aching limbs and fatigued minds.

Requests from players that international cricket be cut back have evoked a sharp response from cricket authorities.

In what was a rebuke, India captain MS Dhoni was ticked off, put in his place politely but firmly. Any player needing rest, a BCCI official, said in a statement dripping with sarcasm, has to just ask and sit out!

The game won't stop for any individual, and if someone can't take the heat, it is for him to opt out. Each sport is driven by its internal momentum, decided largely by market forces of demand-supply, and with the ground rule determined in this fashion, players simply have to live with the international calendar.

To this extent, cricket and other sport are like active treadmills, and players have to keep running briskly to stay on. Anyone who has trouble keeping pace has to drop off.

From another angle, any suggestion of excessive cricket and the resultant strain appears a bit phoney.

During the IPL, there was no complaint (despite the punishing schedule in peak summer), and if another IPL is announced next week, the players will gladly show up without any protests about muscle strain or mental tension.

Even if one disregards what the players feel, there exist visible signs that cricket supply has overrun demand, spectator fatigue is a reality and important games, the Asia Cup final for example, are watched only by policemen on duty and ground staff.

There was a time when an India-Pakistan match was eagerly awaited, the compelling contest guaranteeing a scramble for tickets and high TRP ratings.

That has changed, recent matches have been sadly flat, the atmosphere anything but electric.

Who knows, the dark day may arrive soon when free tickets will be distributed and promotional offers announced to lure spectators.

Declining interest is due to the increased frequency. The absence of quality players is another reason for these matches becoming less attractive.

With Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly missing from the Indian starting eleven, and the likes of Inzamam-ul Haq, Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar absent from the other side, an India-Pak match resembles a multi-starrer film with B-grade actors.

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