Club vs Club


Someone seriously needs to tell Mr. Bhimani that he does not need to laugh derisively every time a panelist on Arnab Goswami’s show says something in favor of Dhoni. It is natural to feel insecure given that Yograj Singh is a Patiala peg away from replacing him on the one place that still gets him in front of a camera. But it is safe to say that Mr. Bhimani’s animated, though overwrought (in a Kareena Kapoor in a “Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon” way)  Dhoni-baiting has cemented (yes note the ironic use of the word) his slot in Arnab’s noisy menagerie as the go-to-act for anti-Dhoni vitriol, and I am happy for him. Now if he could only go a little light on the ketchup.

Fulminating over Arnab Goswami’s show is an exercise in recursive hypocrisy and I am not going to do that, mainly because I enjoy watching its hashtag-ridden “what angle will get me maximum TRP” synthetic outrage. With its narrative of national shame and epic betrayal after every loss, however the cricket segments have become incessantly grating,  and by the stellar standards of his show, that is saying something.

Yes, Mr. Goswami. The Indian players give more priority to IPL than to playing for, what you call, the country. Not because they are not patriotic, or rather any less patriotic than you or me, but because they are human beings who react to incentive structures in the same way that, once again, you and me would. And this lie that they play for the country needs to be put to rest once and for all. They play for a private club BCCI, which owns a product called “Indian cricket team” (BCCI itself has claims that when it suits them) and what these so-called mercenary Mir Jaffars are guilty of doing, if of anything, is prioritizing one club over another. It is not their fault that because of canny advertising, large sections of the population believe that somehow putting on a blue cap is like joining the army, and if these players, intelligent men as they are, choose to, by virtue of being in the system, not drink the Kool-Aid (or rather Pepsi, official sponsor of Team India), allow them the cynical privilege of doing so.

The way I see it, the Indian players are like farmers. The main cash crop grows for two months in April, and in order for the field to be fertile, they need to grow some other crops the year around. So of course they don’t call in sick and tired during IPL and their weary limbs and jaded minds complain when they are playing in front of hostile crowds, and then losing. That’s called being human, and it’s not like they are running over pavement dwellers.

But they should play Ranji trophy, they should play Test cricket and IPL should be banned, say ex-cricketers on the panel at Times Now, who are really pissed because they only played Ranji trophy and Test cricket and there was no IPL for them.

No dear sirs it’s not BCCI that’s destroying the game. It is a very rich corporation, that’s beholden only to those that profit from it, and it is as murky and transparent and honest and as in bed with politicians and power-brokers as any other corporation of this size.  While we may rant and rail at its greed, we should also do well to remember that it is perhaps because it is a private corporation, that the government has not gutted cricket yet, in the way they have done hockey and every other sport.

And thus being the canny businessmen they are, the BCCI is not killing “the game”  because it’s fun.

They are doing it because that is exactly what their customers want.

Their customers. Us.

We don’t want to see Ranji trophy, we don’t want to see Test cricket. If we did, that would be where the money would be, and the BCCI would not have to re-engineer their product.

Not that the Times Group does not know that, it’s why they have Poonam Pandey and celebrity cleavage shots rather than serious long-form journalism, because people read the former and pretend to have read the latter.

And it’s why Arnab Goswami is still an anchor with his own signature show as opposed to someone who India could truly trust.




11 thoughts on “Club vs Club

  1. This malaise stretches much further than just cricket – the whole school of gotcha journalism and click bait headlines! Of course it is “public” that is to blame – but maybe the powers to be should try to give the long suffering public some credit and some respite.
    We were led to believe that viewers; attention span for TV was around 35 minutes hence all the drama was packaged into 35 minute bites!! But when they did good intelligent TV – like True Detectives or The Bridge or Mad Men etc – the public could not get enough of it and in fact binged on it!!
    Maybe Arnab and his masters need to start aiming a bit higher – and move the camera from the cleavage to between the ears!!

  2. Agree wholeheartedly. Glad you have come around to the view that Indian cricket team is just a club team and the players don’t “represent the country”. As for Arnab, I stopped watching him a year ago. For those in India, best 9-10 news program these days is on RS TV. Thirty minutes of old dd style news where they just report day’s events from India and rest of the world (only difference being it is not a govt mouthpiece, because, as we learned from the recent controversy RS TV reports to the vice President and not to the govt) followed by 30 minutes of sober, if somewhat boring, discussion on topic of the day.

    1. RSTV is, by a huge margin, the best news channel, and perhaps the only ‘news’ channel remaining. Not only the prime time, their other programs are also top notch. There is just no comparison with the hell hole that is mainstream media.

      1. Mukesh,
        So happy to see another RS TV admirer. Whoever I have spoken to, goes “RS what?”. But I am trying my best to evangelize it. I haven’t seen much outside of prime time, but the serial they showed on making of the constitution was awesome. I hope the channel maintains the same quality and independence even after Ansari’s term is over.

    2. So glad to know that. Guess what, I am pretty evangelical about RSTV too! They should actually pay me for the amount of advertising I do 🙂
      But honestly, it is like a breath of fresh air. And o yes, the Samvidhaan series was amazing! Of course having Shyam Benegal as a director didn’t hurt.
      And I would highly recommend their other shows too…the Big picture (I almost always get informed upon listening to it), ‘vishesh’ reports, ‘Guftagoo’ (whose anchor Irfan is fantastic) and of course ‘Media manthan’, which critiques the mainstream media’s coverage of issues.
      They have a very active youtube channel, which is rather well organized, so one needn’t depend on TV, honestly. 🙂

        Yes, an endorsement from The Hindu will be seen by some as further evidence of RSTV’s leftist leanings, but so be it. I am happy that an excellent news channel (and as Mukesh said, probably the only *news* channel remaining in India) is getting some visibility at last.

  3. Welcome back to your blog GB 🙂 One more thing. Please don’t stop writing books. Loved the extracts from Sultan of Delhi. RS TV is the closest one can get to DD of old, but with a heavy #Adarshliberal slant and is an excellent way of curing one of insomnia. A certain anchor close to a certain Gandhi family lackey and when I mean close I mean close comes from RS TV so you can imagine how embedded they are.

  4. love the way you summed it up in the last line….

  5. Vintage Greatbong! You know, as an old reader of your blog, I was sad when you chose to write books and ignored blogging. I believe your genius lies in explaining (what should be) the obvious to the readers, as only you do. The old Greatbong might have added a little more sarcasm and wit maybe, but the article still packs a punch. Thanks for writing.

  6. I dont feel it is wrong for a journalist to have a strong view about something…if it encourages debate and action bias then why not…except Arnab Goswami despite some of the great work he has done in the past has become too loud and obstructive now even for long time viewers like me. Even then I would prefer him any day over Burkha, Rajdeep, Sagarika & ilk.

  7. Awesome as always.

    I guess a similar debate over FIFA world cup and European club championships also goes on……Keep up the great work….

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