Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cricket in Crisis?

Polls show that the public finds cricketing scandals more interesting than the sport itself by a 95% margin!

Cricket’s international governing body considers institutionalising scandal to keep sport’s viewership in the triple digits! 


The back story to these incredible developments?  “Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif have been found guilty of plotting to fix parts of a Test match last year after a lucrative betting scam”, the BBC reports.  But has the scandal tarnished cricket’s reputation, or will, as some are suggesting, the headline-making scandal be the salvation of the game that hundreds of billions of people have long contended is no more a sport than is ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’?

California Mwananchi dispatched its intrepid team of reporters to the far reaches of the earth (casualties were kept to a minimum, though one of them appears to have vanished on the Circle Line in London) to see what the good, the great and the irrelevant of the cricketing world have to say on the subject.  We spoke with all of them, one twice by mistake, and report below.


We catch up with an ICC official who wishes to remain anonymous in the Dubai Headquarters.  Dubai?  Seriously?  Could you pick a shadier place to locate your offices?  “It is in fact true”, he admits, “that we are considering instituting ‘Scandal Sundays’ to drum up interest in the coming week’s matches”.  Our daring reporter points out that this sounds dodgy.  “But the public demand is just breathtaking”, the official replies.  “We’ve had two dozen letters in during the past week—more than since our body was founded—saying how interesting they find the sport.  It’s true that half of those came from a 94720 zip-code in the United States, and appeared to be in the same handwriting, and that a gang of little old ladies in Surrey were responsible for ten more, but all the same...demand is demand!”

Another of our courageous investigators goes down to the Oval itself.  We catch up with a long-time fan sitting up in the stands, who gives his name only as J Major.  “It’s quite extraordinary”, he muses.  “Normally I’m the only person in the stands, but there were at least fifteen others for one of last week’s matches!  It’s done wonders for the sport.  I say give the chaps a medal!  I gave Bob Mugabe one, so this can’t be any worse!”

In Yorkshire, we spoke with a man who was lurking around the edges of a cricket pitch where an amateur match was taking place.  Initially embarrassed to give his name (“I don’t know...being seen at a cricket match just seems so deviant...”), he later consented.  “It’s Tears.  B T Tears.  The scandal just opened my eyes to the sport.  I’d always assumed it was just mind-numbingly boring, that it was a bunch of guys in white standing around for days on end, sipping tea.  But this has shown me that it’s all so much more”.

But not everyone is so sanguine.  We persuade an eminent cricketing commentator to speak with us in a North American cafe.  He corrects our reporter, who has written his name on his notepad as Subhas Chandra Bose (“I bet you get that a lot though, right?”), and emits a world-weary sigh when asked about the scandal.  “It’s all just going to the dogs.  It starts with this T20 business—slippery slope there—and now people are embracing this odious scandal.  It’s sad to watch a once-great sport degenerate into some popular reality show-fest.  The trick that people who attack cricket have never grasped is that you’ve got to be able to see through the match!”

In Melbourne we catch up with a giddily happy couple on their sofa.  We put it to them: has the scandal been good for cricket.  “Oh, it’s been wonderful for us!” the wife gushes.  “You see, our relationship was on the rocks.  All Mike ever did was sit around in a comatose state in front of the television set, watching this horrible game.  And I couldn’t relate to it.  And, I had to be forever waking him up and reminding him which year it was.  Didn’t I, Mike?”  “Yep, that’s right”, her husband agrees, somewhat shamefacedly.  “But now I can relate to cricket, too.  It’s saved our marriage, hasn’t it then?”  And as the happy couple head ‘round the bases, we quietly slip out of the house. 


For an undoubtedly more nuanced if slightly less accurate look into the bizarre world that is Cricket, consult this blog (especially if you’re having one of those nights when you just can’t seem to get to sleep).

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