A Champions League Twenty20 Rant

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tim-mathiasWorld Cricket Watch will be bringing you reports from the heart of the action as our roving reporter Tim Mathias is in India taking in the sights and getting swept along by this cricket mad nation. He continues to pursue his dream of publishing his ongoing research on the evolution of Indian cricket, from ‘Cultural Supremacy to Cricketing Swadeshi’ and the Champions League is the next logical step.


Tim’s Indian Rants


left: the Andrew Lloyd Webber of India

As the group games were finalised, the various journalists from across the globe tapped away and submitted their pieces for websites, magazines and daily papers. But not without great confusion and debate about the next round of the tournament.  Who was through?  How are the groups assembled?  The ‘League’ stage requires calculations of points, net run rate, and applicable wickets per balls bowled.  And then the result of one game carried over from the group stage? This has lead to great perplexity, and the Bangalore Royal Challengers have a near impossible chance of reaching the semis, despite only playing one game in the league stage so far.

To continue about the format of the tournament, I noticed that even into the ‘League’ stage, the Indian teams are still playing at home grounds and there is the small matter of the ‘Super Saturday’.  The Diwali celebrations will light the skies of India on the 17th, and hopefully more fireworks as the two IPL teams meet each other, with a clash of ‘Viru-bomb’ Sehwag and ‘Jumbo Chakri’ Kumble. Reading the tournament format guide, it appears that the fixture arrangement has been somewhat constructed, as it ‘facilitates ease of logistical operations and provide spectators with certainty’. This, of course, is great for local fans, plus also advantageous to the Indian teams in front of hysterical partisan support. And even better for the Diwali television ratings.

Over the past few days there has been a literal flood of emails from the public relations firm handling the tournament. More often than not, the information contained in the emails offers media opportunities to interview players and management, invitations to observe training or essential tournament news.  Occasionally there is a sugar-coated offering, and yesterday brought a selection of figures from the latest TV ratings report. In the words of the PR people, they are ‘certain the interest among viewers will only grow from here’ with an ‘encouraging response from viewers’, bearing  ‘testimony to the potential of the tournament’. It goes on to highlight the ‘city-based loyalties’ of viewership.  And for those not used to PR speak: The Airtel Champions League has so far been viewed by just 1% of the Indian public.  With poor crowds in the early stages, and Indian teams being eliminated, the interest can surely just dip further.

Like Champions League football, each game is preceded by pageantry and fanfare. Teams appear onto the field of play, in lines behind a flag-waving mascot. The competing teams assemble, stand to attention and display goodwill by shaking hands and exchanging pennants. And all to the tournament theme tune, by A.H. Rahman (dare I say it the Andrew Lloyd Webber of India, albeit much younger and fashionable).  It is no ‘Zadok the Priest’, the football theme that we are accustomed to listening to. However, it has not stopped a number of Indian journalists singing and humming along as they compile their post-match text, much to my annoyance.

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