Cricket madness: India’s media frenzy

Published: February 20, 2011
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The number of people playing cricket on the streets has increased.

The ICC World Cup 2011 is just around the corner and the hysteria has already kicked in.

Issues of the grounds and change in certain venues haven’t dampened the spirit in a country where cricket is close to being religion. With a Rs1.2 billion insurance cover to an estimated Rs6.3 billion of betting money riding on this game, this year the mania is a little different from the previous years.

Undoubtedly, India is being counted as one of the hot favourites to win the World Cup. After the 2003 team led by Saurav Ganguly, this team captained by M S Dhoni seems to be in the running to reach the final this year.

Captain Cool (as Dhoni is popularly known) has led the team to many a victory in the recent past but the win in the warm up match against Australia has increased the nation’s confidence in him and his team.

Even in the North-eastern region of India where cricket is not that popular, the ensuing ICC World Cup has aroused an overwhelming interest among sports enthusiasts.

A billion dreams will rest on their shoulders as they seek to become the second Indian team, after the 1983 Kapil Dev team, to win the top prize in one-day cricket.

However, there seems to be a media overdrive of sorts, with every news channel and paper coming up with World Cup centric shows and promotional campaigns of winning the World Cup.

Each one seems to be in a race to outdo the other by getting an experts panel practically every day to talk about the nuances of the game. And if that doesn’t garner enough eyeballs, the Bollywood brigade has also joined the bandwagon. Not only have all major Bollywood film releases been pushed to after the World Cup but stars are also sharing their cricketing knowledge with the world.

There is speculation that the reason behind one of the film industry’s most prestigious awards breaking their 50 year tradition of holding the awards end of February and holding the event early, is due to the World Cup.

Advertisers aren’t far behind, with cricket based advertisements thronging the tube all at once. Even before a ball is bowled, there is a pitched battle among business groups vying for attention.

It is estimated that over one billion viewers will witness the third largest televised event from their homes across the globe. A similar number of viewers are expected to watch the fourth season of the Indian Premier League that follows right after this. It is an unparalleled season of media frenzy, millions in cash changing hands during these three months.

Suddenly, the number of people playing cricket on the streets seems to have risen and TV set sales are also on the rise. This time, it’s not just men who are interested but the women too.

This is not only because India is one of the hosts or a favourite but because it is probably the Master Blaster’s last World Cup. The only thing that has been eluding the record breaking Sachin Tendulkar is a World Cup victory. This time around, not only do we want India to win the World Cup but we want the World Cup to be won for that one man who has managed to unite the entire nation. We want him to bring the World Cup home for us.

However, having said that this team is carrying the pressure of expectations of 1.2 billion people for whom cricket is not just a sport but close to being a fanaticism of sorts.

After the opening ceremony, the entire nation is going to be glued to one sport and will watch with baited breath as Tendulkar will play his last World Cup, hoping that he wins it.

zoha.tapia

Zoha Tapia

A freelance journalist who lives in Bombay

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.