Monday, November 20, 2006

Media hypocricy

The coverage of Jessica Lall murder case on our 24x7 news channels has been bordering on ridiculous for some time now. But Karan Thapar's interview of Ram Jethmalani on Sunday went way beyond the ridiculous.

The whole basis of Thapar's questioning was that the argument used by Mr. Jethmalani in the court is immoral and unethical. Implicit in that suggestion is that the argument is also false and not based on facts. Because, surely if the argument is based on fact, then Thapar can hardly accuse it of being immoral. So, the question then is, on what basis did Karan Thapar conclude that the argument isn't based on fact? Isn't it the job of the judges to make that decision? Why is the media so eager to pronounce judgement in this case. First there was another CNN-IBN anchor pronouncing that Manu Sharma was "indefensible". Now we have Thapar claiming that Jethmalani's arguments are "immoral". Hey guys, how about leaving it to the courts to decide the matter for a change?

Another argument made by Thapar was that Jethmalani was "maligning the reputation of a dead woman who can't defend herself". That's one of the lamest arguments I have ever heard and it is sad to see it coming from a person like Karan Thapar. Now, as I said above, if the claims made by Jethmalani in court is true and crucial to the case, then you can hardly expect him to NOT make those claims just because it allegedly maligns the reputation of a dead woman. If the claims weren't relevant, then surely judges wouldn't have allowed them to be made. As for the veracity of those claims, again, let the judges decide. But, I have a question for the media. If these guys are so concerned about Jessica's reputation being tarnished, then why are they publishing these arguments being made in court? Jethmalani atleast has a reason for making those arguments - he is defending his client. What reason on earth do media have for publishing those arguments, except to increase their TRP ratings?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Plan for restructuring cricket

Interesting interview with BCCI Vice President Lalit Modi on CI. He makes it quite clear why BCCI is frequently having issues with ICC. It is not because BCCI is being greedy or arrogant, but because all the money in Cricket at present is in India and everybody, including ICC and all the other boards, want to have a share of this money. BCCI is naturally trying to protect its turf.

Some quotes:
Tony Greig:
This country has now become the banker of world cricket. There is no doubt about that: this is where the money is and everyone realises it. Knowing the abundance of money here all the world of cricket including Cricket Australia realise that if they want to implement some of their programs this is the key to it.

Lalit Modi:
But you got to keep in mind that when we look at their schedule, when we look at their balance sheets, whether it's right or wrong, majority of these sports are making their money only when India plays with them and that's once in four years. And if you see at the rest of the matches you will see a big spike: two million dollars a game when India plays, when India doesn't play it is 100,000
dollars a game. So they actually make money only when India plays except for the Ashes. Apart from that none of these boards make any money.

I think this is a ridiculous situation to be in for many reasons. First of all, all these teams are supposed to be competing with India, but how can they compete when their boards are making money only when they play against India and hence are dependent on BCCI for their very survival?! Secondly, why should Indian money be financing all these various boards and ICC? Let the Indian money stay within India.

So, how do we achieve this? To do that, teams should have roughly equal sized markets. However, there is no other country which has a cricket market anywhere close to India's size. So, the only way to go forward is to have multiple teams within India. Let there be four teams, one from each zone. In addition to those four, let there be teams from Australia, England, Pakistan and Africa. I think those eight teams will make for a terrific league. There will be intense rivalry between all the teams. In the present league, hardly anyone cares for teams like New Zealand, West Indies and Sri Lanka, not to mention Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. That means, five out of ten teams are uninteresting or boring. Which means, out of the 45 possible match-ups, 35 or close to 80% of the match-ups have suboptimal viewer interest. Compare that to the league suggested above, in which every single rivarly will have huge fan following and generates tremendous interest. Be it any of the Indian regional teams vs Pakistan/Australia/Africa/England or the inter-regional matches like South vs North or North vs West etc. What's more, the teams will have roughly equal sized markets, so we won't have the kind of situation where one team will be driving the entire cricket world.

Ofcourse, you can't name the teams as North, South etc. You can't shout those names in the stadium. But not a problem. Go retro and name the teams as Uttar, Dakshin, Pashchim and Poorab. I can already imagine myself shouting "Dakshiiiin, Dakshiin"!
Ofcourse, players will be free to move from team to team, so you can have a Ponting playing for Dakshin or Dravid playing for Australia.

You might say the Indian regional teams won't be of test standard. Which is utter nonsense. If Sri Lanka with a population of 50 million and the same economic standards as India can produce a test side, there is no reason why each region of India with over 250 million population cannot produce a test side. To start with, they can use imported players to improve the quality of the teams, till they produce required number of Test quality players.

I think this proposal keeps the international flavour of the game, takes unwanted/uninteresting teams out of the picture, restores balance in terms of market sizes of teams and makes for a terrific league. What say?