Monday, March 26, 2007

An advice to M.J. Akbar (and similar self-appointed-cricket-experts)

Anupam is understandably sore after the defeat (so am I!) and so seems M.J. Akbar (He is a senior journo and editor of Asian Age). But Anupam is a true blue cricket fan who loves, respects and understands the game and its nuances, unlike Mr. Akbar who seems to be just one of those self appointed cricket experts who first praise the cricketers indiscriminately and then call for their heads, when they lose.

In his recent article in Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle (Bylines, 25th March "Money and Murder: The Making of a Bloodsport") he calls the minnows of the worldcup as 'Joke' teams, repeatedly. He calls Bermuda players as Jokers and Dwayne Leverock as "a sumo wrestler who defied the laws of gravity just once to take a magnificent catch against India". It doesn't matter to him that he should get his facts right as he believes Leverock is the captain (Irvine Romaine is the captain!).

What exactly he means when he calls new teams as 'Joke'? Even Sri Lanka was also considered to be a joke team till only 4-5 years before they won the world cup in 1996. And who does Mr. Akbar think he is to make fun of the efforts of these cricketers? On one hand we complain that cricket is not played in enough countries and when new countries try to make their mark, cynics like him ridicule them. More than anything else, it is the love of the game that makes these 'cricketers' practice on weekends when they are not working for their livelihood. But what will Mr. Akbar understand? I doubt he has ever played cricket, forget loving the game.

He is quick to blame whole of the world: players, BCCI & ICC, politicians ("not least being the politicians, from Bengal to Jharkhand to Maharashtra to Kerala, who have muscled into cricket space in the hope that it will get them votes"), corporates and even poor commentators, but what about the bunch of 'jokers' Mr. Akbar is heading? He is the president of Editor's Guild of India. Hope you get my drift. Who is flaring this fire of cricket hysteria? Who is annointing the debutant cricketers as youth icons after their first match winning wicket haul or century? I remember well that it was a TOI article which called Dhoni 'rockstar' after his first century. Clap them when they are doing well, slap them when they are not, you will always get audiences.

And in a cricket-crazy nation, it has some other benefits as well. So when CNN-IBN asks you to sms a CHEER to 2622, this campaign is sponsored by LG and there is a revenue sharing with the service providers or when HT's world cup special is sponsored by Nokia and Tata Sky, some one out there is smiling more than due to journalistic pleasure.

Mr. Akbar is a senior journalist so I can understand that he is suffering from what Vir Sanghvi calls 'Editoritis' ("Its symptoms includes an inability to say “I don’t know” to any question") but for some things, he can better keep his mouth shut.

More: Read Seema Goswami's column in here

Sunday, March 11, 2007