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Gaurav Kalra
Friday , October 07, 2011 at 10 : 44

Is cricket the new porn?


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First, an admission. I have never really enjoyed pornography. Contrived situations all leading to a familiar climax (pardon the expression!). There is never doubt about how it would end. While you pretend to enjoy the voyeurism, I am quite convinced there is relief (pardon that expression too!) when the inevitable closure arrives. Cricket is hurtling down the same road. A billion dollar industry replete with contrived scenarios and pointless climaxes.

The practitioners of a sport aren't professional entertainers in the strictest sense. While their art form requires toil and passion to refine over time, their stage offers no second chances. Failure is a constant companion. Dusting off defeat and rising from its gloom to savour in the fruits of victory is an entrenched routine. Cricketers are no different. But I wonder if the modern game is numbing them to the raw emotion of both extremes? Is the game merely a 'day job'? Perform adequately. Win some. Lose some. Robotic. Joyless. Pornography?

'Professionalism in modern sport' is a tirelessly used cliche. What does it imply though? Must the fan be content if a 'professional sportsman' does just enough to get through a game? Is the 'Professional Cricketer' these days content merely to live another day? Much like a banker or a lawyer must he merely 'clock in' the hours? Perform the tasks assigned? Hope his bosses were pleased with the effort? And simply repeat the routine the next day?

Fundamentally, that defeats the purpose of sport. Sport is meant to grab you by the collar, not allow you to slump further into your seat. It must lift you from drudgery, not condemn you to it. It must entertain with its mystique and purity, not force a pre-ordained scenario down your throat. A scripted soap and sport are radically different. One is a comforting daily accomplice that requests indulgence. The other should be a rare appearance that demands nothing but utter and complete devotion. Novelty is the lifeline of a sporting obsession.

A mere six months ago India's cricket team won the world cup. A few weeks ago India were humiliated in a Test series in England. Today, both seem distant memories. Neither did we really celebrate the World Cup win. Nor did we really mope enough about the defeat in England. Cricket matches simply never disappear from our TV screens. Allowing little time to relish victory or let off steam in defeat. Cricket's over-riding premise at the moment is to provide for endless commercial deals. So a World Cup must be followed less than a week later by an IPL. A Champions League must not wait more than three days after a bruising English summer.

Cricket is a unique sport. Its engagement with a devoted fan base in pockets of the globe is nuanced. Cricket encourages debate and discord. The anticipation of a marquee contest is often delicious. To bask in its aftermath is one of the sport's most defining allures. When played over five days it can enthrall and frustrate in equal abundance. When played over a day, it can provide a gamut of scenarios. When played over three hours, it can produce a spectacle. But when played all the time with monotonous and unrelenting regularity, cricket can be borderline mind-numbing.

In its present form Cricket is run of the mill. It is simply too available, too accessible. A mountain of gluttonous statistical milestones is being achieved but the game is joyless. Players waft from white to blue to yellow uniforms almost in a daze. There is little time to iron flaws out. Little time to reconnect with the love they felt for bowling a ball or wielding a bat.

In life at times it is important to miss the presence of what you love, for both the lover and the object of his desire. The fan is starting to send a subtle message of indifference towards the game. Thrilling finishes and skillful performances aren't enough. Cricket needs to slow down or a terrifying prospect awaits. Indifference might make way for revulsion. And then where would we be?

You can also post your feedback directly to Gaurav Kalra on Twitter @gauravcnnibn


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More about Gaurav Kalra

Gaurav Kalra has been producing sports content on television for over a decade. He started his career at Trans World International where for four years he worked on a variety of programming including magazine shows, news bulletins and live broadcasts. In his next role at Quintus, Gaurav produced a series of programming under the Wisden brand name, including the Wisden Indian cricketer of the century and the Wisden Awards. Gaurav joined CNN-IBN as Sports Editor in 2005.
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