(Not) Gladwell and Cricket

I generally like Tishani Doshi’s IPL blog, but her latest effort — a Malcolm Gladwell-interpreation of cricket — needs some revision.

Doshi tries to use Gladwell’s analysis of “social epidemics,” which he put out in his bestseller, The Tipping Point, to look at the IPL tournament. To that end, she places key players — Lalit Modi, Shane Warne, etc. — in the three categories Gladwell identified as crucial to spread or radically change behavior.

Now, putting aside whether or not Gladwell’s thesis actually makes sense, Doshi doesn’t quite use it properly here. She’s trying to figure out what makes the IPL successful, but that’s not what Gladwell’s completely interested in. He cares about social behavior, as Doshi herself writes, not just a tournament’s particular marketing or brand strategy. Doshi’s analysis would make more sense if more people started to care about Twenty20, or cricket in general, as a result of IPL, but I see little evidence of the game’s heightened popularity outside non-cricket nations.

Why does it matter? So what if Doshi misapplied Gladwell? Well, it matters because the IPL’s supposed success (I haven’t seen any balance books myself) isn’t all that much of a mystery. Lalit Modi simply used the BCCI’s financial and political clout to create a tournament whose format wasn’t even his own. This isn’t to say the tournament’s staging does not require a huge amount of logistical work, but that’s not all that creative or worthy, is it?

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8 thoughts on “(Not) Gladwell and Cricket

  1. Q says:

    I haven’t read the Tipping Point but heard a lot about it.. so I wouldn’t know whether Tishani applies Gladwell’s logic appropriately or not but u say:

    “I see little evidence of the game’s heightened popularity outside non-cricket nations.”

    Not true. 20-20 cricket and later the IPL, has attracted viewers for the sport that otherwise have little or no interest in cricket. I’ve seen it in the UAE in huge numbers amongst the Americans, Canadians, Chinese, Philippinos, and the Arabs.

    Plus I’ve heard from friends in the US that the interest in the IPL and 20-20 cricket in general is overwhelming and that people who dont even understand the game are not getting more interested in it.

    Its true that 20-20 and the IPL have created an audience that is purely theirs.. i.e. it is not audience derived from those that watch and play ODIs and Tests, but completely different. Some of them don’t even know that 20-20 is the 3rd version of the game.

    • duckingbeamers says:

      Thanks for the comment, Q. Being in the US, I see absolutely no change in the level of interest in the game, other than a few articles in the mainstream media. I’m sure there are many in the US who do follow the game, but they most likely come from areas with strong cricketing traditions.

  2. Q says:

    Are u saying that some Americans have not become interested in the game? Many of my Paki friends in NY, DC, and Seattle tell me that their American colleagues are hearing and asking abt cricket more than ever before..

    • duckingbeamers says:

      May be true. I don’t know — this is all anecdotal stuff, not scientific polling. But again, from my own admittedly limited observation, I’m not seeing much of a difference.

  3. Krishna says:

    Nice post. Like you, I haven’t seen much interest beyond people of existing cricket nations. Also, despite the hype, I don’t think it is not as popular as, say, a World Twenty20 Cup. Most of the interest is parochial – Person A supports Team B because he comes from the same town/state.

  4. Q says:

    I differ Krishna.. I support a new team everyday, particularly because im not from either town or state.. for that matter im not even from India 🙂

    Why not support the entertaining cricket?

  5. […] to Wikipedia for lifting some of the content in her article. My main grouch (as well as that of Ducking Beamers) was that she did not understand the “tipping point” concept and was clearly out of her […]

  6. […] briefs. It’s sad because I actually like Doshi’s stuff, even if I’ve occasionally disagreed with her. I imagine it’s not easy to write thought-provoking blog posts every other day […]

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