Count this as another dispatch from my two weeks back home in India: I find it utterly remarkable — just plain, crazy remarkable — how many pages each daily newspaper devoted to World Cup cricket news. Mind you, this wasn’t just on days that India played — that, I could forgive after some discussion. No, this included days even when England played Netherlands, or when the minnows were at each other. Of course, the pages weren’t about these games but endless, repetitive and frenzied dissections of any news (I use the term loosely) from the Indian cricket camp. Oh, Sehwag said Sreesanth didn’t bowl well? Let’s talk about it for a whole page! Oh, Dhoni made an innocuous comment at a press conference that no one cares about? Let’s have three columns!
The columns themselves are ridiculous. Why do newspaper editors think readers care what Mohinder Amarnath or Ravi Shastri or Sunil Gavaskar or Ian Chappell think, at least on such a regular basis? We already see all four men on various cricket analysis shows (all of varying degrees of pointlessness), and their columns read like second-rate, derivate stuff. These guys are roaming from match to match, offering commentary and video features for Cricinfo, only to return to their hotel rooms and face a blank page. The end result is just waffle and cliches, not interesting analysis. I suspect editors understand this, because many papers fill their pages with reams of statistics and analysis (from something called “CoW”) trying to predict who will win the next game. (Again, does anyone care that the numbers predict Sri Lanka should beat Pakistan?)
The real tragedy of all this is that as the World Cup started, the National Games were also being broadcast. I don’t know much about the National Games (again, I blame this on Indian newspapers, which usually only accorded half a freaking page to this tournament), but it’s really interesting and features some of India’s best athletes from all sorts of sports. No monopolies are good ones, people.