Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Whose side are you on?

A reflection on my closing thoughts from yesterday’s post. I had suggested that we as spectators may end up following games from the stable of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) just as passionately as we follow international games. On second thoughts, I am not so sure.

One of the key aspects of following cricket (or for that matter, any competitive activity) is that we end up taking sides. Even if our home nation (or county/state) is not involved, we support one of the teams. This support could be based on different reasons.

Some people tend to support Australia nowadays (or the West Indies in the 1980s) because they are more likely than not to win, and to be part of a winning side is not such a bad feeling. Especially if your country does not win too often, this could be your best chance to experience a winning feeling.

Some others lean towards the underdog because they think that their support gives the underdog a much-needed shot-in-the-arm. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more people in this category than in the first. Who would’ve got a greater thrill? A neutral fan who supported Australia in the 2007 World Cup final or one who backed India in the 1983 version?

Then there are those who back a team for the way the team plays the game. At various times, Pakistan had a fan following for their mercurial performances. What greater thrill than watching a destructive spell from Shoaib Akhtar followed by a comic run out of Inzamam-ul-Haq?

There are also those people who stand by one team because they can’t stand the opposition. There are just too many instances to cite here, and I am sure you can imagine some of them, and then have some of your own.

I can also think of people who take a team’s side because of one or two key players in that team. At one time, I used to support the West Indies team for the sake of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.

The last group is the only one that could conceivably exist in the ICL format. But is that enough to sustain the ICL? Will that generate a big enough following for them to earn advertising revenues to compensate for the huge sums they are reportedly forking out to the players? I am not too sure. Unless the ICL forms teams around clubs and sells memberships to those clubs. Now that may be an idea.

So which team would you support when watching an ICL game? What would be the basis for that support? And if you don’t back a particular team, how much of the ICL games would you watch?

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