The game of cricket has seen a lot of changes over past decade or so..But what has changed the most is the (extra)ordinary cricket fan’s attitude towards the game
I remember the 2003 WC league match in which Aussies got India bundled out for 125 and won by 9 wickets. After the match, the houses of cricketers were blackened and stoned at. Now consider 2 events which occurred in this CWC exactly 8 years since then.
First, after Nehra bowled that horrible last over, there was no immediate outburst of widespread disappointment. Instead Internet was filled with countless 1 liners & articles ridiculing India and the “Match Ke Mujrim”. Everyone gave vent to his creative potential in mocking the “guilty” on twitters, buzzes, facebooks, orkuts, etc… England has always had the lead in such type of response, be it cricket or football
Second consider the scenario after Bangladesh lost to WI in a pathetic manner. The scenes in the country and at the players’ homes were similar to ones witnessed in India in 2003
What does these 2 scenarios in the same WC tell us ?? Bangladesh is an emerging cricket nation (Even after playing international cricket for 15 years, they are still emerging). The fans in such countries expect the team to better itself with each outing and hence the backlash after any inexplicable bad performance. On the other hand, Indian fans know there is little scope for massive improvements in the current team & it may win or lose on any given day based on its performance on that day & not due to any “paradigm shift” in the performance level. This explains the differences in response to any bad performance on any given day by different teams. But there are some teams like Zimbabwe & Kenya that have simply lost it…
This reminds me of the “Product Lifecycle Concept” taught in marketing class. During “Initial” phase there are little expectations regarding the success of the team & hence no real response from fans in case of bad performance. The minnows belong to this category. In “growth” phase there are expectations of a decent performance & hence the backlash as seen in case of Bangladesh. Most of the teams are in “Mature” phase and continue to be there for a long long time in all probability. A bad performance invites mockery more than disappointment because there is hardly any scope for real improvement and teams get mocked only when they fall from their own established levels. The current Zimbabwe team is currently in “Decline” phase. The team which once made it to higher rounds in 1999 & 2003 WC has now descended to quite low levels for reasons beyond their control . A revival demands introduction of new product i.e a new approach altogether which may take a long time..Thus there are 4 stages in cricket team’s lifecycle just as for any product
Even in mature phase there is growing & declining phase. Teams like SA, Australia who learn from mistakes & make continuous small improvements belong to the former category. India needs to be in this category. Simply accepting the fate that our bowling & fielding are not upto the mark wont help the cause. Your strengths may not always cover up for your weaknesses…You need to continuously make the small improvements to be the most “matured” team..
This is now the 5th consecutive article written by me on CWC..This reflects that there have been a lot of learnings from this World Cup & all related happenings so far..