KKR is breaking my heart.
In the third season of IPL (Indian Premier League), India’s T20 cricket tournament, the Kolkata Knight Riders have again failed to prove themselves as a team to be taken seriously. This year they started off on a better note than the pathetic performances that characterized the last couple of years. However, it soon became apparent that inconsistency was to be the name of their game. The hopes of all Kolkatans rose and fell with each match they played, mirroring the rise and fall of the team’s fortunes. After having lost a couple of key matches, one after failing to defend a high score and the other in a spectacular show of incompetence, they are now all set to bow out before reaching the semi-finals. The only sliver of hope now remains in the minds of the mathematicians and the hearts of the most ardent fans.
I wonder now whether this entire IPL ‘tamasha’ is not all just a scam. After all, everybody makes money – the players, the team owners, the sponsors. The only people who lose out are the ‘mango people’ a.k.a. ‘aam aadmi’ who treat cricket as more than just a game. For them it is a chance to find heroes in common men, it is a chance to replace the frustrations of daily life with passion , it is a chance to triumph with every swing of the bat, it is a chance to revel in the reflected glory of a bunch of guys from different corners of the world. Cricket is catharsis in this country.
But now, with all the big bucks involved, the auctions, the big ticket sponsorships, what incentive is there for the players to win the game? Is the love of the game enough? Especially for the international cricketers like Mc Cullum, Hussey et al, whose pay packet is ensured and whose solidarity is not really in question. Even for the younger Indian players perhaps the good money, the temporary adulation, the endorsement deals and the post match parties with PYT’s are enough. As for a senior player like Ganguly, the belief of several hundred fans does not seem enough to keep him going for long. And it may be a sad truth that Dada is now unable to cope. Vindicating himself in one match with a half century plus a super stumping plus a cocky catch, we find him blinking in the face of defeat in the next.
Shah Rukh Khan, the owner of KKR, was another reason for many of us to support the team. But this has been one of the few, possibly the only instance, where SRK’s Midas touch has not worked. Yes, yes, he has still made money but surely for a superstar with justified egotism, this dismal performance is unacceptable and embarrassing. His tweets only show how increasingly irate he is becoming with KKR. Perhaps it is time for him to dissociate himself and remove the pressure of his popularity from the team. He is, after all, part of the reason why the stands get full in Eden.
Just for the record, KKR are now ranked 7th out of 8 teams. With a good chance of finishing at the bottom. Black or purple, it’s clearly not the team colours which need changing. Maybe the players, maybe the coach, maybe the owner, maybe the mindset.
For a lot of people in Kolkata, “IPL season 3 is now closed”, like a friend of mine put it. Unless…