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Cricket TRPs [Oops! NRPs] – Unsung Heroes and Non-Issues

Cricket fever is back again. The zing thing. Next to soaps and reality shows, the ad revenue earner is cricket. Optimized by IPL and leveraged by the World Cup in the sub-continent.

One recollects football players and purists cribbing, a couple of decades or so back, that the world cup has been sold to TV viewership as players are made to play during inhospitable times during the day. The same is now true for cricket for sometime now [that’s how the day and night cricket made its entry].

Well that’s the norm of the show now, across sports and other professions with popular appeal. But something, which though not unexpected, made we dwell on it for more than a passing moment. What one notices is that more and more print media is following electronic media, but focusing more and more on the persona and less and less on the news per-se.

I can think of 3 instances over the past 2 months. One, is the Indian team selection and the choices and the guesses surrounding it. Two, conspicuous absence of Sourav Ganguly [and the back room efforts to get him in] in the IPL – IV. And third, the noise about who will win the world cup and who will not. There are, am sure many stories, which can be cited as examples – but these stories strike by the sheer decibel levels or the lack of mention of key points despite the high decibel levels.

First to talk is Pragyan Ojha. I havenot been following individual cricket performances for past past many years - probably he was done in with bad performance or better performance by R Ashwin. But the point I was wanting to make, is the during the run-in to the selection – there was just no talk of him. He was in the India squad for a reasonable time and that too close enough to the world cup. Suddenly we see R Ashwin upstaging based on one series. As I mentioned, it is not just about getting a slot or not. It is about being talked about or not. We heard about the toss-ups between Rohit Sharma and Sreeshant with others, even though they didn’t have much of chance on merit to be in the first list. I had gotten into the view, that it is a matter of not having god-fathers in cricket and close friends in media. Extrapolating it further, I sense, it could like the sms survey before the next soap episode. Check with readers what they want to read – what looks glamorous and saleable go for that. No point talking about a quiet, no non-sense guy and enhancing his chances. In case he makes it, he maynot be generating adequate TRPS [I mean NRPs], even if he performs. Especially we have people who have greater chance of NRPs – either through charisma or hysterics or god-fathers to talk about them or whatever.

Next is line is Sourav. He is my favourite Indian cricketer ever. But why the hell are we talking about him. The sale by date is gone. He is out because of market efficiencies. He may have scored good last IPL, he may still cause flutter by a six but still he is gone. Period. Lets us try to create a story around it. STOI, which carries some inspiring interviews in the main ed page – carried his interview here on IPL miss, what I waste I must say. Sourav, lost his opportunity to leave elegantly. Lost a bigger opportunity to make more money through commentating [he can be the best ever Indian cricket commentator – he has better reading and better spoken English than most past cricketers in the commentary box]. I felt his IPL miss, got far too much news print than it deserved.

The third decibel which surprises me, is the lack of talk on South Africa. There is too much of talk on India, Sri Lanka and Australia as to who will be the big bang players and team. There is even a healthy space devoted to the erratic Pakis, but the whites from the dark continent have been relegated to side stories – more often than not. The reason, is clear – they are again no nonsense performance not the attention seekers, not the gripe and grapevine creators. No madness or sylvan Bollywood linkages not sub-continent edification attached.

The point to make is, one always, associated with newsprint a greater amount of objectivity vis-à-vis electronic media. But it seems that’s blurring. Both seem to look like a whirr of inconsequential stories, focused to fill the pages and create a rhetoric pandering to the 5 senses at the expense of good reason.

I don’t know, how much my hypothesis would stand against objective sifting of the news stories. But as I quickly gloss thru the TOI sports pages [incidentally the only pages that I read] – all stories look to me the same. Cant distinguish the top left corner from the bottom right. Cant distinguish the Monday stories from the ones in Friday.

February 22, 2011


  1. i seem to have missed all the noise about the ongoing world cup. but reading ur article - cant say i am not glad i have missed it! this way i can remain unbiased and judge things by merit!

    one thing i liked about sourav was the way he promoted languishing players from the much ignored eastern zone. and why not? every selector, every captain promoted players from their region. but the point i am trying to make is - that is the way ganguly discovered dhoni. who else would have given dhoni, a SE Rly TT who hadnt even played the Ranji, a chance? dhoni shd have taken a stand or at least stood by ojha. i dont remember any bad performance by ojha or any game-changing perfomance by ashwin to tip the scale in ashwin's favor! and ojha is not getting any newsspace too as u point out.

    and i had thought SA was the media i am really glad i am missing all the media circus out there!

  2. views are to a great extent biased by what toi says....or what i think toi says...but i second or views on ganguly..this guy has a lot of contri in changing the psyche of the nation...n in building the platform for someone like dhoni to deliver..cheers!!


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