New Delhi: A headline in an English daily recently screamed, 'Man with a Midas Touch'. Dhoni-mania had officially gone into hyperbole... Somewhere on the road to trying to become a journalist, I realised witty headline-writing skills were an asset in the job (disclaimer: I tend to err on the side of caution, so clearly it isn't my asset!). This one left me a bit baffled thoughâ€¦
That fable was about a curse - how too much of a good thing can be bad , that turning what you touch into gold isn't necessarily the way to 'nirvana'.
So as Dhoni and his bleeding-blue boys won the World Cup, basked in the glory, the country (ah, yes that includes me, even though it meant a very busy weekend - and offs sacrificed) rejoiced... The euphoria also meant a bonanza for corporates - as faces for their products, these boys were now, more than ever before, worth their weight in gold.
The World Cup win was supposed to give the IPL a boost. It made for good business.
But as I write this, I see empty stands at the Eden Gardens - for a Kolkata boy, it's a first at least in 20 years... I remember about 70,000 people turning up to watch India lose to South Africa on Day 5 of a test match... the match wrapped up in barely a session, with just 3-4 Indian wickets it was a foregone conclusion, and yet people came... One of my friends said on FaceBook 'Eden Gardens sees a bigger turnout even for a Bengal under-16 match' - and I tend to agree...
So why suddenly the empty stands? Is it the Dada effect? I think not - the Kolkatans upset as they were at Sourav Ganguly's omission would have reconciled to the fact... And remember, Eden did not have too many World Cup matches and none in which India played.
I clearly think it is too much cricket - the 'Midas touch' is just becoming what it is - a curse. I have only anecdotal evidence that fewer people are watching the IPL this year - the channels in their TRPs will show a rise - window-dressing the numbers is an essential part of the business, but I need no further proof than an empty Eden Gardens.
And there is another 6 weeks of the IPL - another 6 weeks that this cricket-weary country trudges through evenings of instant cricket. With a TV round every corner, and matches telecast live, no matter where they're played, it's a nation watching , and clearly we've had a very long World Cup...
Purists say IPL isn't cricket - it is a show for the crowds... To them I say, the Coliseum that Eden is, stands empty, the crowds have had enough... Besides when I see the likes of Tendulkar and Kallis play IPL games, I think they'd much rather perform to a 'full house' than to an 'empty crowd'.
Maybe it is time cricket administrators gave this a thought - not just the players, even the spectators need a break.