I'm sure that that's not the result of the first cricket test between India and Australia but it may as well be. Thanks to the Board Of Control For Cricket in India who seem determined to beat everyone who does not pay them lots of money, with their "board of control", the result is as relevant to me as the Farnarkling match between Titan and Europa.
The BCCI have decided in their wisdom that cricket isn't really a sport anymore but a multi-million-lakh DollarPoundRupee business, and because they're benevolently hosting the series that they have the right to charge beyond what free-to-air radio will bear because their pay TV subscribers will more than compensate for the shortfall.
The thing is that Cricket Australia and the players who continue to play in the IPL, are complicit in this because they too want their cut of the gloriously tasty pie on offer.
The escalating costs of broadcasting rights, audience demands to return to normal programming and the need to keep the airwaves open for emergency broadcasting contributed to the ABC's decision not to send a commentary team to India.
- Statement on ABC cricket coverage of Indian tour, 12th Feb 2012.
I just don't buy the ABC's statement about keeping the airwaves "open for emergency broadcasting" because in the age of digital radio, they can open an emergency radio station in a matter of minutes; I know this because this has already happened with various cultural festivals. This is purely about money as further evidenced by this funny little statement:
2013 India Test series
Due to restrictions on media accreditation imposed by the BCCI, we will be unable to provide photos from the four-Test series between India and Australia.
Further to this the Sydney Morning Herald has also found it difficult to obtain photo accreditation and quite rightly I think, has decided to ridicule the BCCI on its pages:
- Sydney Morning Herald (Print Edition), 26th Feb 2012
I do find it a little amusing though, that rather than trying to bash an independent voice as Christopher Martin-Jenkins tried to last year and as I later reported on in Horse 1394, the ABC have decided to embrace the independent voice of Test Match Sofa. Their website is here: http://testmatchsofa.com/
Last week, as the Australian cricket tour of India was gearing up for the first Test, the realisation dawned on many cricket fans that short of having access to Pay TV, there's no live broadcast of the series available in Australia. Well, that turns out to be not quite true. Provided you're happy to listen to an unofficial cricket broadcaster that has developed quite a cult following on the Internet.
- Chris Coleman, ABC 702 Sydney, 25th Feb 2012.
This might sound like sour grapes on my part (which it is) but I completely understand the mentality. Professional sports players, coaches, grounds, trainers, coaches and managers, now command such high salaries in all sorts of sports, that monetising and squeezing the wallets of the fans ever harder and harder is the only way to go.
Sure you might end up with a situation as with the Australian summer of cricket where spectators have been priced out of the grounds and crowds begin to dwindle to the point of embarrassment but that doesn't matter when you have more than a billion people across the globe who can potentially pay for it through a pay TV subscription.
Cricket is a weird game by nature. At provincial level across the world, you could lower the price of admission to zero and because most people go to work for five days a week, even then the only people who'd show up are uni students and retired people, or exactly the same crowds as now. One only needs to look at any Sheffield Shield match to realise that of the nine paying spectators, three have knighthoods, three are trying to sneak alcopops into the ground and one is a dog called Kevin.
Move up to international level though and series like the Ashes and whoever is playing for the number one world ranking, have sell out crowds and often a scramble to even get tickets. That however only applies to a few select nations, other test playing nations find it a little more difficult to attract spectators to the ground.
India vs New Zealand for example, probably isn't likely to have an incredibly large demand but India vs Australia is such that the BCCI figures that they can charge billions. Consequently organisations like the ABC and the BBC have been priced out, for the BCCI honestly couldn't give a rip if other nations' taxpayers have to fit the bill for their greed.
Honestly, I think that the BCCI are playing the long game here. With the 50 over One Day International dying on its feet, if the BCCI can successfully finally kill off test cricket, then all those professional players will come and play in their shiny; glittery; "whatever it is" cup. It was the cricket world's fault for not milking the game for all it was worth earlier.
I'm sitting here completely surrounded by NO cricket!
The fact that the test series is not on the radio, even when technology exists to broadcast all sorts of things on digital radio simultaneously, is the ultimate expression of the fact that the game of cricket is no longer for the people but for those prepared to pay.
The BCCI after trying to lock out the BBC on the England tour, have now successfully done so with the ABC on the Australia tour. Once looks churlish; twice looks downright mean. The rest of us just have to accept a world where the BCCI is trying to destroy Test Cricket.
There is a strange irony that it was possible to listen to a test series from the newly independent India in 1951 on ABC Radio but impossible more than 60 years later. Oh look how far technology has come.
I congratulate India on its 17-nil Test Series win; well done to the BCCI. Maybe in a few years' time once the state of cricket has been completely tainted, the BCCI will apply to leave the ICC... we can only hope.