Articles of the year 2007

Too Much of a good thing
Published on September 19th, 2007

The Chairman PCB has stated recently that in his view the India Pakistan matches have been overplayed and may have lost the spectator appeal. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact there has been a massive failure on the marketing of the Cricket matches and the Lahore England match is a prime example. The first three days the Stadium was only half full. It was painfully obvious that the Barmy Army enjoying themselves thoroughly out-shouted the locals easily. At one point the locals looked as if they were outnumbered. It is obvious that the marketing arm of the PCB has absolutely no idea of marketing, and this was pointed out to the Board before the Pakistan India Matches, and after. It seems that the PCB is too deeply committed to a bureaucratic approach which is bound to fail in the hurly burly world of managing mega events. Shehryar must immediately call in his advertising people and insist on their filling the stands. It is not difficult. The board must spend money on attracting crowds to the game--- create the hype. Cricket can be a very boring game, but we have some very talented media experts, who can spin a lot of hype into creating the interest for the crowds. The Lahori loves a Tamasha, but this series is being projected without any spice. The game desperately needs color, and the Lahori has always provided the most colorful, and the loudest of audiences in the entire subcontinent. The crowd at the World Cup final in Lahore was electrifying, even though Pakistan was not in the Finals, the crowd really enjoyed themselves, and were almost as entertaining as the game itself! Last week it was a sad almost mournful stadium. In this scenario it certainly looks as if we have had a surfeit of cricket. However it is not the game, but the marketing people who have not performed. The Chairman must realize that the crowd is as important to the game as the game itself. These are all spectator sports and the spectators should be in the stands, shouting encouragement, goading their teams on to win. They are important to the team's spirit as an incentive to perform, for knowing that 50000 voices are screaming for a wicket or a six, and it will come.

No, Mr Chairman, we need more matches in Pakistan not less. The too much of a good thing argument does not apply here. Bukhatir proved that he could market successfully India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in Sharjah a city that does not have the population of a borough of Lahore. That Pakistan has a very talented team and is a marketing man's dream. To see Shoaib Akhtar in full cry with a crowd behind him are memories that will live with the spectators for a long time. The citizens should not be denied these moments of pleasure. These performances will be the encouragement for the new Shahid Afridis, Danishs and Shoaibs. Even the TV cameras were getting bored with some very mundane and boring shots of the crowd mainly of the Barmy army, and Chacha cricket. It's a wonder the Cameramen did not fall asleep, I know I almost did. Till the magic of Danish, who managed to pull off some incredible deliveries. With a full house the magic would have been complete. And with a full house we could look forward to more teams, and more matches, and more entertainment, not less.

The stadiums are built to be used to provide entertainment to the public, entertainment that is woefully absent in our lives. I am willing to bet that our stadiums are the least utilized in the whole world. The PCB must understand that it is the duty of the Government to provide entertainment for the masses. The stadiums were built to showcase the sport to the spectators and not to Television. Let me add here that with an empty stand your TV revenues will plummet. TV audiences will follow the excitement, certainly not to witness a match played in an empty stadium.

Now with the Supreme Court jumping into the fray we may see even the roof urchins denied their kite flying. Surely their Lordships must realize that kite flying is certainly less dangerous a pastime than phone snatching which has now reached epidemic proportions, and could certainly deserve a closer look by their Lordships, not to mention some of the old outstanding accountability cases which never saw the light of day.