Monday, April 11, 2011

IPL at Kochi a failure?

What happened to T.C.Mathew’s  vibrant Kochi ?

While I’m writing this, four games in IPL has been over and the respective winners were Chennai Super Kings, Rajastan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians. The inaugural match between CSK and KKR had a capacity crowd at M.A.Chidambaram stadium, so was the second match played on Saturday afternoon in Hyderabad, which also witnessed a capacity crowd. It was heartening to see the Pune Warrior fans travelling  all the way from Pune to Navi Mumbai to watch their stars play and filled up the D.D.Y.Patil stadium almost to its capacity. With this kind of crowd in working hours, it was definite that there would be a capacity crowd for the late evening Saturday match between RCB and the debutant Kochi Tuskers Kerala at the 55,000 capacity Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi. Surprisingly what one could see was a stadium not even half filled; a meager 17000 odd crowd was all we had in the Kaloor stadium. No body would have expected such a lukewarm response from the city of Kochi that had seen in the past, swelling with capacity crowds for various one day international matches that featured India.

Sunday’s (April 10, 2011) “The Hindu”, reports thus- “…the Kochi stadium, a big oval that can seat 55000, was not half full to witness the grand party. For a team which was making its debut in the glamorous IPL, the response of the fans was a big disappointment. Just about 17000 fans turned up to witness the opening show that had stars like Mahela Jayawardene, Muthiah Muralidharan, S.Sreesanth, Virat Kohli and Zaheer Khan.

The empty stands at the Jawahrlal Nehru stadium, Kochi makes one to contemplate the following points.

1.    A major chunk of the people who came to watch the one day internationals in the past were from Malabar and the southern districts like Trivandrum and Kollam. The original Kochi crowd might have been a small percentage.
2.    Why didn’t people turn in from other parts of the state? Could it  be related to the reason that people believed that this is just a Kochi team and not a team representing Kerala?
3.    Kochi is a small city of a population of just a shade above 6 lakhs and 70% of it coming under lower income level, and expecting events like IPL (Ticket prices are comparitievly high) to be successful seems to be a serious lapse on the part of the people who took intiative to form the team based in this city. Mathrubumi reported on Sunday that the low turn out could be due to the high rated tickets.

Almost a year ago, when T.C.Mathew, secretary Kerala Cricket Association and Ajith Kumar, the former secretary, fought tooth and nail against identifying the team as a Kerala team and insisted a Kochi tag, people including this writer envisaged this situation of lukewarm response from the people of Kerala. Shashi Tharoor due to the pressure from people had requested the KCA to have a few matches of the team in Trivandrum and Kozhikode as well. The response from T.C.Mathew and his cronies were uncalled for, as they said Kochi has a vibrancy that no other city in Kerala has! Now they have seen the kind of vibrancy Kochi had shown to their debut match. The so-called vibrancy is a Frankenstein  created by certain Medias who have stakes in Kochi. Shame on you T.C.Mathew, who has drooped so low almost like an agent of real estate mafia of Kochi. The event was an utter failure and I seriously doubt in the next edition of the IPL, the team could be shifted to Ahmedabad. Ultimately, the owners want revenue and the gate collections form the major share of it.

 Shakeela for Tuskers!!

                                  Picture courtesy:

Kochi Tusker’s debut match and Kochi stadium’s inaugural match at the IPL was a great disappointment.  It was a disappointment not because the team was crushed by A.B.De Villier’s swashbuckling innings, but by the kind of luke warm response from the people of Kochi (the fans as they call it).The 55000 capacity stadium had altogether just a 17000 odd crowd (that included 5000 odd RCB fans , some 200 odd journalist, 350 policemen and the KCA bandwagon(that could number in 1000s) lead by T.C.Mathew). A local newspaper report attributed the debacle to the high-ticket rates! T.C.Mathew the self-designated apostle of Kerala Cricket blamed it on Rahul Gandhi; he said that all the fans who were supposed to watch the match had gone to attend Rahul Gandhis meeting (who was there in Kochi the same day). If we play the videos of Rahul Gandhi’s meeting at Kochi, that struggled even to attract 2000 people, we will understand how childish Mathew is. Kerala cricket team former coach Balchandran attributed the empty stands to bad marketing (Poonam "Nude" Pandey should be used for marketing in the future). All are just ludicrous!

Nevertheless, the positive about the whole thing was that, there were hordes of people fixed up in their seats or hovering around, where the cheergirls danced. I thought, 5000 odd might have come only to see the cheer girls gyrate their hips. At this rate, I think, Shakeela in the stands would have made a great difference to the Kochi Machus. Shakeela became the heartthrob of Malayali youngsters with her antics in soft porns of the 90’s. I urge T.C.Mathew to rope in for Shakeela for the next match and force an increased turn out at the Jawharlal Nehru stadium! Shakeela should be made the ambassador of the team at the earliest, or else I doubt the gujju owners of Kochi Tuskers may be forced to shift its venue to Ahmedabad! Those who buy this idea may please send request saying,” We want Shakeela” to Mr.T.C.Mathew, Secretary, Kerala Cricket Association, Thycaud, Trivandrum-6950014. or to the former secretary Ajith Kumar, Kaloor stadium, Kochi. They both know how more vibrant Kochi can become with the presence of the likes of Shakeela and Poonam Pandey.

Monday, April 4, 2011

India’s world cup victory and the police intolerance to the street celebrations in Trivandrum

This photograph is not related to the original incident.

                             The whole of India could not ask for another day to celebrate in grandeur, other than this day when its team surged to the helm of the world cricket by winning the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. There was not a city in India that did not celebrate the country's greatest achievement in sports. The street celebrations in almost all the major cities went on untill the Sunday dawn. Our own Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram also joined the celebrations in a jovial way with young people carrying Indian flags, shouting slogans, thronged various parts of  the city. The centre of the street celebrations was of course the statue square, which is in front of the secreteriat, the Governing axis of the state of Kerala. The M.G.Road was obviously blocked partially and made a thin traffic blockade in the middle of night. Youngsters rode bikes carrying the tricolor, drove cars, other four wheelers spread with large Indian flags and shouting slogans in ecstasy. Crackers burst at the corners of the city and colorful fireworks emblazoned  the skies.

                                   Video courtesy :Binu; youtube

 However, the happiness was short lived as the police who were watching the whole show silently were ordered to disperse the crowd to reinstate the traffic flow. The police went on a rampage beating up people with lathis; whomever they found on the road were beaten up and were scared off. Is this the way to control a celebrating crowd? Why couldn’t the police control the youngsters who were rejoicing their team’s bigest victory, in a peaceful manner? Are we still carrying the British legacy of lathi charges and violent retributions to nonviolent crowds? Many cities in India, yesterday celebrated almost blocking the roads and traffic, but nowhere had we seen such savagely act! Are the police in Kerala, showing up their ego or are they trying to stamp their authority of dominance on the man on the street. There is no law that suggests violent action against crowd that on the course of celebration was uintentionally creating a few hindrances to the traffic. There was not any curfew imposed that said that people should not flock on the roads. Surya TV reported that most of the policemen were drunk!

A few months back a political party blocked the roads for days in Kerala in the name of blockading central Government offices, Why was the police then a mute spectator? Where did the protectors of law go then? The law should be equal for everyone. The youngsters of Trivandrum were sporty enough, as they did not react to the nomadic and brutal action of the Kerala police. The repercussions  of beating up the youngsters would have been different if it was a Kolkatta or a Mumbai.