From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.32 :: NO.18 :: May. 02, 2009
Empty stands at a rain-affected IPL match. Even when the matches are on the stands are only sparsely populated in the first half.
There are eight teams and more than a 100 players, but it’s taken a virulent virtual pen to rake up the IPL’s first storm. The fake IPL player blog — its claimant a frustrated fringe player in the Kolkata Knight Riders squad with little or no chance of getting a game — has some of the choicest venomous player/coach/team owner/commentator nicknames and a huge following. The player’s anonymity invests him with a freedom and irreverence that read ers love, as they allow their curiosity to get the better of them, post after post.
“The other good thing about the IPL is that I can see all these big shots from pretty close range. My team has a superstar captain...err sorry... ex-captain. We have a megalomaniac as our owner. Our coach comes with loads of attitude and baggage. Some of our international players are interesting characters. Unfortunately, our biggest international player has dropped out this time. Otherwise, the scenes would have been even more interesting,” is how he kicks off in his first post at www.fakeiplplayer.blogspot.com.
His coach and his team owners bear the worst of his rants. Having caused a stir and seen a list of suspects doing the rounds, he writes, “These blokes probably didn’t even know what a blog was till today morning, and now were being accused of writing one that could finish their careers. The 3rd suspect is a senior cricketer who has already made his mark as a writer. Come on man. Give him a break. He knows that the team’s being nice enough to let him hone his Test match skills in IPL, do they think he’ll return that favour this way? The 4th suspect is a non-playing staff member. But you know what, every cloud has a silver lining.
“Till last night I thought that if there’s one thing in which no one can beat the coach, it would be in a game of “Who’s dumber than a fifth grader?”. But now, after seeing the list of suspects released by the team administration, I think Coachie wouldn’t win at that either.”
Most disclosures are reaffirmations of whatever perceptions exist, which makes the audacity and the anonymity more of the selling point. Cricketers, coaches and team owners are painted as power-hungry, insecure and self-obsessed, not invulnerable to female advances. Nothing new. Having sensed that, he quickly moves on to building his own intrigue-filled legend, while dropping hints, bashing his team and discussing strategies. The witch-hunt for his identity and the Kolkata management’s vehement denial and dismissal of the blog as “Poison pen writing of the dirtiest variety, but far too many factual errors,” has only served as fodder.
“I am back guys! Things have been pretty tight lately. There’s been a crackdown. Every player is looking over his shoulder. Nobody knows who I am. But I exist, right within them, right next to them. Every breath they take, every move they make. I am watching! And they know it. And they are scared. They are worried,” he says, as one half-expects a death curse.
The Kolkata Knight Riders... at the receiving end of a strange blog.
This isn’t to suggest the blog is above suspicion. For a player with little hopes of a successful IPL career, the blogger’s bitterness fades away soon enough to reveal a self-appointed surveyor having the time of his life. Signs do point to a publicity move, a definite possibility at a time when self-respect is sacrificed for greater good. Negative publicity died with the single-dimensional evolution of publicity.
But the blog’s authenticity cannot be dismissed entirely. Specific team strategies are criticised and some discussed in advance, even as revelations get too candid and some potentially detrimental to the event, to be risked for publicity.
“…But, since I haven’t been blogging lately, I had a lot of time to play captain..er... sorry...Coach. I’d bring in the reserve ’keeper for his lower order batting skills. Remember last season? But, I doubt if he will get in coz the coach’s laptop had crashed a few months ago, and all data from last season was lost.
“Another sitting with the broadcasting folks has brought out some interesting facets of how things work out here. Being right here, I can tell you that the grounds are pretty sparsely filled, especially during the first inning. But the broadcasting team has been told to keep talking about the excitement and the fever at the ground. The cameramen have been instructed not to pan towards empty stands. And the producers keep telling the spectators to scream and shout when the cam pans to them.
“I don’t know what you guys sense on TV, but watching it from here, the so-called ‘excitement’ and ‘energy’ seem even faker than this blog,” his Saturday post, after painful attempts at SMS posting, says.
It will be interesting to see how much further this goes and what it does for player forums and other internet interactions and publicity-driven blogs. The model, if understood and packaged intelligently, is almost infallible. It’s entertaining. Does it matter if its authenticity is in question?
Contents Daily Sports The Hindu Business Line Frontline Publications eBooks Images
Copyright © 2009 Sportstar
Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of Sportstar.