Fourth best and darned proud of it

(This week it was my regular Saturday col for The Age that didn’t appear to be made available via their website. So for those who didn’t grab the paper for whatever reason, and are now presumably unlikely to, here she blows.)

DEVIL’S ADVOCATE – 15th Dec 2012

Adam Gilchrist this week predicted the more or less imminent death of the traditional one day international form of cricket.

This utterance was treated as something startling and new in the media, possibly for the sake of argument, as the sentiment did tend to fall very much into line with those expressed by pundits since crowds started turning up in numbers to the Twenty20 format games, some years back.

However, Cricket Australia is not necessarily a body to trifle with vaguely contemporary notions – eg. this week it apparently became keenly aware that exotic betting on certain outcomes may compromise the integrity of the game, which was a snappy new idea, apparently – and it has responded with stance squared if not a mindset to match.

Barked CA spokesperson Peter Young, “The [one day cricket] World Cup is the world’s fourth biggest sporting event, it’s got a viewing audience of a billion people.”

On a tangential and possibly unworthy note, one wonders whether some cricket administrators spout that line automatically at random moments, perhaps provoked by certain sounds, such as a doorbell, or a breakfast table request to pass the Coco Pops.

More importantly, it’s hilarious. Here are some world sporting events: the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics, the real, i.e. soccer, World Cup, and “Euro”, the artist formerly known as the European Nations (soccer) championship. Take ’em in whatever order you like, anyway you care to slice it and on a worldwide basis ODI cricket’s tournament of tournaments is already out of the fourth-place money.

That’s before you start the serious head-scratching about what constitutes a “world sporting event”, because if the FA Cup final, UEFA Champions League final, Super Bowl, and no doubt quite a few others qualify, the cricket World Cup is not only out of fourth place, but arguably dancing for pennies thrown into a hat outside the debating arena.

One may also be forgiven a wry Gary Coleman-like facial expression and the traditional expostulation “What you talkin’ bout, Willis?” when sports admin types start boldly ringing in the “billions” of viewers.

The rugby World Cup folk used to pull this reign. Some of us got suspicious when the ever-increasing claimed figures started to overtake the actual world population.

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