The real ‘match ka mujrim’

On Y! Opinions, Amit Varma on the tendency on the part of the cricket media to craft ‘narratives’ out of whole cloth, and to never let facts get in the way of a good ‘story’. Read. Here’s the set up:

What is the job of a journalist? An idealistic reader would say that it is to report the news, to put the facts of the world on record. A jaded news editor would say, it is to tell stories, ideally sensationalistic ones, that capture the attention of the reader. These stories are often a spin on the truth; and sometimes they may be outright false. A reporter’s brief is often to turn banal facts into gripping drama — and if there is no easy story to be had, then to manufacture one.

We see this in the way sports is covered in India. You might think that a sporting encounter is dramatic by itself, and does not need embellishment or hyperbole. But news editors seem to believe that readers not only want dramatic narratives, they want those narratives to be simple. (I wrote about this in the inaugural Viewfinder as well.) A cricket match may be decided by a number of complex factors, and the loser most often does not play badly, but simply gets outplayed by a better team. But this complexity does not make for a good story.

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16 thoughts on “The real ‘match ka mujrim’

  1. Yes… I agree with the others. This was a hopelessly poor article, on par with the mf hussain garbage he wrote sometiem back.

    Sadder to think a high-caliber writer like prem promoting his writing because he is also from yahoo 🙂

  2. I wouldn’t be so harsh as to call Amit Varma a “lazy analyst”, but I will admit that I have been a trifle disappointed by his articles. Perhaps, high expectations because of lovely pieces like http://www.cricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/342143.html set me up to be disappointed sometime. I have come to expect him to pick a central point and work towards establishing it, as he does so beautifully in the linked article. For this reason, I found the last article particularly disappointing – it started off well and I got the impression that the theme was going to be journalism. But, the article wandered off into allied subjects, losing momentum in the process and I lost track of the point Amit was trying to make. We all have our off days and I feel we shouldn’t be overly critical of someone who has consistently turned out brilliant pieces. Here’s to Amit turning it on in the next post.

  3. Dear Prem
    Sorry for digressing-i just need your opinion about the fatwas issued by Deoband-you are quick to latch on to any edicts of ShivSena but your silence on the fatwas of the mullahs is deafening-I have read countless articles about you criticizing anything concerning ShivSena but nothing about the Deoband’s fatwas.Why dont u apply the same yardstick to both when they are equally bad?

    • The Deoband fatwa was — no, is — flat out ridiculous. That’s point one.

      That said, I wouldn’t read too much into what appears on this blog and what does not, in terms of my attitudes. Posting is more a function of time, and mind space. For instance, I did several posts on IPL games, but not a single one on any of the World Cup games. Does that suggest that I appreciate IPL but not the WC? The reverse, in fact. And the reason for that is, while the WC was on [and the Deoband fatwa appeared during that same period] I was in the midst of some frenetic traveling for official reasons, to Delhi, and travel in the other direction, south, because of an ailing mother.

      I have thoughts about a lot of things that happen around me every day, but I do not, every day, have time to gather those thoughts into halfway intelligent posts. I post when I can, and often things I am interested in or concerned about slip through the cracks because I also have a 12-14 hour work day, and it is not exactly a cakewalk.

      So it is equally possible that something related to the Shiv Sena will come up, and I will be silent. Which is not an endorsement.

      • Deoband is a sort of *funnily* ridiculous. Has any muslim woman stopped working after the fatwa? Thats the seriousness Deoband attracts.

        Shiv Sena, on the other hand, is *seriously* ridiculous. There are people who listen to the crap from their leaders.

  4. Jayawardene ends the argument in Varma’s favour.

    He’s also right about success breeding enemies, as the comments here indicate!

    • Jaya hardly played in the first half of IPL. He came in as a injury replacement, did well and then went on to play. Get your facts right.

  5. Yeah, lazy article from verma. That’s not a surprise, though to me. Over-rated blogger. Good job exposing his poor research, guys.

  6. Amit misses the basic point that the foreign players played only a portion of the IPL; Pieterson missed half the games; he came late, was injured in between, and was dropped; same with Nannes, he was out for more than half the games Delhi played; Hussey played 3 matches for chennai; where he did badly, the best bowlers of the tournament Smith, Langeveldt, Ajmal, Tait Swann,Sidebottom and even Nehra missed most of the IPL; Bowlers like Zaheer, Malinga who played every match were tired and undoubtedly performance suffered; so to call people who attribute some blame for the defeat to the IPL as lazy analysts is wrong; I would say Varma’s research for the article was superficial and lazy…

    • May be Amit Varma wanted to make a point about “lazy analysts” by ironically showing himself being as a lazy analyst:-))

      This actually goes to an older discussion- of holding oneself accountable for own words, and not hiding behind “that was just an opinion,mate” argument.

    • Well. The best batsmen of the World Cup was Jayawardene and he played all IPL matches. What do you think about that ?

      • He actually PLAYED only in the second half. Before that, he was spending more time in the dugout than in the crease:-)

  7. This line in the column “But will all the franchise owners, in the long run, find greater fools? ” I’m reminded of a line in the movie andaz apna apna where it says something like this “in this country if you are searching for a fool, you will find a thousand” 🙂

  8. can agree with the most parts..especially the Bcci being the biggest culprit. like the previous poster said..u cant just blindly say that other english/aussie stars played in IPL as well and they didnt look tired. Did Hussey play all matches for CSK, if so..how many overs did he face compared to Dhoni? Pietersen came in half way..and did he have the same responsibility as gambhir/sehwag?

    sehwag did the right thing opting out, zaheer/gambhir/bhaji should have as well.

  9. But the comment questioning how come IPL, travelling, and night parties affected only the Indians and not the foreign players comes as a bit ignorant one from Verma. So he didn’t have to follow how many matches the English stars or Oz stars played in IPL? He didn’t have to take their previous engagements in accounts and pounce only on saying that they also played in IPL, even if it were just for 2-3 matches??

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