The newspapers are running columns and pages of it. The news channels are devoting tens of minutes (and millions of rupees) to assemble the stars. The corporates are unleashing their merchandise and deals to time with the opening, to recreate the spirit of 1983. But is anybody really interested in the 2011 World Cup?
Are you interested in the World Cup? Does it excite you one bit?
The Test match batsman Rahul Dravid says that although the tournament begins on February 19, it gets serious only a month or more later when the knockout stage begins. In other words, much of what precedes it is bunk. The veteran cricket writer Suresh Menon writes: “I am not getting a sense of any buzz…. I wonder if there is actually fan fatigue.”
“Last week, I travelled through Uttar Pradesh which has sent a number of cricketers to the national team. I found little enthusiasm about the event among the locals and spotted no billboards or fan hoardings of cricket stars.The electronics shop owner in my Delhi suburb says there has been no significant surge in TV sales – typically fans migrate to bigger, wide-screen sets before such a major sporting event – despite a high-definition telecast of the event for the first time.”
So, seriously, has the World Cup lost its charm? Is it logout-shutdown-exit for the 50-over format against its 20-over cousin? Or will “Cup Fever”, the usual cliche of headline writers, catch on when, to use the cliche of commentators, “the first ball is bowled”?