The India vs South Africa game in the Cricket World Cup 2023 was a very important game. From the context of both teams – as they were top 2 in the points table; and also from the context of the tournament: they are likely to meet again, perhaps in the final.
However, most of the build-up to the IND vs SA game on Star Sports, the official broadcaster of the Cricket World Cup, surrounded around one man: Virat Kohli, who celebrated his 35th birthday. And it’s unlikely that not by chance that the IND vs SA match coincided with Virat Kohli’s birthday. Similar to how Mumbai Indians used to get matches in the IPL on Sachin Tendulkar’s birthday, 24th April, when he played in the IPL.
Cricket World Cup: Why are fans unhappy and angry at Star Sports?
Too much emphasis on just one player: Kohli
Star Sports is getting a lot of flak, criticism, and trolling from fans because of their overemphasis on one man: Virat Kohli. Star Sports doesn’t seem like a Cricket World Cup broadcaster, but more of a hyping machine for Virat Kohli.
Not that Kohli has asked any of it; in fact, Kohli is someone who never asks for any limelight: it has been learned that the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) had planned for an extravagant celebration of Kohli’s birthday by distributing over 50,000 Kohli face masks for fans in Eden Gardens and cut a large cake, but then later canceled all of it.
It is also for a fact that Star Sports won’t be broadcasting much of the cricket in the coming years: they have lost the rights for the IPL and Indian international men’s home season for five years. So they have double-downed on their content on the face of their channel: Virat Kohli. So much that the build-up to the IND vs SA took a backseat as almost everything on their channels is rolled into the Kohli mold. At some point, even the ex-cricketers, who are there for their experience-based analysis of the game and all cricketers, might get a bit irritated and tired.
Lack of analysis of the match and other teams
Sure, Kohli is the KING. The most followed and perhaps most influential cricketer in the world. But as broadcasters, Star Sports’ duty must be to bring the best coverage of analysis of the matches of all teams and players, and not just one specific individual, for the fans.
The show ‘The Pavilion’ of the Pakistani news channel ‘A Sports’ has been getting a lot of praise from the fans on social media after a video of Shoabi Malik breaking down the technical aspects of Babar Azam and Virat Kohli’s batting, or struggles, against spinners went viral. Fans praised Malik and A Sports for their impressive technical and cricketing knowledge, something which the ex-cricketers on Star Sports could also share. But ‘A Sports’ is doing what fans expect from Star Sports despite having just a fraction of the money that Star Sports has.
Ignoring other performers
The over glorification of one man is also is very disrespectful to other Indian players. Rohit Sharma is the captain; Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have been India’s best bowlers in the tournament; Ravindra Jadeja has twice been robbed off the Man of the Match award; KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer have been the unsung heroes; Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, and Suryakumar Yadav are yet to even peak in the tournament, while Mohammed Siraj is bringing as much energy on the field as Kohli. And yet, there is very little mention of these players compared to the KING.