T-20 & Women

Cricket has some surprising new cheerleaders.

Okay quick: what is the one thing women – young, middle-aged, old – hate most? The cricket season! A time when long-drawn, (boring?) 5-day test matches or a 1-day ODI completely amputates their man (boyfriend/lover/husband) from them as no woman can. No conversation or engagement of any kind is possible while the match is on. Even sex is passed by (“Not now, Babe. Dhoni is batting!”) zonking the woman beyond anything.

Women have been known to get together, form groups and plan elaborate programs and activities for the days/weeks/months when their crazed men are glued to the screen. “What on earth do they see in these corny, stupid cricket matches, pata nahin! So dull! Haan, some of the guys are cute … Yuvi, Dhoni … but that’s it.”

Overnight, all that’s changed. T-20 has suddenly transformed these bored, anti-cricket watchers into an excited and involved lot, going scream-for-scream with the guys. “Man, T-20 certainly has clean bowled the babes, boss,” admits a surprised 24 year old IT guy.

Fact not fiction. According to a TAM study, women comprised a healthy 36 percent of IPL’s viewership! Adwalas, quick to catch – and latch – on, immediately got into the act and slipped in loads of beauty-cosmetic products and jewelry ads during the games.


What made these females transition from ugh to wow? Did they have a dream, a la Martin Luther King? Did they suddenly realize that the old adage of if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, made total sense? Did they feel that they had wrongly bad mouthed this glorious gentleman’s game and it was time to dig in and understand the sport that consumed their men folk?


It’s really the explosive, seductive and smart blend of glamor, entertainment and showbiz that really had them hooked. Also the fact that this form of “Cabaret Cricket” is short n’ sweet and doesn’t eat into their time like crazy, makes it more palatable.

“Ooooh, I loved the IPL matches! Hai, SRK was really hot… and my god, how he motivated his team and got the whole of Eden Gardens in Kolkata on fire! It was so cool to see his entire gang of glam supporters cheering away lustily. Yaar, maza aagaya!” says Mini Sen, a first-year student at a Delhi college. Her best friend, Vitusha Garg agrees. “I am not such a crazy fan of SRK, but I adore Preity Zinta. I loved the way she was boosting her team … and those embraces with those hunks, especially Yuvi … cool cricket – now join me and my dad. It’s like a big tamasha with fours and sixes being slammed at regular intervals. Bharpoor entertainment for 3 hours!”

T-20 offers new opportunities for “bonding” among married couples whose lives have fallen into a dull and routine rut. The new form of entertainment is now a “fun” carnival to be enjoyed over a cup of tea. As it’s easy to follow with no technicalities, nuances or subtleties, women are not “challenged” and not under pressure to put on a pretense of “understanding” the game, because there is nothing to understand!

T-20 in that sense is truly a spectator sport. Also, many women seem to have broken through the impenetrable fence guys build when watching a match. Earlier it was principally a male thing; guys would meticulously plan out the whole ritual of drinks, snacks, location and venue with wives and girlfriends only starring to provide refreshments. They were not welcome to join the gang because, as one irritated soul explained, “they were clueless and uninterested, asked the most idiotic and irrelevant question – ‘Is that mole on the bowler’s right cheek real?’ – and if they were in a relationship, constantly wanting to cuddle up and touch their guy, go coochey-coo and unfailingly sulk or burst into tears with you don’t love me, if ignored or begged to calm down! A damn nuisance!”

The TAM survey has changed all that, forever. Today’s women-audience appear more clued-in, savvy, engaged to the sport both in letter and spirit … and there seems to be less of either “that’s a goal isn’t it” or worse “See what I made for you for dinner darling? Close your eyes.” When there are 2 balls and 6 runs to win!  

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