Monday, April 27, 2009

Global Emergence of Cricket

Indian Premier League, a brain child of Lalit Modi, took its birth in India in 2008. After the resounding success in its first season, the expectations with season 2 were huge. Fanatic supporters of cricket in India wanted that the IPL be conducted in its homeland and enjoy the wonderful spectacle of superstars competing each other. Before the contest could be staged, the BCCI had to compete with the Government of India on another ground. In the wake of the General Elections, there were high doubts on whether the mega event would be conducted.

Needless to say, elections in any country are more imperative and chief task ahead of sporting event of any kind. Not ready to take chances with the terrorist, the Home Minister P.C Chidambaram debated with the BCCI on the timing of the expensive event. The Ministry was clear in its stance of not distributing the security or over working them. Diversion of security forces for party campaigning, political rallies, etc meant that the forces would either need to work overtime or there be a postponement of other events. With tones of sponsorship money involved and a franchise based tournament, the team owners and the administrators wanted to get on with the tournament. After a host of symposiums, the IPL administrators felt that the version 2 experiences should be realised outside India. With the thought of making tones of money, the England and the South African cricket boards wanted to capitalise on the moment, and did whatever it could to allure BCCI. Both nations felt that there are enough facilities available for the players and staff to work on and produce a block buster. Weather being one of the major concerns in London, South Africa got the deal. And Boy! What a fantastic reception it turned out to be.

Between India and South Africa, there is something beyond cricket. Their ties date back to the 19th century during the days of British rule. It was also India that hosted South Africa in 1992, when the troubled nation took a cricketing rebirth.
Starting with the parade and then the opening ceremony, it was heartening to watch how the general public embraced the event. Packed stadiums, cheering crowds supporting their choice of teams could have only made Lalit Modi and the BCCI happier.

I certainly feel that movement to South Africa has come as a boon to the game and to the event as a whole. In a globalising world, where sport competes with sport, cricket languishes far behind. Arguably the ICC hasn’t really done enough to spread the game to more nations. As a result, for a sport in existence for more than 100 years, have only 10 Test playing nations. What cricket can boast is of having 3 different versions of the same game. The third of the lot is glamorous of all and is slated to act as ICC’s response to football. Popularly speaking, cricket’s got a long way to go in comparison to football. But if the IPL reception in SA is anything to go by, I think cricket has well and truly arrived. IPL is now an assured success, in India and abroad. Its sustenance will only bolster the globalising aspect of the game.

Generation of funds is essential for survival of any sport. Since its induction, T20 has proved to be a money spinner than the traditional One day cricket. With the ODI’s getting more predictable, the ICC and the other cricket boards need to find ways to cut down on the number of ODI’s and compensate with T20’s. With utmost respect to tests, ODI’s and T20’s, it’s now time to look ahead and maintain a balance between the three. In a bilateral series, instead of playing 7 ODI’s and two Twenty20 games, it would be logical to have 3 ODI’s and 3 T20's. With the players complaining of fatigue and stacked calendars, this can come as respite. Going forward if the ICC intends to promote the game to the youth; it needs to keep the duration aspect in mind.

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