Commerce, Media and Cricket today
The 1970 were the decade in which cricket was transformed. It was a time when a traditional game evolved to fit a changing world. If 1970 was notable for the exclusion of South Africa from international cricket, 1971 was a landmark year because the first one day international was played between England and Australia in Melbourne. First world cup being successfully staged in 1975. In 1977, cricket celebrated its 100 years of test matches.
In 1977, cricket was changed forever, not by a player or cricket administrator, but by a business man. Kerry Packer, an Australian television tycoon saw the money making potential in cricket as a television sport, signed up fifty one of the world’s leading cricketers against the wishes of the national cricket boards and for about two years staged unofficial test and ODI under the name of World Cricket Series. While packer’s ‘circus’ as it was then described folded up after two years, the innovations he introduced during this time to make cricket more attractive. Coloured dress, protective helmets, field restrictions, cricket under lights, became a standard part of post Packer game. Idea of Packer selling television right to television companies introduced by all cricket boards. They became rich also the players by making commercials. Television coverage changed cricket. The technology of satellite television and the world wide reach of multi-national television companies created a global market for cricket. Matches in Sydney could now be watched in Surat. This simple fact shifted the balance of power in cricket. Since India had the largest viewership for the game amongst the cricket playing nations and the largest market in the cricketing world, the game’s centre of gravity shifted to South Asia. This shift was symbolized by the shifting of ICC headquarters from London to tax free Dubai.
A more important sign that the centre of gravity in cricket has shifted away from the old, Anglo Australian axis is that innovations in cricket technique in recent years have mainly come from the practice of sub continental teams in countries like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Doosra and reverse swing both were developed in Pakistan.
One hundred and fifty years ago the first Indian cricketers, the Parsis, had to struggle to find an open space to play in. Today, the global marketplace has made Indian players the best paid, most famous cricketers in the game, men for whom world is a stage. The history that brought about this transformation was made by many smaller changes: the replacement of amateur by the paid professional, the triumph of the one day game as it overshadowed Test cricket in terms of prosperity, and the remarkable changes in global commerce and technology. In this chapter we have followed the spread of a colonial sport through its history, and try to understand how it adapted to a post-colonial world.
4. History and sport [ The Story of Cricket ]
Commerce, Media And Cricket Today
Advances in technology had a dramatic effect on the game of cricket. On-field, the concept of 'Third Umpire' was put in practice. A number of major decisions on field could be referred to him as he had the benefit of replays of every event from all possible angles. Stumps carried cameras; umpires could talk direct to the ground staff and others from their radios. Score-boards became more functional and informative.
Off-field, organization of matches became much more convenient with easy free flow of required information. With the advent of television, cricket became a marketable game which could generate huge revenues.
(i) Cricket boards became rich by selling television rights to television companies.
(ii) Television channels made money by selling television spots to companies who were happy to pay large sums of money to air commercials for their products to cricket's captive television audience.
(iii) Continuous television coverage made cricketers celebrities who, besides being paid better by their cricket boards, now made even larger sums of money by making commercials for a wide range of products, from types to colas, on television.
(iv) Television coverage expanded the audience for the game by beaming cricket into small towns and villages.
(v) It also broadened cricket's social base. Children who had never previously had the chance to watch international cricket because they lived outside the big cities, where top-level cricket was played, could now watch and learn by imitating their heroes.
(vi) The technology of satellite television and the world wide reach of multinational television companies created a global market for cricket.
Contribution of Kerry Packer in development of cricket :
Kerry Packer was an Australian television tycoon. He saw the money-making potential of cricket as a televised sport. He introduced 'World Series Cricket'. He signed up fifty-one of the world's leading cricketers against the wishes of the national cricket boards and for about two years staged unofficial Tests and One-Day internationals. The innovations he introduced during this time to make cricket more attractive to television audiences endured and changed the nature of the game. Coloured dress, protective helmets, field restrictions, cricket under lights, became a standard part of the post-Packer game. Crucially, Packer drove home the lesson that cricket was a marketable game, which could generate huge revenues.
The centre of gravity in cricket has shifted away from the old:
(i) A more important sign that the centre of gravity in cricket has shifted away from the old, Anglo-Australian axis is that innovations in cricket technique in recent years have mainly come from the practice of sub-continental teams in countries like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
(ii) Pakistan has pioneered two great advances in bowling: the doosra and the 'reverse swing'.
(iii) Initially, both innovations were greeted with great suspicion by countries like Britain and Australia which saw them as an underhanded, illegal bending of the laws of cricket.
(iv) In time, it came to be accepted that the laws of cricket could not continue to be framed for British or Australian conditions of play, and they became part of the technique of all bowlers, everywhere in the world.
(v) Today, the global marketplace has made Indian players the best-paid, most famous cricketers in the game, men for whom the world is a stage.