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Commercialisation of Cricket

In 1971, the first One Day International was played between England and Australia in Melbourne. The enormous popularity of this shortened version of the game led to the first World Cup being staged in 1975. In 1977, the game changed forever, as a game of businessman.
Kerry Packer, an Australian television tycoon who saw the money-making potential of cricket as a televised sport, signed up fifty-one of the world’s leading cricketers against the wishes of the national cricket boards. It was conducted under the name of ‘World Series Cricket’. It was also described as Packer’s ‘Circus’, which became an innovation in cricket and became more attractive to television audiences which changed the nature of the game itself.

Coloured dress, protective helmets, field restrictions, cricket under lights, became standard part of the post Packer game. Cricket boards became rich by selling television rights to television companies. Television channels made money by televising the matches to companies who were happy to pay large sums of money to air commercials for their products to cricket’s captive television audience. The cricketers were also paid better.

elevision broadened cricket’s social base. Cricket reached through this media to the rural areas. Multinational television companies created a global market for cricket. Cricket became globalised. Since India had the largest viewership for the game and the largest market in the cricketing world, the game’s centre of gravity shifted to South Asia. The headquarters of the ICC was shifted from London to tax-free Dubai.

The sub-continental teams such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka introduced innovations in cricket technique. Pakistan has pioneered two great advances in bowling: the doosra and the ‘reverse swing.’ Today, the global market place has made Indian players the best-paid, most famous cricketers in the game.

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