Did this edition of the World Cup take you by storm? Me too!
A month or so ago, you probably did not have any idea that the World Cup was underway. The next time you took stock, India has won all their fixtures and are heading for the semi-finals. Suddenly, there is a hype in the air. The rest is history.
However, have you ever wondered how we reached this moment?
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game that originated in England in the 16th century. It has since become a popular sport played in many countries around the world. Over the centuries, cricket rules were established, and it eventually became a professional sport with organized competitions and international matches. However, cricket back then only spread to the regions colonised by the British Raj, these cricket ‘rules’ were more 'laws', and most other countries who joined the sport, did so to compete with England in a test of might, and this gave true birth to the five day 'Test Match' as we know it.
Contrary to popular belief and competing sports, cricket is an incredibly complicated and arduous game, which then spanned over five days!
It was only in the 1970s when the concept of the Cricket World Cup and the One-Day International (ODI - aptly named) was conceived that the countries took an interest in sending a team and participating in such events. Interestingly, the West Indies, then colonised by the British Raj, won the first two World Cups. India, won the third, while all three events were hosted in England. In a plot twist, the English Cricket Team did not feature prominently in a game invented, controlled and hosted.
The era of ODI continued for three decades. In the early 2000s, England, then a far cry from its former self, decided to revamp the game once again to meet the needs of a more impatient generation. They began a 20-over game, instead of a 50-over one, and called it the T20 league. This decision has been the one factor that completely revolutionised the game from a gentleman’s sport to a frenzy, attracting young fans, financial partners and sponsors. The T20 World Cup which was held soon after was the final evolution of a five-day competition against the British Raj, converted to a three-hour extravaganza. India, who was at first hesitant to participate, sent their junior team, who ended up, lifting the inaugural trophy.
In 2008, India decided to start a T20 league of their own calling it the Indian Premier League (IPL). Cricket, being deeply ingrained in the country's culture, made it an instant success for both spectators and investors. Indians got themselves a three-hour-long Bollywood movie to watch. Not only that, with Bollywood stars investing in teams and attending matches, it has been nothing short of the Hindi phrase - tamasha. Over the next decade, the T20 culture took India and the world by storm, attracting top international players as well as emerging talents from India. Today, every country has a T20 League of their own, but none has the sheer volume of viewership or the lucrative nature as the IPL.
With the ICC World Cup, the Champions League, the T20 World Cup, and the IPL, cricket has become a global sport for entertainment as well as revenue, from the once-five-day test match format against the British Raj. You could say, that there is a bit of cricket fatigue that has set in as well.
This brings me to this year’s World Cup, which though hyped in media, only garnered the viewership of a small fraction of the audience outside the host country. The fast-paced action of the T20 format over the past decade has left fans a little tired and confused.
The British gave birth to every form of cricket, but the Indians truly revolutionized it. Today, we are left with a mixed bag of emotions, teams and players and a cricketing future that can go in any direction.
Until next time,
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