It may come as a shock to most of the people who are not from South Asia that cricket is one of the most-watched sports in the world, garnering over billion views on average. The cricket world cup 2019, was viewed by 2.6 Billion people in the world. The world’s second-largest stadium, as per capacity, is a cricket stadium in the state of Gujarat, India.
There was a time when cricket, hockey, and football enjoyed the same popularity in India, but it gradually changed.
REASONS OF CRICKET’S POPULARITY:
Cricket started dominating the Indian market, back in the year 1982 when Indira Gandhi’s government mobilized new phone lines for better communication and color television for the games. At that time TV was a symbol of status, people would crowd around a single TV mostly in the village areas, which made it popular among the local people.
The Indian Cricket Team got more visibility and more coverage through the live telecast. While the administration of other sports didn’t bother to telecast their matches on TV, they stuck to the radio for quite long. In 1985 Indian Team won the World Championship of Cricket, and the popularity of game increased more.
- The liberalization of the Indian economy was initiated in 1991, Jagmohan Dalmiya the CAB president at that time realized this golden opportunity, and decided that people would have to bid for the right to telecast Indian matches.
- As part of the Diamond Jubilee of the Cricket Association of Bengal, they organized a pentangular Hero Cup in 1993. It was the first Indian tournament broadcast to world standards with world-class commentators.
- BCCI started setting high benchmarks for the broadcast rights, which in turn increased team sponsorship rights because of higher visibility and audience range.
Other factors that worked in favor of this sports was the easy accessibility and simplicity of the game. The game could be played easily in open fields or streets among smaller or larger groups. It soon became a craze among the locals as many small-small tournaments started in the remotest parts of India. More and more people aspired to become cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, and Sachin Tendulkar.
The BCCI was not a government body and did not depend on the government for any grants but, BCCI had a great administration and a great visionary, like Jagmohan Dalmiya, who saw the opportunity and grabbed it.
While Hockey and Football were under the Sports Authority of India and had all the government support, but still couldn’t figure out things at the earlier stage.
The sport has been gaining popularity in Ireland recently as per a report by The New York Times