Cricket is a game that had its origins in England. As the British Empire extended its suzerainty over territories across the world, cricket began to be played in the colonies of England too. Today, cricket is an international game that is played in some 16 nations across the globe. Cricket is commonly nicknamed a ‘gentleman’s game’ though initially, before cricket became popular, it was a game that was played predominantly by women and children in the country where it originated.
Many feel that the term ‘gentleman’s game’ is a misnomer for cricket. What with the Aussies getting racial and sledging non-white players and players, in general, hurling abuses at umpires, cricket is fast falling from its exalted pedestal of being a game only for polite and civilized gentlemen. But still, the label ‘gentleman’s game’ suits cricket better than it suits football, which, according to many, is the world’s most beloved ‘ruffians’ game’. (Football, of course, has never ever been called a ‘gentleman’s game’.) Besides, with more and more women choosing cricket as their career, it would be positively sexist to say that cricket is a ‘gentleman’s game’.
A Game that Unites
Cricket is more than a game. It is a great unifying force. When Indian and Pakistani players shake hands or slap each other’s backs during or just after a cricket match, the gestures are capable of bringing tears to the eyes of the hardest of hardliners and fundamentalists. When different nations started playing cricket with South Africa after South Africa publicly proclaimed its repudiation of the contemptible apartheid, a legalized practice of racial discrimination and ostracism carried out by the whites of South Africa against the blacks of the nation, it was a red-letter day in the history of cricket that bowled everyone over.
With the advent of the Indian Premier League (IPL), cricket has acquired altogether new dimensions. A single IPL team is a melting pot of cultures and mores with Indian, Australian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, English, South African, West Indian players playing in it along with players from other cricketing nations. Players who always played against each other and who were considered to be archrivals and opponents now play together for the same team, leaving behind their prejudices and dislikes. As barriers of language, race and culture vanish with camaraderie between newfound teammates, cricket gains a new and interesting face with every passing day.
It’s Not Cricket. Or is It?
It is still the same old cricket but it has definitely gone beyond cricket. The game has undergone a major facelift in the last few decades. Though five-day test matches are still revered, they are out of vogue, because they last for five days and tend to be boring. Most cricket maniacs look forward to One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in order to enjoy the highs and lows of the game in just one day. But ODIs too have lost their charm in the face of stiff competition from the Twenty20s (T20s). Cricket, it seems, is adapting itself to the times to cater to the needs of impatient, frenzied fans. Yes, you might be run out in the race to grab tickets, but modern-day cricket will certainly give you a run for your money, even if you watch the match on television.
Investing in Cricket
Cricket, currently, is thought to be a greenfield opportunity for businesspeople, a great investing ground that can yield great returns. Many genuine sports aficionados feel that cricket has become too commercial to remain a hearty game anymore. But many others feel that the ‘business’ of cricket is actually doing a lot of good to the game. Putting real money into cricket is actually helping to propagate cricket, they say. True. Look at some of the other games like hockey, polo, badminton, athletics, etc. of the Indian subcontinent. They are in a sorry state and are stagnating due to the dearth of finances.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) has turned the cricket field into a gold mine. Celebrities, actors, and business magnates are all queuing up to buy and sell players like curios at an auction, to sponsor teams and matches and to make big bucks. Tycoons are fighting desperately for the most big-ticket players, making their bids shockingly high, before the hammer comes banging down. The stakes are very high in cricket today. While winners are eulogized by their owners, losers are disowned and sold off quickly. Just like what happens in the commodities market!