When it comes to the game of cricket in the Indian context, there are many interesting or rather crazy facts which come before us. Such as:
- It is the most watched sport on Television in India.
- The stadiums are packed with fans to watch live cricket game
- With the advent of internet now, there would be a large number of fans watching cricket live streaming on their mobile phones
- Cricket fans go crazy when there are IPL matches, where not only the Indian players are playing the game but international players are bought at auction at exorbitant prices
- Once in 4 years, the whole nation experiences what is called World Cup Fever.
- Whenever there is match with Pakistan, it becomes a matter of nation’s prestige
- Even the strangers become pals – unhesitatingly asking and answering each other – What is the score? Who is batting?
- Cricketers are top celebrities, even the Bollywood super stars want to be seen and sharing the space with cricketers.
- To many Indians some cricketers are like God – such as Sachin Tendulkar
- In India, if someone is a good player then he has an almost instant claim to Name, Fame, enormous earnings. Not only that he would soon be endorsing couple of products ranging from Water Purifiers to Fans to Mobile Phones and even Shampoos and soaps.
Cricket in other Countries
This is in sharp contrast to global facts and trends. Cricket until recently was a sport popular in Common Wealth countries. Therefore, less than a dozen countries had national or international level cricket teams. This included England, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa. Of course, in the recent years Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Kenya and Canada have also entered the world of international cricket.
Out of these, India and perhaps Pakistan are the only countries where cricket rules the hearts of almost every countryman. Surprisingly, India’s national game is hockey where it has been showing dismal performance on the international levels, except recently when India won gold in Asian Games at Korea (2014).
Popularity of Cricket in India
Most Indians do not actually play Cricket. Once a child comes out of school or college, he would not know where his bat and the rest of the cricket kit are? Even those adults who are passionate about sports and serious about fitness are seen to be playing tennis, squash, golf, badminton and for they may take to swimming, yoga, jogging, body building etc.
At the most some large corporate houses in public and private sectors may have their cricket teams.
The action of Cricket is mostly confined to watching it live on TV in the living room or now anywhere on mobile through live streaming.
This brings us back to the question…
Why Indians are so Crazy about Cricket?
1. Historical Reasons
The game of cricket is part of British legacy which India has revered as the game of Kings. It is also referred to as the Gentlemen’s game. First the royal families adopted this game. Then it became popular with the elite and wannabe elite so that they could hobnob with the royalty and the British. After that it percolated down and became popular with the masses.
Cutting the long story short, the strong push to the popularity was received in 1983 when Kapil Dev and his boys won the world cup. The introduction of color TV transmission during 1980 Asian games, made the game further popular. Now the masses found an alternative to the transistor radios for running cricket commentary and live score. ( India again won Cricket World Cup in 2011 and are the current champions).
This was the one of the strongest factors responsible for making cricket so popular. The game of cricket, its popularity and the glam associated with it never looked back again.
Again in 1985 India won the Kerry Packer/Channel Nine produced World Championships. The series was telecast live. The masses went hysterical watched in amazement. The cheered at every shot or their hearts sank at every deadly delivery to Indian cricketers who were seen wearing colored clothing, playing at night under floodlights!
After some time came the one day international matches, followed by Twenty20 cricket, (abbreviated to T20 matches).
It was the beginning of era of cricket as entertainment.
2. Perceived Road to Success
Cricket players are rock stars in India. They have everything going for themselves – fame, money, position, awards and recognition. Over a period of time, the doors to acting in films or centre stage politics also open for them. Caste, creed, color, education has no relevance here. Hence even poor to poorest of the child wants to have a claim to instant success.
What the average child finds interesting is that for once he does not have to study hard and sit in the highly competitive examination. His young impressionable mind thinks that all he has to do is to score good runs ( like Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar etc.) or bowl well like Ishant Sharma, Harbhajan Singh or also be a good fielder and wicket keeper so that he can become a good all-rounder ( like M S Dhoni, Kapil Dev, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina)
With so many perks who would not be tempted to give it a try. After all there is no entry barrier – or so it seems, therefore, why not take the chance.
3. Peaceful and non violent substitute of war with Pakistan
Every patriotic citizen would love to see his country at the top of every field – whether technology or economy or even war. The animosity between India and Pakistan is something which started with the birth of two nations in 1947. Even the wars of 1965, 1971 and Kargil has not settled the issues. Thus it is the match between the teams of two countries which gives a vicarious pleasure of winning one against the other.
4. Game in which India performs better than other games
Over the years, at the international sports, it is mostly Cricket which has done proud. Of course, in the recent past India has done well Athletics, Sports, Boxing, Weight lifting but these are mostly individual events.
If in a country of 1.25 billion people, Cricket is the only sport then the country tends to love it, adore it and respect it so passionately.
5. Commercial Interests of Advertisers
With millions of people watching cricket like crazy, how can the advertiser miss the golden opportunity. After every over there is short break which gives the Television Channels and Radio to advertise a variety of products. They know that the masses are glued to their Television and Radio sets for watching cricket live and live cricket score. Where else will they get such an attentive audience?
So much so now it is on field advertising in the form of banners followed by display of logos on the uniforms of the cricketers. Even the accessories like helmet, bat and gloves have not been spared – every inch of available space is used to display the name of the advertiser.
With so much at stake, the craze for cricket will have to be maintained at any cost.
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