Final match played in England . . .
Yesterday saw an enthralling end to the final match of cricket’s inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) between India and New Zealand. The match, played in southern England, saw the New Zealanders beat the favoured Indian team in the last session of the match’s final day, an exciting end to a match that was competitive throughout and even boasted lengthy delays as heavy rain disrupted play. The WTC was delayed or cancelled several times in the past decade for both scheduling and financial reasons. Many cricket administrators see it as an unwelcome addition to an already-packed global cricket calendar consisting of international ‘tours’ in which one country plays several matches in another country and international tournaments.
A question of formats . . .
At the international level, cricket is played in three formats: five-day long matches (called Test cricket), one-day internationals (ODIs), and a three-hour version called twenty-twenty (T20) matches. Cricket’s first Test match was played in 1877 between England and Australia. The shorter duration ODIs came into being in the 1970s. They quickly proved to be a hit with spectators and organizers and garnered increased commercial appeal. The T20 version of the game was first introduced in the early 2000s, with the inaugural ICC World T20 being played in 2007. Since then, professional T20 tournaments have mushroomed globally, with the biggest and most commercially successful by far being the Indian Premier League (IPL).
India, the financial heart of world cricket . . .
Inaugurated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2007, the IPL has quickly become the world’s most valuable cricket league, and depending on the metrics, is Asia’s most valuable sports property. Such is its financial heft that the tournament attracts the world’s best players with salaries for the two-month tournament that dwarf sums offered by national associations to represent their national teams. Accordingly, the International Cricket Council has carved out a dedicated window in the international cricket schedule to allow players to participate in the IPL while not overlapping with their commitments to national teams. The BCCI now calls the shots in the cricket world, a testament to the scope and speed of growth of India’s global economic influence.