As far as lifestyle choices go, you don’t get many bigger dichotomies than the sport of cricket. In some countries, such as the US and Canada, the residents may have never heard of the game. In others, like India and Pakistan, it’s almost as important as religion and family.
There are opposites from around the globe, which leads to a simple question – why is cricket popular in some countries and not others?
The game is simple and only requires a few pieces of equipment. As a result, it isn’t exclusive. India is a prime example because many don’t have the resources of North Americans, yet the sport has exploded. Around 90% of the global audience is accounted for by the sub-continent, so it must be something else.
Where the regions differ is in their investment in infrastructure. In India, vast areas of cities and towns are dedicated to games of cricket, such as the pitches of Maidan in Mumbai. If there isn’t enough space, the sport is adapted to suit the surroundings. For example, in Pakistan, tennis balls are covered with tape to make an innings more exciting in an urban environment.
Of course, wealthier nations invest even more in infrastructure, particularly Australia and England. Therefore, potential superstars have the opportunity to work their way up the ranks. Those that don’t make it continue to follow the sport on TV.
Concentration of Power
The power of the respective boards is another factor to consider. Although several countries play cricket in some form professionally, only 12 nations have permanent One-Day International and Test status. That means they have the pull to not only perform well in tournaments but to host competitions as well.
India’s BBCI, for instance, has managed to lobby the ICC to let the Men in Blue welcome their rivals to their backyard in October when the T20 World Cup 2021 takes place. Not surprisingly, the home advantage makes India the strong 9/4 favourites in the cricket betting market. Indeed, of the non-permanent ODI countries in the betting, all four are the rank outsiders at 1000/1 and over.
By hosting tournaments and playing them simultaneously, the main cricket-playing nations cement their statuses at the top of the game.
Variations Break Home Markets
Cricket’s powers that be understand the need to reach out to global audiences, which is partly why the sport has been rebranded in recent years. T20 cricket is the biggest evolution of the game and has grown from strength to strength. However, the consumption figures are greater in places where the game is healthy.
Again, India is an excellent example because the Indian Premier League is now the highest-grossing T20 format in the world. With billions in revenue, everyone is following the IPL’s lead regarding creating their brands. In terms of money, influence, and participation numbers, the rise has been in areas where the demand is off the charts.
In essence, the structure of the sport appears to benefit the nations that invest in it the most. Until countries that aren’t cricket enthusiasts get on board, this probably won’t change any time soon.