No one can deny that cricket is among the most popular sports in the world, sharing the top position with other sports like football and basketball. But even if it is one of the most popular games, it remains a sport confined to the geographic boundaries of the Commonwealth countries.
As a sport, cricket involves pretty much one third of the earth’s total population. Nearly 2.5 billion people follow cricket, watch cricket games or even bet on cricket matches on the numerous markets offered by an extensive list of online bookmakers in Australia, as well as in other cricket nations.
But the problem is that while it concerns such a big part of the world it remains largely unknown to the remaining planet. This happens because we are talking about really big nations involved -summing up to a big share of the global population – but not the entire globe.
The ICC is desperate to take cricket worldwide and this is only natural considering the implications of a game becoming global. Much more revenues, much more profits, far greater viewership, advancement of teams, insanely wider pool of cricket talent and the list can go on and on, but it is not what we are here for.
Many cricket fans, including many executives of the ICC, have high hopes for cricket getting global through its ‘footbalization’. Footbalization, in that sense, is the process of adopting some aspects of the organization or in the way that the game is played from the one truly global sport, football.
While, “footbalization” is not a formal or any sort of official term, it is often used by those who want to describe how cricket is getting its hands on some things that are fundamental to football.
The growth of Twenty20 cricket is a sign that the sport is going down the road of football. Ever since the first Twenty20 match between English countries back in 2003 and the subsequent development of international Twenty20 competitions, this format has actually become very popular among fans.
In fact, this format has come to satisfy those who have been put off by the long, extensive cricket games, whose duration is often exhaustive. Test cricket matches are settled in a five-day format and they usually last for approximately seven and a half hours. That’s too much for one day and just think that it goes on for five days!
The newest T20 matches are shorter versions that can go on for around 3 hours… that’s much more condensed and much more capable of maintaining the interest of fans and viewers.
The development of the T20 format has given rise to the growth of leagues in cricket. While in its traditional form, cricket is international, the creation of leagues has given way to national competitions getting to the front stage. And as league-based cricket is gaining popularity, so does cricket as an entire sport!
The growing power of league-based cricket is manifested in two critical aspects becoming more and more apparent today.
The first one is that while traditionally, top cricket players were largely kept and reserved by their national teams and were only released for domestic matches, according to ‘will’, they are now largely preoccupied with their domestic duties.
Be it because leagues are giving a lot of money or because leagues are gaining widespread attention and they bring in much more pleasure, fame and recognition, the truth is that players now give much more emphasis on their clubs compared to their national teams.
And just like it happens with football, where leagues are the dominant competitions and are always in the spotlight, cricket is embarking on a new era that appears to borrow many things from the truly global sport.
The second one is that since the league-based format emphasizes clubs over national teams, franchised leagues are now everywhere -where cricket is played- and they are threatening the calendar of international cricket.
Unlike football where the national teams play only for major championships like the World Cup or other European competitions, cricket’s national teams are central to the sport. But with franchised successful leagues like the Indian Premier League, don’t leave much room for international cricket.
Well, this may be actually hampering international cricket, but it is actually in favor of making cricket a global game. A game that people will want to watch no matter whether they live in a country where cricket is played, that people will want to bet on with Australian bookmakers or any other bookies online for that matter and a game that people will follow, especially as it will become more and more interesting.