Evolution of Cricket. Will Cricket Attract More Fans in the Future ?
The game of Cricket enjoys its popularity in the world's second-most populous country (India), where over 800 million people (57% of India's population) watch this sport.
Evolution of Cricket in the 20th Century
The global governing body for cricket is the International Cricket Council (ICC). It was started in 1909 and started governing the game of Cricket from then.
When the game of Cricket started at the International level there was only unlimited overs format played and only a few matches in a year. A team will play only five matches per year on an average. Then, as years went on Limited overs format was introduced and it was played for 60 overs a side, with teams wearing a white jersey. It was at this time Cricket started attracting more fans. Then ICC decided to start conducting the World Cup, which is a tournament that will be held every 4 years. The first season of the World cup was played in 1975. As years went on and with the world cup happening every four years, people started watching cricket in large numbers.
ICC decided to further increase its audience and started to introduce colored jersey for teams. Colored jersey was worn by the international teams from the 1980s. But, it was only in the 1992 World Cup, all the participated teams wore the colored jersey.
Introduction of T20 Format
From 2000 all teams accepted to wear the colored jersey for all Limited overs matches. For, test cricket the ICC decided to follow the traditional white kits, and even now white kits are being worn in Test Cricket.
It was only in the 21st century, Cricket attracted a major portion of its fan base by introducing the Twenty-Twenty Format, where twenty overs will be played by each side. In 2007, the first World t20 tournament was held and from then its popularity started growing at a faster pace than before. Since this was a shorter format of the game, the teams reduced playing defensive Cricket shots and started playing attacking shots to score a massive total. Fans, who even didn't watch cricket started watching Cricket in large numbers.
The ICC decided to organize the World T20 tournament every two years and this is till now the second biggest event of Cricket, after the 50 - over World Cup.
Domestic T20 Leagues
Though Cricket attracted more fans after the introduction of the twenty-twenty format, a major reason of it to attract more than 2.5 billion fans worldwide is due to the introduction of the Domestic T20 Leagues in many nations. This attracted more fans as teams played with city names. People from that territory and nearby regions started supporting their team. Since, there were teams in the tournament all the major city names were chosen which attracted fans from almost the entire nation.
Indian Premier League
The Indian Premier League (IPL) was started in 2008 by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). IPL is also considered as the most successful Twenty-Twenty league in the world. It is among the top ten leagues in the world with more fans and attracting an average attendance of more than 50,000 fans per match. The players are chosen by conducting an auction, which occurs four months before the start of the IPL every year.
Players from around the world show interest in playing in this league. A total of 1112 players registered their names in the 2018 auction of the league. The reason for so many players registering for an auction is that no other league/national duty pays anywhere close to the IPL. For most players, money from the 7 weeks of IPL is more than their national team salary from the remaining 10 months.
The reason for paying the players high is because of the population of India. India is the second-most populous nation in the world, where over 800 million people watch the Indian Premier League. Because of this vast fan population, the Indian Premier League is getting profit even from the first season of the League till now. The Indian government also benefits from IPL as it earns a revenue of around USD 46,230,000 for the conduction of IPL from the BCCI.
The T10 league was introduced in 2017 in the United Arab Emirates, in which each side plays ten overs each. The league was launched to attract fans in the United Arab Emirates, As a surprise, the league also attracted fans from around the world. This league was introduced for making the game of Cricket more enjoyable by restricting the use of defensive shots and start playing attacking shots almost every ball a batsmen faces.
A target of more than 100 runs is posted by the batting team in most of the T10matches. This is an emerging league in today's world, but it is till now unable to attract fans like the IPL, as the population of the people watching Cricket in the United Arab Emirates is very much less than that in India.
Future of the Game
The future of Cricket looks somewhat similar to Football, as the game is sliding towards the club culture with more number of nations expected to get engaged because of the Twenty20 format. My expectation is that because of its developing club culture the game will see an exponential increase in the number of fans in the coming years.