Cricket owes a lot to Dalmiya and Packer

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Two gutsy guys, Jagmohan Dalmia, in India, and Kerry Packer, in Australia, had the spunk to think out of the box. They were not afraid of controversies and legal hassles. The result was a greater popularity of Cricket and more money for this game. Here’s an analysis by Kalpita.

Cricket is a game that started in England. But now, India is its universal flag-bearer. The craze for the game has just grown and grown in the country.

That type of fan following has translated into big money for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Now, the situation is such that everyone looks towards India for the moolah. A bilateral series with India can fill the coffers of any cricket board worldwide.

For a country that provides 70 per cent of money in world cricket, the transformation hasn’t come overnight. The television has had a big role in it.

Advertisers line up when India is playing at home or away. Even the International Cricket Council (ICC) is quite lenient when it comes to giving the hosting rights of big events. The recent case is the ICC T20 World Cup, which India will host next month.

For both ICC and BCCI it’s a win-win situation if India is involved.

If one man has to be given credit for this turnaround of BCCI, it has to be the redoubtable Jagmohan Dalmiya, fondly called Jaggu Dada.

Jaggu Dada, the coal trader from Kolkata, had the foresight and business acumen to turn BCCI into a profit-making organization, way back in the 1990s.

First, he sold the television rights to private companies. And that proved the game-changer as private television companies saw the type of money that could be made by telecasting cricket. The bids kept getting costlier series by series and the BCCI grew from strength to strength.

It wasn’t easy for Dalmiya and his close aide IS Bindra. They had to bypass the rights of the national broadcaster Doordarshan. The duo had to wade through litigations and court cases to free the game from the clutches of a non-performing Doordarshan.

The success took Dalmiya, a long-time Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president, to the post of ICC chief. There also he changed the money matrix, grooming ICC into a profit-making institution.

Packer Circus

If Dalmiya is seen as game changer in India, the credit of making the game popular worldwide goes to the controversial Kerry Packer of Australia.

He was the man who gave colour to cricket. His long-standing battles with the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) are folklore now. His desire to make money by telecasting cricket on his Nine Network made him a household name in Australia.

Outside Australia, Packer was best known for founding the World Series Cricket. In 1977, the Nine Network cricket rights deal led to a confrontation with the cricket authorities, as top players from several countries rushed to join him at the expense of their international sides.

Packer’s aim was to get broadcasting rights for Australian cricket, and he was largely successful. In the 1970s, the global cricket establishment fiercely opposed Packer in the courts.

He was pioneer of day-night matches, and hosting matches with players wearing coloured clothes. It was a sacrilege in the 1970s, when cricket couldn’t see anything except white.

His channel gave terms like run-rate and asking rate that has turned one-day cricket easy to follow.

It has meant that now even our mothers and grandmothers can follow the game. Recently, a one-day cricket match was on. My mother came out of the kitchen with a ladle in her hand. She asked me about the required run rate. Much to our pleasant surprise, she instantly gave her verdict about the result of the match and rushed back to her job in the kitchen.

This is the type of popularity and reach the game has got with the advent of Kerry Packer into cricket.

Pix from Net

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