The sport of cricket has deep English origins that date to the Tudor era. Cricket went only as far as British colonialism would let it, or as they say, “the empire on which the sun never sets.” It is reasonable to argue that the bat-and-ball game has not only endured but also flourished after colonization. The topic at hand, however, is cricket’s claim to be the second-most popular sport in the world after football, a sport that has unquestionably carved itself a place at the top. The argument for cricket being the second most popular sport in the world is strong; however, there are some unproven assertions.
The south Asian population, which makes up a fifth of the world’s population, is primarily responsible for the commotion and intensity that cricket attracts. In addition to the amazing viewership from Pakistan, England, Australia, and other nations, India, where cricket is almost like a pseudoreligion, has a population of over a billion people, making it the second most-watched country in the world. This phenomenon reduces the battle for second place between basketball and cricket. It’s possible that this effectively factors in additional factors like cricket odds, money, and worldwide appeal.
In defence of basketball, the sport is expanding from its native America to become a worldwide one. Cricket lacks the professional leagues that the game of baseball has, all headquartered in the US. Cricket professional leagues are primarily restricted to the regions where the sport has a sizable fan base. Cricket’s chances of expanding are hampered by its ignorance of the majority of North and South America. Conversely, basketball is fast expanding because it appeals to the nation’s obsession with sports in China, the Philippines, and Australia.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is introducing dynamism to the game to stay ahead of the curve. The ICC devised limited-overs cricket as the cumbersome Test format of cricket failed to draw spectators. But as the twenty-first century got underway, the restricted overs format also started to lose its allure. It then made way for the Twenty20 format, which turned out to be cricket’s magic bullet.
Growth and Outlook
The Twenty20 format gave the game the intensity and vigour that was previously lacking. As a result of the new model, lucrative domestic leagues like the Indian Premier League (IPL) were created and are now successful businesses. Despite what it might appear, the IPL brand alone is worth more than $4 billion US. Similar to the IPL, there are a number of other leagues that generate large revenues.
Cricket’s rising popularity in Africa gives it an advantage over basketball outside of Asia and Europe. Many people in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and South Africa are devoted fans of the sport. Cricket’s popularity among the Caribbean Islands is another aspect that supports its argument. Given that crickets are found across most continents, it is reasonable to presume that there is an opportunity for expansion.
Most of the cricket’s devoted fans are from the third world, which is a significant barrier to the sport’s development. The third world has a long way to go before becoming as advanced as much of North America and Europe. In contrast to cricket, basketball and football owe a significant portion of their appeal to the internet. A significant portion of cricket fans isn’t up to speed on technology advancements, hindering the sport’s growth. Soon, this will change.
In terms of viewership, cricket wins over all other sports, financial considerations apart. In India and Pakistan, vacant streets are not unusual during intense cricket matches. Perhaps such dedication is what keeps the sport going strong. As long as that passion persists, cricket will continue to develop, whether the rest of the world does or not.