Dougie Marillier, now almost 40, was once a Zimbabwean batsman who had played a completely unorthodox shot against GlennMcGrath and stunned the world champions. A few years later Zaheer Khan saw this unorthodox shot in action as the ball raced away to the boundary and the Men in Blue were handed an unlikely defeat. The Marillier shot, as it was called, was hardly recognised, but a very similar shot named Dilscoop is a visual treat to cricket enthusiasts. Marillier was forced to take up real estate to make ends meet, Dilshan went on to become an amazing legend of the game.
So why is it that we haven’t heard of Chirag Suri, an Indian origin UAE cricketer who has, in fact, been part of the Gujarat Lions Franchise in the 2017 edition. Sheridan Raynor of Bermuda did nothing wrong, except for the fact that he was born in Bermuda. One cannot but marvel as to how the captain of the Indian Cricket Teams signs a stupefying 9-digit figure for a promotion campaign while several countries’ Cricket Boards enjoy a mere shadow of the colossally huge amount for their operations.
The fact that cricket was an elitist sport at its inception is perceptible, that it continues to remain so after centuries is contentious. International Cricket Council recognizes more than 125 countries that play cricket. ICC has 10 full members, 38 associate members and 59 affiliate members. That adds up to 107 countries. For a person such as myself who is far from omniscient, it would come as a surprise that there exists a country named Belize, let alone that they have a Cricket Association. Is the ICC doing enough to promote cricket on a global perspective? While we trail for an answer across history and politics and commercialisation, one obvious fact is that cricket is not extending its wings into the horizon, at least not fast enough.
There does exist the likes of Mohammad Shahzad and Rashid Khan whose fortunes have been far greater than that of their war-torn country that they represent, but are we to really take solace in fathoming a few feet in an ocean that’s miles deep?
As much as I hate to relinquish, other sports are doing far more better in this regard. I’ve been particularly observant of this in my adulterous liaison with football, which is primarily club based with a greater focus on returns to the franchise for the money invested. A higher return would require higher brand value and a higher brand value would require top performances. That explains why Deccan Chargers signed Kenyan Cricketer Tanmay Mishra as a domestic cricketer, for performance what mattered and not the big names. In cricket however, National Contests are held more often and Premier Leagues are broadly domestic. To add this are clauses by boards like BCCI that do not passport its players to compete in other leagues in a move to preserve its “sanctities” of commercial profit and talent pool.
This, in turn, reduces the chances for associate players to appear on the big stage. This essentially means that the only other time Chirag Suri can be seen in action is when UAE locks horns with another associate nation, which has very little patronage in their own home countries. This lack of broadcast interest brings down the commercial value that these teams carry. So, for an average cricket fan to tune into a match that has Rashid Khan skittling the remnant West Indian ranks wouldn’t have been made possible but for the rich exploits the 18-year-old bore in the IPL. And in between every wily dismissal was the puffery and propaganda that fetched big bucks from multinational corporations. In between all the chaos and pomp alike, there was a silent victor, Afghan cricket.
The ICC did take a step in the right direction by elevating Ireland and Afghanistan to test status. Our senior blogger Sriram Ranganath explains why in this article.
Taking a leaf out of football, if there were mixed nation competitive events that are across a global platform, perhaps cricket shall burgeon into a phenomenon that is not demarcated to select nations. Let the interest sprout, and the infrastructure shall follow. The fundamentals of economics and the rationale in business is more than convincing to vouch to attract investments where there is demand.
Olympic participation is another viable option that will spurt the interest of well over half the global audience. More importantly it will make the associate and affiliate Nations eligible for funds from the government which is a major boost.
Being an avid lover of this beautiful sport, I am buoyant of a time when a young 15-year-old kid from Turkey would play a perfect cover drive zealous about brushing shoulders with the world’s best in a sport that truly would have transgressed boundaries laid down by a redundant system.
Cricaddict and Foodie