The game of cricket has evolved slowly even reluctantly, but ever so sure, it has emerged as one of the most followed game on Earth and a financially viable career for the players and those involved. It was not always like this. Let us take a look at 9 things that changed the game of cricket forever in the modern era.
1. Introduction of one day cricket
During the 1970-71 Ashes series between Australia and England, the first three days of the third test at Melbourne were washed out due to incessant rain. To give the paying public some relief, the teams agreed to play a one-off one-day match of 40 overs each (Australia had an 8-ball over system in place then). Australia duly won that match by 5 wickets and thus set the way for a major change, a shortened form of cricket called the one-day international. This idea, in the long run, revitalized the game of cricket and brought in new fans.
2. Kerry Packer
The name should be enough to state the impact he has had on the game of cricket. Players paid handsomely to play, coloured clothing, multiple cameras, day-night cricket all of these were Packer’s gift to the game of cricket. The tycoon, then the owner of Channel 9 in Australia, had a disagreement with the Australian Cricket Board and decided to take them head on. He invited the best players from Australia, West Indies, South Africa, England and Pakistan. The who’s who of world cricket played for the World Series Cricket (WSC) and were paid well above their present wages for their countries. The world cricket bodies in turn banned players but were forced to take them back once Packer got what he wanted, broadcasting rights for cricket in Australia! In the process he brought in changes to the game that are now standard and taken for granted.
3. Lloyd’s All-Pace Attack Theory
The West Indies under Clive Lloyd toured Australia in 1976, a team filled with attractive stroke makers who played carefree cricket. They were brutally pummeled into submission by the pace duo of Dennis Lillee and Geoff Thompson supported by Gary Gilmour posted 5 huge wins on to Windies’ one in Perth. More than the defeats, the perceived humiliation set Lloyd thinking, he already had Michael Holding and Andy Roberts. He decided to abandon all pretensions of including a spinner and made it an all place attack. The rest as they say is history and Windies ruled the next two decades without challenge. Roberts, Holding, Daniel, Julien, Croft, Garner, Marshall, Walsh and Ambrose the assembly line produced one great bowler after another.
4. Imran’s push for neutral umpires
Winning in New Zealand and Pakistan before the 90s was as difficult as scaling the Everest without oxygen! It could be done of course but only once in a decade or something! The problem was umpiring and notorious lack of neutrality. Australia and Sri Lanka were better, but only slightly. Imran Khan had had enough. After every loss to Pakistan in Pakistan, teams brought up umpiring as the problem or the reason for their losses. He was influential within PCB and put pressure on the board to invite the first two neutral umpires (Piloo Reporter and Ramaswamy from India) and the ever so slow ICC finally caught on and made it a standard practice in 1992 (but with only one neutral umpire!). Ever since 2002, it has been two neutral umpires. Imran Khan, the best all-rounder Pakistan has ever produced, was also a cricket visionary!
5. India Winning The 1983 World Cup
Before the tournament started, India had 1 win in 6 matches, that too against East Africa. One of the most controversial innings had been played by Gavaskar (36 off 174 balls carrying his bat). Kapil’s Devils changed all that. Spurred by an outstanding 175 not out against Zimbabwe, the fortunes of India turned and they went on record a historic win over West Indies at Lords to become the only team other than the Windies to triumph. This gave cricket in India a tremendous boost and the country and its cricket team never looked back. Aided by some able administrators who cashed in on the popularity, Cricket overtook hockey as the most followed game and made it a professionally rewarding game for all involved. It is still India’s best run game despite the multiple squabbles.
6. India Takes The World Cup Out Of England
Cricket was run very differently in the 80s. Australia and England had veto power over all decisions of ICC and pretty much had their way. The win in 1983 and subsequent burst in market potential in India changed all that. Jagmogan Dalmia, a shrewd administrator took the next logical step to push India towards greater domination of world cricket; he managed to wrangle the event away from England with India and Pakistan co-hosting the cup. The previous two cups were staid affairs and ceremonies resembling a high school annual day. India changed all that with a laser show and a viewership of close to a billion. It established that even if the spiritual home of cricket would be Lords, the place to be if you are a cricketer was the Eden Gardens!
Indian Premier League or IPL as it is known was neither a new idea nor the first one to hit India. ICL had already been started by Kapil Dev before BCCI woke up and found out that their cash cow has been milked by someone else! But BCCI had their own plans and refused to yield, so went to war with ICL and successfully defeated it with their own model called IPL. This was an instant success and another dish to be savored by the cricket crazy nation. The first match was on April 18, 2008 after a glittering opening ceremony. Brendon McCullum lit up the stadium with a 73 ball 158, with 10 fours and 13 sixes and a strike rate of 216+ and the world of cricket changed forever. The best in the world flock to India now and Indian cricketers too have had some fantastic paydays. IPL is the place to be if you are a cricketer.
8. Ball-Tampering by Aussies in 2018
Cricket and controversy have coexisted for ages! From W.G. Grace telling a bowler that people came to watch “him bat” and not see the “lad bowl” to match fixing scandals controversy has been lurking in the shadows of the game. But in 2018, during the third test between South Africa and Australia at Newlands, Cameron Bancroft was caught using a piece of sandpaper to roughen up the ball in an effort to gain (reverse) swing. But what made this incident stand out was the measure of punishment from Cricket Australia and the fan reaction from around the world. All three were banned from nine months to a year from any form of international or domestic cricket. As a result of this incident, ICC announced a review of punishment for ball-tampering and other acts considered as bad behavior by players or associated staff.
9. The World Cup Final Of 2019
The final was a brilliant one with never ending thrills that probably could rank as the very best in cricket, or it was a comedy of errors from framing the rules to umpires not interpreting them properly. Both views have backers and both are right. But the fact remains that apart from judgment, the rule that the team with most boundaries would win in case of a tie in regular time and super over looked laughable. The Kiwi captain Kane Williamson on the losing side is too much of a gentleman to argue his case but he has many sympathisers if he wants to even amongst the past and present players. As result of this incident, rule changes are being considered but the umpire involved seemed to have gotten away with it without any damage!
(Mohan is a Junior Associate at Swag Swami, an online E-Commerce portal that reviews Cricket equipment. He is also an avid gamer who spends his free time logged into Steam. He also practices Yoga and meditation regularly and teaches Yoga at the Cosmopolitan Centre in India.)