The Global Popularity and Culture of CricketJesse O'Reilly |
As one of the oldest sports still currently played in the world, cricket’s popularity is still going strong. A look at the biggest international stage like the Cricket World Cup shows that the collision of cultures in the game keeps it healthy.
Major rivalries in the sport add extra spice, like India vs Pakistan and arguably the most famous of all, the brilliant Ashes rivalry between England and Australia. Cricket is still massively popular with a strong fanbase. That includes people who like to bet on the game. Studying stats and odds on analytical sites that offer objective info and reviews of bookmakers and are available in multiple countries, including Sweden and Croatia makes it all highly accessible.
Even though cricket has spread across the globe, it is still only played at the highest level in smaller regional areas when you look at the global picture. How did the sport become popular where it is?
Where It All Started
The game is credited with being started in England in the late 16th century. This is an interesting cornerstone of the journey of cricket and its ensuing popularity. It was in the 18th century that cricket became fully established in the country and the game just took off from there.
Where the sport largely ended up, was due to the colonisation acts around the world by the English. It is at the very highest level, a very Commonwealth-oriented sport when you consider other powerhouse nations of the game like Australia, South Africa and India.
Along with the assigned Test Nations, the ICC came up with the idea of Affiliate Member status in the mid-80s. For countries that lacked history and grassroots infrastructure in the game compared to the Test nations, it was designed to give a tiered-level competition to emerging nations like Argentina, the USA, Turkey and the Philippines.
There are more than 90 Affiliate Members, so growth, however slow, is happening within cricket.
Current Cricket Test Nations
Two Sides of the Commonwealth Coin
The importance of rivalries can’t be understated in the growth of international cricket. Clashes between England, Australia and South Africa have been there since the Imperial Cricket Conference was founded in 1909. So there are long histories and to this day, Test contests between them are big highlights.
The steady and slow addition of Commonwealth countries, like New Zealand, West Indies India and Pakistan pushed things along. But while the sport, controlled by the ICC, was allowed to flourish within the Commonwealth, its control did also stunt global development.
The ICC was not really pushing to promote and support non-Commonwealth nations to further broaden the popularity of the sport. So that lack of support in the foundations of the game is why we get the current setup today. There are only 10 test nations.
In comparison to something like the FIFA World Cup in football, where pretty much every country on the planet gets a shot at participating, cricket remains more on the exclusive side. Especially from a European perspective.
The European football scene is arguably the biggest in the world. But cricket failed from the outset to really embrace this region of the world. How interesting it would be today if there was something like a Cricket European Championship tournament!
As with any sport, there have been modern developments within cricket to evolve and importantly attract new support. Cricket would crumble without people flooding into grounds like Lords and the MCC to watch contests.
The Test Match format is still the pinnacle of the sport, while the One Day Internationals played the main supporting role. But the game has developed further still with the likes of the Twenty20 and The Hundred formats coming onto the scene.
The arrival of Twenty20 in the 2000s shook up the sport. Narrowing the game down to just 20 Overs per side, took the game away from the slow, methodical format that it has historically been known for. It encouraged a new style of playing, consistent, heavy slogging for the boundaries.
The Twenty20 format was the backbone of a new wave of support in cricket, notably in England, India and Australia with the Blast, IPL and Big Bash leagues respectively. Each of the leagues has its own identity and flair. It eventually led to the Twenty20 World Cup for international teams.
The Hundred, developed in England, is the newest format of the game, another limited-over competition involving both men’s and women’s teams has introduced a new branch to the game. Still in its relative infancy, it hasn’t expanded around the world yet.
The popularity of cricket remains strong currently. Naturally, major events like the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes are always going to draw bigger crowds and more television coverage than something like England’s County Championship.
But there is great variety in the game which is very important to the game staying relevant in the modern age. Playing conditions play a major part in the varying playing styles and culture of international teams.
Also, the more that cricket expands inclusivity with the growth of formats like youth, visually impaired and women’s games, is another great advertisement for the future of global cricket.