Friday, 12 September 2008

A Billion Dollars between Lunch and Tea? That's just not Cricket

ESPN Star Sports, the Asian broadcaster part owned by Rupert Murdoch, will pay $975 million for the 10yr exclusive rights for the Twenty20 Champions League, a tournament where the first ball has not yet been bowled. The Indian Premier League (IPL) had earlier bagged a $1.03 billion 10 year deal for 60 games a year, but the Champions League will only have 22 to 25 games a year. In response to the IPL riches, the Texas billionaire Alan Stanford has already announced a $20 million match in November between England and a West Indies all star team. Each member of the winning team will win $1 million, an amount equal to the total prize money available for the 12 teams that participated in the 1999 cricket world cup in England.

Reminds me of the famous Churchill phrase, "never was so much owed by so many to so few". In this case the "so few" not the valiant fighters of the RAF, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Representative for the largest share of cricket watchers in the world, they have been quick to pounce on the commercial opportunities and bounty is now being shared by cricket players all over the world. Not long ago the man of the match award at International cricket matches would get a $500 prize. Winning members of the Stanford match will earn that amount every 5 seconds of being on the field. Cricket has been late in claiming its commercial place among world sports, but you know a sport has arrived when Nike turns it into an advert.

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