Cricket: Almost a Cult in India

India has and will always be obsessed with Cricket. So much so, that many people think that Cricket is our national game and not Hockey. Cricketers are regarded with God-like status in our country when they win. But they also face a lot of hate when they lose. Participation in Cricket has been higher than most other sports with more avenues opening up in the country. Previously there was only the Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Irani Trophy, and Deodhar Trophy. Within the last 20 years, various new leagues were introduced such as Vijay Hazare Trophy, BCCI Corporate Trophy, Syed Ali Trophy, Inter-State T20 Championship and the most prominent of all, the Indian Premier League.

The cricket craze runs in everyone, from the kids to the older generation. Right from Kapil Dev up until Virat Kohli and K.L.Rahul,  all the cricketers have had a dedicated fan base. On June 25, 1983, India beat West Indies in the finals and won the world cup for the first time, creating history. When Kapil Dev, the then captain of the Indian Cricket Team, lifted the coveted World Cup Trophy it was a great moment of pride for everyone in the country. The win was celebrated like a festival in the country and the players were honoured and paraded around the country. After a long hiatus of not winning the world cup, India beat Srilanka in 2011, making them the world champions once again. The match was played and won in Wankade Stadium, Mumbai. The ending was a nail biting one and India went on to become the first team in history to win the world cup, in their home ground. Under Dhoni’s captaincy India also won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the CB Series of 2007–08, the 2010 and 2016 Asia Cups, and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. The Indian Premier League proved to be a wonderful platform for all the players, including foreign players. New talents were discovered and some old talents were re-discovered. Mujeeb Zadran, an Afghanistan spinner was chosen by Punjab and proved to be worth the 4 crores which was the highest for any new comer. Shivam Mavi, Mayank Markande are Indian bowlers who gained a lot of recognition in the 11th season of the tournament. Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw were the batsmen who shone on the tournament. A seasoned player like Chris Gayle, AB De Villiers and Shane Watson proved that old is gold in the tournament. The scope for participation and to shine in the sport has increased over the years.

Cricket is the most sought after sport in India even in economic terms. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) takes good care of its players. The players who make it to the National team receive good remuneration for their representation. The players are divided into four grades. A+, A.B and C and get paid 7, 5, 3 and 1 crore per year, respectively. The first 11 players in the domestic team get paid roughly 1.40 lakhs per match and after adding the television rights, this amount goes up to 3 lakhs per match. The leading cricketers also earn a lot from endorsements and advertisements. Virat Kohli is the highest paid sportsman in the country. His net worth is estimated around 60 million US Dollars. He endorses Puma, Boost, Colgate, MRF and many other companies. He owns his own fashion brand called WROGN and a fitness chain called Chisel Gym and Fitness Center. Being in the A+ grade he also receives a 7 crore retainer. MS Dhoni’s estimated net worth is a whopping 103 million US Dollars. He endorses Pepsi, Sonata, and TVS Motors and so on. He is also the co-owner of ISL side Chennaiyin FC, Mahi Racing Team India and Ranchi Rays and has also set up a training centre n Ranchi. Sachin Tendulkar is worth around 108 million. He endorses Coca Cola, Adidas, Toshiba, etc. He is also part owner of ISL franchise Kerala Blasters.

The men in the sport get paid quite well and get a lot of recognition. However, the women in the same field do not get as much attention. Recently, when the Women’s team went to the finals of the World Cup, they gained popularity. Mithali Raj, the captain of the team has said that the BCCI is chauvinistic. This is true to some extent. The women are paid significantly lower than the men because the popularity and viewership of their game is quite low. Even other athletes and sportsmen in India are not given the royal treatment given to the ale cricketers. They do not get a fair share of the limelight. Their achievements are usually seen only as small news in the sports section of the paper and not the headlines. The mentality in the country must change and all other sports and athletes must be given equal importance.

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