India overtook England and Australia as the world's top cricketing nations, revolutionising the sport in ways that its early proponents in Melbourne or London could never have envisaged.
Since it launched the successful Indian Premier League tournament in 2008, India has brought unparalleled riches to the sport. Its teams now attract the world’s best players and have bought up international franchises.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India controls international policy and receives a larger portion of international revenue than England and Australia put together. India have also affecting the way the game is played, with test teams like England increasingly adopting aggressive, crowd-pleasing play similar to the 20-20 style of the IPL.
“India’s influence in global cricket cannot be overstated,” said Arun Dhumal, the IPL’s chair and a former BCCI executive. “The IPL has been a game changer, not only for Indian cricket but also for world cricket, in terms of the traction it’s generated with fans across the globe, in terms of the financial bandwidth . . . It has been phenomenal.”
For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cricket has proved a useful tool at a time when he is projecting India as a rising power. Many of the event’s key matches, including the final, will be in his political base of Ahmedabad at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s largest cricket ground. Advocates disclosed this was a fair reflection of the money India was bringing into the game, with countries enjoying higher overall revenues even if their share of the pie had shrunk. Media rights for the 2023-27 IPL games were sold for an unprecedented $6bn, making the league the second-most valuable on a per game basis after the US NFL.
“When you see where that value is created, I think it’s understandable,” Richard Gould, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, said on a podcast last month.