Cricket as popular as the World Cup

Enthusiasm for cricket can be divided fairly precisely geographically: on the one hand Great Britain and its former colonies. On the other hand, the head-shaking rest. But because the British united some particularly populous countries in their empire, the preliminary round match between India and Pakistan was worldwide more than a billion television viewers, statistically of similar relevance as the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

For Haris Sohail, the opening defeat against their neighbor was the second nightmare in a very short time. The Pakistan international fled his hotel room one night while preparing for the tournament after a paranormal phenomenon shook his bed. The team’s doctors, less psychically inclined, diagnosed a fever, but Sohail himself remains convinced he was haunted by a ghost. Maybe it was a kind of cabin fever because the Pakistanis moved into their quarters on the other side of the world three weeks before the start of the tournament. The team from Sri Lanka even arrived in mid-December.

Highlights are few and far between

These long sabbaticals are possible because the national team is the most important and regular employer for most players. The potentially most lucrative jobs, on the other hand, are waiting in India. On the third day of the World Championships, a large number of the participants sat spellbound in front of the computers. The Indian Premier League auction took place in Bangalore, and the players found out whether their labor had been auctioned and for what salary.

The season from April to the end of May has the equivalent of around 100,000 euros available for the average foreigner and up to two million for the top stars. The New Zealander Trent Boult felt like the big winner, who demanded a minimum bid of 70,000 euros, but ultimately bought it for 540,000 euros because three clubs had competed for him.

Surprisingly, there is any money to be made in cricket at all, given that a single match lasts around eight hours on average, with only a break for lunch. The high points are few and far between in this game, which is so slow-moving that bored kids prefer to get autographs from the stars while it’s playing. There’s not much to do in a sport where those who can catch and throw are considered all-rounders.

Like the games, the tournament itself requires a certain level of fitness from the spectators. However, the basically quite manageable number of 49 games is completed in a period of six weeks. The New Zealander, who has chosen rugby as his national sport, can still cope with that and looks rather amused at the “Beige Brigade,” the group that, based on the legendary team of the 1980s, appears in an outfit that looks rather unflattering by today’s standards.

Australia is the record world champion

“For me, this sport is associated with my grandma, who watched cricket on the side all day long on her TV,” says Hadlee Wright, a young New Zealander in his mid-20s. He owes his first name to the passion of his father, who, after the Cricket idol named Sir Richard Hadlee. He used to play in the garden and on the beach with his whole family. But watch a game? “Far too boring,” says Wright, representing the young generation that has lost its heart to the “All Blacks,” the national rugby team.


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