Kerry Packer’s cricketing revolution changed the game forever in the late 70s and part of the reason that it succeeded (people tend to forget that it WAS a success) was that the game was ripe and ready for a takeover.
It’s administrators had become lazy and cricket audiences, both on television and at the grounds, were not being looked after. Test matches had become slow and draw-ridden and many other sports had started making serious inroads into the leisure-time market.
There are some people who believe the game, with it’s current credibility problems, is once again ripe for a takeover. And some are saying that Rupert Murdoch has already started the process.
I make no promises about the authenticity of the story, but it is fascinating enough to share, so read it with as much salt as you like.
‘Inter-city’ cricket will comprise 12 teams playing one-day cricket for ten months of the year. Bombay, Calcutta, Sydney, Melbourne, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kingston, Lahore, London, Manchester, Auckland and Harare. Each team will recruit a squad of 12 full-time professionals who will be guaranteed US$1 million per year.
Further additions to the squad will be paid on a match-by-match basis and the majority will be ‘locals’, although certainly not all. Harare, for instance, will be guaranteed a competitive squad with several international additions to a core of Zimbabwean players like Andy Flower, Heath Streak and Guy Whittall. That is, if those players can be persuaded to take part. One million US dollars can be pretty persuasive.
It is not clear whether players would be signed to play exclusively or whether they will be able to carry on their international one-day and Test careers, but a three-year deal worth over 20 million rand may be powerful enough for players to put their ‘normal’ careers on hold or even abandon them altogether.
Innovations and gimmicks will come aplenty, of course, but the basic format of 50 overs per side would be retained. However, interest would be maintained in ‘dead’ matches because margins of defeat would dictate the number of points gained by winning and losing teams and therefore their place on the log. Prize money, needless to say, would be enormous.
Player fees would be over 150 million dollars a year and the total cost would probably be doubled. The money, it must be said, would be raised easily by television revenue. 300 million dollars is not a lot to Rupert Murdoch.
Fascinating stuff. Whether it’s true or not, the rumours have spread far enough for two ex-players, in Bloemfontein for the first Test, to discuss their chances of becoming coach to one of the SA teams. “They wouldn’t have to pay me a million dollars,” said one with a smile. “I’d be happy with half a million.”
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.