It was this day 36 years ago that Indian sports found the biggest belief to drive India towards becoming a sporting nation. Cricket took the lead with the Prudential World Cup 1983 title triumph at The Lord’s, London, on June 25. Kapil’s Devils were the architects who laid the foundation for that transformation. Slow, but steady to develop wings and fly in time to come.
Three and a half decades later at yet another ICC World Cup in England, and also in the month of June, India is the superpower for this sport of willow and leather. Strong contenders for the title. The lead contributors to the economy of the sport and the ICC World Cup 2019. Where a majority of the International Cricket Council sponsors are Indian brands. ICC’s biggest source of revenue – the media rights partner Star Sports – with a $ 1.98 billion contract for the 2015-2023 cycle is an Indian entity. Two of the ten ICC World Cup 2019 contenders are playing with the jerseys with the logo of Indian companies – Sri Lanka with Kent RO and Afghanistan with Amul – as their commercial partners for cricket’s biggest show.
There is a lot to talk about India’s financial contribution and Virat Kohli-led boys might for the World Cup 2019. A revisit to India’s cricketing and commercial potential in 1983 is important to put things in perspective. The Board of Control for Cricket in India, cricket world’s richest governing body today, was without a sponsor then. The team that left Indian shores to play the third edition of the quadrennial limited overs tournament were to play more for pride and enjoying an English summer. There was precious little in the baggage to inspire but for a solitary World Cup match victory over East Africa – that was primarily a combination of Indian origin people (natives of Gujarat).
“We would take pride in representing India. That was the biggest motivation and inspiration. Some of the team members had planned holidays in the USA after the group stages matches in the World Cup. We were committed to give a tough fight and try to extend our winning streak past that inconsequential victory over East Africa in 1975. Beyond that there were no major expectations and no pressure. Once we beat the West Indies in the league phase things started changing,” says Madan Lal, the member of the 1983 World Champion team and the man to have bowled the first ever delivery in the World Cup cricket history. “When we beat the West Indies for the second time in the final everything changed. Cricket has not been the same thereafter for us or in India.
“Financially, the team members were to get a fee of I think ₹ 7,500 for the entire World Cup. When we came back the BCCI gave ₹ 1 lakh to each team member. That was an unheard of sum in Indian cricket. The board had to request Lata Mangeshkar for a fundraiser to adequately reward the players. That states all about the financial status of cricket before 1983.”
Today, a majority of the 1983 World Cup team members is drawing more benevolent pension per month than that ₹ 1 lakh reward.
On the field, India have won one more ICC World Cup crown since – in 2011 at home. The present Indian team in England is strong enough to add one more World Cup trophy to BCCI’s closet. Off the field, India incorporation and the governing body for the sport in the country holds the potential to direct global cricket. The foundation for this 360° transformation lay in that 1983 title triumph.
“Without the 1983 victory, Indian cricket would be a lot less richer than it is today. The sport of the nation has been through a long and at times boring academic history. The 1983 win was Indian cricket’s disruptive moment. It coincided beautifully with India’ economic reformative years as well to boot,” says, brand and business strategist and owner of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
“Eyeballs grew, passion in the game grew, interest in every member of the team grew, brands sat up and took note, and brands decided this was the game to back if the eyeballs snd passion was to be harvested for commercial gain.”
From one odd “Palmolive the Jawab Nahin” or “Rapidex English Speaking Course” endorsements by the 1983 champion captain Kapil Dev, the Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli today is a ₹ 230 crore brand per annum.
Philosophically speaking, if there were no 1983 World Cup triumph, the cricketing world might not have encountered Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. India’s win on June 25, 1983, at the Lord’s had inspired then the 10-year-0ld Tendulkar, according to the legend himself. He became the first cricketer to ink a ₹ 100 crore representation and talent management deal – with the WSG in 2001. It was all happening in India, where till 1983 the players for first-class matches would travel by train, stay at hostels and dormitories. Luxury hotels were a dream. Today, Kohli has a ₹ 100 crore deal with one single brand – Puma.
Virender Sehwag by his own confessions earns ₹ 20 crore per annum post his retirement from all forms of cricket. Kohli, MS Dhoni and Tendulkar are icons with over ₹ 100 crore brand value each.
Among the Indian boys in England, skipper Kohli (₹13.75 crore), Dhoni (₹4.33 crore) and Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (₹ 3 crore each) carried the bat endorsement deals more than the worth of the entire Indian cricket board in 1983.
According to InsideSport.co IPL Moneyball, three players – Kohli, Dhoni and Rohit – have earned over ₹ 100 crore in their IPL salaries over the years. At least 16 players have been richer by ₹ 50 crore or more by playing the IPL.
Going beyond individuals, what the Indian economy offers to world cricket! Of the one billion cricket audience worldwide, 90% come from India. It is this giant’s chunk is the pie that controls world cricket financially. Makes the BCCI a virtual powerhouse of the sport.
The commercial might of national cricket boards best reflects in their media rights deals. The BCCI has broadcast deals with Star worth $ 3.49 billion – $ 2.55bn for five years of Indian Premier League rights and $940 mn for Indian domestic and international cricket for four years. Cricket Australia’s combined media rights deal, including the Big Bash League, is valued at $ 1.82 bn. The next two, England & Wales Cricket Board and Pakistan Cricket Board are grossing $ 1.98 bn and $ 186 million respectively from their broadcast deals pie.
In 1983, host broadcaster BBC would avoid to cover a World Cup LIVE unless it is essential. Several of India’s matches then, including the famous game against Zimbabwe in which Kapil had smashed a world record 175 not out, were not recorded. Today, broadcast plays the lead role in determining the schedule of a match. The broadcasters are taking insurance protection against all possible threats. The sponsors and brands take insurance cover to their investment and commitments. So much so, that a curtailed or cancelled match might cost the insurance sector up to ₹ 100 crore ($ 150,000).