Kuala Lumpur represents a triumph for cricket and commerce as the tri-series reinforces emerging trends. Regardless of India’s performance the BCCI is a winner because it knows Indian cricket can be exported to any corner of the world.
Absence of spectators, disinterest in the home country and empty stands at the venue are non-issues — what matters are that the place should have a hotel and an airport.
The rest can be arranged quickly: The ground can be readied, lights erected and a drop-in pitch couriered — from wherever. The only critical input is TV cameras: As long as they are rolling you have, as they say, a game on your hands.
And serious money in the bank. Like the BCCI, the main sponsors also have a reason to smile. The offshore tri-series is their second such attempt after Abu Dhabi, and marks their arrival as a serious player in a game till now dominated by colas and MNCs.
Interestingly, while cricket has shrunk — from Tests to 50 overs to 20 now — its reach has stretched. The pool of sponsors has grown and large investments by new companies reflect the strength of the Indian economy and the capacity of Indian corporates to perform on the big stage.
The Australian players’ association took a dim view of their Board’s cash-for-cricket decision to play in Malaysia, accusing them of putting greed ahead overall good. But commerce cannot be ignored and it seems Cricket Australia made a sound decision as far as cricket is concerned.
As teams prepare for the World Cup, everything in the run-up is an experiment, be it pre-season training in some jungle or team selection. As part of its overall vision for 2007, Australia is looking at Kuala Lumpur as a net session.
They picked experienced players but kept them on the bench; youngsters were given a go and then sent home. Their master plan also says Ponting should rest though he has only played two innings in many months!
These innovations work because Australia has a large pool of talent and their cricket is run by people who think out of the box. For them, individual players, however gifted, count less than the team.