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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Cricket News

Ground reality: it pays to have India as the opposition
Khurram Habib, Hindustan Times
Johannesburg, December 04, 2013
First Published: 01:37 IST(4/12/2013)
Last Updated: 11:33 IST(5/12/2013)

A Pakistani fan told a South African reporter here how his team had done a favour to the Proteas by playing a hastily organised ODI series that ended last week.

The reporter replied with a glum look, “But we are losing money on this. This is just to make the sponsors happy and get them the number of matches they’ve paid for.”

Economics drives cricket these days, and the reality escapes passionate fans. The Pakistani fan was wiser at the end of the chat.  In the past when two teams have played each other a lot, they’d be of equal strength and ranking and their match-ups grabbed the entire cricketing world’s attention --- whether it was Australia playing West Indies 22 times in 1984 or Australia playing South Africa 18 times a few years back.

Insipid contest
Pakistan have played 24 internationals against South Africa this year and not one game has stuck with us. Cricketers too have been looking for some more excitement and attention than just this.

“It’s been a bit like Groundhog Day where you wake up and play the same team all the time,” Hashim Amla said after a recent ODI against Pakistan. “It will be welcome for everybody to play India when they arrive.”

It is learnt that any tour to South Africa makes a loss except those involving England, Australia and India. According to officials, in-stadia advertising for five India-SA games (two Tests and three ODIs) were sold to a South African company for around $750,000 (R5 crore), fetching R1 crore a match for the South African cricket board.

Varied returns
A series with any other team fetches approximately 30-50% less depending on the quality of opposition. It’s certainly not enough to meet the costs of that particular series.


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