An elixir of sorts: cricketers pad up to hit the field!
As India-Australia series looks set to kick off this year, besides the talk around IPL 2020, we take a look at how cricket may bring in the excitement to the economy and people in generalUpdated: Jun 01, 2020 01:25 IST
For years now, India has been known to breathe cricket and cinema. But like everything else around the world, the two ‘popular religions’ of the country have also been stopped in their tracks due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now though, athletes, across the world, seem to be pulling up their socks to get into action once again. While German football league, Bundesliga kicked off earlier this month, June will see the much-popular, Premier League and Spanish La Liga taking off.
For Indian sports fans, the exciting news came in earlier this week with Cricket Australia [Australian cricket board] announcing that Virat Kohli-led Indian team are scheduled to play three T20Is and ODIs Down Under [from October onwards], on either side of their four Tests in Australia which includes a day-night Test as well. Plus, there’s a strong buzz that T20 World Cup is set to move to 2021. Instead, Indian Premier League [IPL] may take place towards the end of 2020.
Experts feel considering India’s “innate passion” for cricket, resumption of the game is “going to have a huge impact” not just in terms of money but also people’s psyche. “Sports, especially cricket, are so deeply entrenched in our life that resumption of the game is going to be a kind of elixir in terms of giving a sense of normalcy to people,” says ad maker and film director R Balki. Ad filmmaker and Hasee Toh Phasee director Vinil Mathew too feel that “cricket can distract people and cheer them up” during the pandemic. “But at the same time, human lives are of paramount importance,” he says.
Money-wise, cricket is a multi-billion dollar industry in India. Now, with games looking set to re-start, what can be its overall financial impact? “From revenue perspective, apart from ticket sales money, TV telecast rights money is a huge sum of money, and if it doesn’t come in, then it creates a huge problem for everyone. So, I feel if people can get the games going even without ticket money, it’s going to be worth it. Without spectators, there won’t be same atmosphere but I guess that’s what it is for a while,” says Atul Kasbekar, CEO of Bling Entertainment.
In terms of ad revenues, there may not be a huge jump, say Balki. “I don’t know how many advertisers will be ready to pay a premium price for ad slots since no one has the money with no demand at all for products. So, it’s not like advertisers will jump on to live games,” he says. Kasbekar is hopeful though. “It [sports events] will give entertainment to people sitting at homes and are stuck as they are of interest to almost everyone.”
Kohli – the lone warrior!
India captain Virat Kohli is the only cricketer in the Forbes’ list of top 100 highest-paid athletes of 2020. He is also the only Indian athlete to be featured in the list – at 66th position – with an estimated total earnings of $26 million. At the same time, various reports contend that athletes’ earnings have also taken a huge beating in the last two-three months due to the pandemic. “Everyone has been badly hit by the pandemic, be it film stars or sportspersons. So, it’s not surprising,” says Balki.