Kansai Cricket Association

Entertainment and Tradition

Note: This translation is from the original Japanese language and may have slight variations depending on the specific cricket references.

In the first week of April, two new seasons of cricket leagues began, and by comparing these two leagues, we can observe the recent changes in cricket.

One is the Indian Premier League (IPL), which started in 2008 and is now in its 10th season. It spans over about two months and involves teams from 8 Indian cities competing for the championship. All team ownership is in private hands, with many team owners being prominent businessmen or film actors. The league adopts a format known as Twenty20, which has a limited number of deliveries, and a single match typically lasts around 3 hours.

I still remember the day when IPL began very clearly. I had already decided to support the Mumbai Indians, where my favorite player Sachin Tendulkar was playing, months before the league started, and I couldn’t wait for the opening match. Despite various scandals that have plagued IPL over the years, such as match-fixing controversies and changes in league chairmanship, the league’s popularity has continued to grow.

The other league is the English County Championship (CC), the oldest professional cricket league with a history spanning over 100 years. It involves 18 clubs in the first and second divisions, each competing for the championship. The season typically runs until September. This league follows the “first-class” format, and a single match can take up to 4 days to complete. Due to the frequent rain in the UK, many matches end in draws.

Clubs located in cricket-loving regions like Somerset and Yorkshire can still attract thousands of fans, even on weekdays. However, many county clubs are troubled by decreasing attendance, and photos of empty stands make headlines every year. Some even jokingly say that the spectators are only elderly people and their dogs. Nevertheless, it’s probably incorrect to assume that the County Championship has completely lost its popularity. According to the BBC, the total viewership for the first six matches of the first round, which started on April 7th, exceeded one million. Even if stands appear empty on weekday mornings, it doesn’t mean that there is no interest in the matches. Each of the 18 clubs has its own identity, and fans take pride in the players who grew up locally. Let’s hope this remains unchanged in the future.

English players are no exception when it comes to hoping to play in the IPL, where they can earn substantial rewards in just two months. This season, star players like Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, and Jos Buttler, who are regulars in the England team, are participating. Until a few years ago, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was against English players participating in the IPL, but in recent years, they have allowed participation as long as players don’t miss international matches.

With India’s economic growth, the power of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been growing steadily. The broadcasting rights fees for the World Cup, which have grown to billions of rupees, are supported by India’s vast market. The phrase coined by sociologist Ashis Nandy, “Cricket is a sport discovered by India in England by accident,” is taking on a completely different meaning in reality.

Note: This translation is from the original Japanese language and may have slight variations depending on the specific cricket references.

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