User:AshleighLowe/The politics and businesses of cricket

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View my presentation here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwrMzISs2PQ&feature=youtu.be

Australia vs South Africa.jpg

This paper will examine the politics and businesses surrounding the sport of cricket and observe involvement on both a national and international level. It will continue to explore the nature of cricket, cricket’s relationship and articulation with business and politics, and the use of sports and cricket as a political vehicle.

Research has shown there is a relationship between politics, government, the media and sports. Sport intersects with many other issues in society namely politics. Sport and politics collide on many occasions and this paper will highlight the use of cricket as a means of political involvement and vehicle for improvement.

Cricket has been used as a vehicle for political involvement through numerous cases including Australia’s decision not to attend the tour of Zimbabwe as a result of the Mugabe regime, the current political playground Indian cricket has been faced with, as well as the decision to boycott games in Pakistan after a terrorist attack. In Australia’s decision not to attend Zimbabwe, Archbishop of Bulawaya, Pius Ncube asked the team not to come as he saw the team as ‘key representatives of the Australian people kitted out in their baggy green caps which is a quintessential symbol of Australia’s national identity and represents the country.’ [1]


The paper will utilise academic journals, information and research findings from Cricket Australia and Cricket boards throughout the world, as well as newspaper articles and blogs.

Introduction[edit]

Throughout the world today sport plays a major role in many of the world’s problems. Many think that sport is the answer to all our questions but is that really the case? Cricket has been used a political vehicle for many years especially on an international scale. Countries use cricket as a means of political involvement whereby they put their own or their countries political agenda on the table through sport, for example many politicians like to be seen out and about mingling with other high members at sporting matches where they can use it as a forum to discuss political issues. This paper will examine the politics and businesses surrounding the sport of cricket and observe involvement on an international, national and local level. It will continue to explore the nature of cricket, cricket’s relationship and articulation with business and politics, and the use of sports and cricket as a political vehicle as well as the intersection between business and politics throughout the sport of cricket.

The Intersection of Business and Politics in Cricket[edit]

Cricket truly is a sport for all. It has long had a history of political interference which is usually based around race and ethnicity which have been the focal points of conflict throughout the world for many years. [2] This forms the basis of much of this essay.

When it comes to businesses involvement in cricket there is no better example than that of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The IPL is the most spoken about tournament in the world today. The league is big business. Since its inception in 2009, it has moved from strength to strength. The IPL ‘even made it to fourth spot on the Forbes list of the world’s hottest sporting properties.’ [3] Some of India’s ‘richest and most powerful names, from Industrialists to film stars’ own the teams and bid for their highest players. As a result of this they can therefore attract the big name players for a large pay checks. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was bought for $1.5, $1.35 for Andrew Symonds and $950,000 for an experienced youngster. From this ‘cricket raised its eyebrows, held its breath and braced itself for a compelling, spectacular and multi-faceted event’ which has reached a new era in sporting history. [4]

Some players even turned down the opportunity or are looked over to play tests with their country due to the heavy constraints of the IPL. Chris Gayle captain of West Indies was overlooked for selection for the tour of Pakistan due to his decision to play in the IPL league. What kind of message is this sending for world cricket? The IPL is attracting the big name players because of the high salaries they can produce due to the privately owned franchises. This business means many players opt out of playing for their country which used to be the highest honour bestowed on any player in their career. Is this all changing? The big business of cricket seems to be very high on the agenda at present.

Politics drives some countries involvement in sport. Some players and administrators claim that ‘sport and politics should be kept separate’, but this is not always the case [5] In a country such as Australia, politics and business are quite seen to be parts of routine life for example; high level politicians may attend an event out of personal interest, but if they are in pursuit of popular support, they are generally always seen at big sporting games where they shake hands with the players, and even get involved in the barracking.[6]

The intersection doesn’t just stop there. Sport also plays the game when it comes to business and politics, they are not entirely innocent. Sport plays the game “in return for a fair whack of public money being invested in the national effort to punch above our weight in as many sports as possible.” [7]

International Perspective[edit]

In some countries cricket is used as a political vehicle for protests. In recent years throughout International Cricket there has been significant direct detrimental political interference and allegations of corruption and mismanagement. The ICC is supposedly taking a stand to suspend member boards who are doing so. [8] This in end could potentially affect the ability to ‘field representative teams or receive funding and other associated benefits from the IOC.’ [9] As a result of this, local fans are becoming increasingly disillusioned. “ It is their passion that powers cricket and if they turn their backs then the whole system of cricket will come crashing down.” [10]) This shows the relationship that international cricket has on that of local grassroots cricket. The international politics in end determines user and fan interests and generates a seemingly bad reputation across certain countries.

Throughout India and Pakistan there is high political conflict and dispute. Many believe cricket could be used to solve these problems however, ‘cricket diplomacy has not worked before.’ [11] It is not the job of cricket diplomacy to resolve the dispute between India and Pakistan. There is a naive belief that cricket can act as a “peacemaker”. [12] For the world cup semi final against the 2 countries army personnel were in force to protect players and spectators, while the Indian premier mentioned the great match would be a “victory for sport.” [13] The underlying business was something else. ‘The Prime Minister invited Pakistan’s PM and President to the game as well as issuing 6500 visas for Pakistanis to watch the match’ which highlighted the importance of their political agenda. [14] Such moves have been made previously as well by both countries to combat the numerous political issues between the two countries. But is sport really the place do to this?

There is far too much political influence in world cricket. Cricket is not despite what some believe the answer to the world’s problems. There is a real trend of politics and cricket. In South African cricket they employ “a quota system in their game, whereby a certain amount of players are white and certain amounts are black. It’s sort of understandable given the troubles they have had in the past with apartheid.” [15] South Africa has a select panel that picks their teams. For the series with England, 3 out of the 4 selectors wanted Mark Boucher yet through some kind of loophole in the system – a politician decreed that it could not happen. What business is it of a politician to say can play and who can’t?

Australia’s decision not to attend the tour of Zimbabwe as a result of the Mugabe regime came as no surprise due to the political climate and unrest in the country in recent years. It was Archbishop of Bullawaya, Pius Ncube who asked the Australian team not to come as he saw the team as “key representatives of the Australian people kitted out in their baggy green caps which is a quintessential symbol of Australia’s national identity and represents the country. [16] Zimbabwe is a country that has been torn apart by political unrest in recent years as evident with Australia withdrawing from their tour of Zimbabwe which also led to Zimbabwe voluntarily withdrawing from test cricket in 2005.

Ever since 1996 Politicians knew that “Sri Lanka’s cricket team has enormous popular attention and thus generates alot of political appeal.” [17] Therefore they use their cricket team as a means to lobby political issues. This has raised many concerns for numerous countries since then, however many large political leaders use this popular attention to complete their own political agendas.

Indian cricket has been dealing with an intense political playground over the years. ‘Politicians are playing an increasingly important role in cricket in India which has always had upper and middle class support having been sponsored by the Indian princes and Indian business.’ [18] Due to this there has been political turmoil among the ranks and has caused a real tug of war effect within the sport. Santash Giri believes “it is really disheartening as a cricket fan to see how Indian cricket is the very playground for a deadly mix of political power and vested commercial interest.’ [19] This shows the changes in consumer attitudes and a shift away from the sport of cricket due to this vested political tension.

National Perspective[edit]

Cricket Australia used to be known as the “shining beacon among all cricket boards and the one to aspire to replicate.” [20] However as time has gone on, much has changed about this. They used to have an all conquering side, a domestic competition rivalled by all and infrastructure that suggested the ‘future was assured.’ [21] However now many other countries have learnt from this and developed a different strategy which has taken over from cricket Australia’s leading ways. India has developed the Indian Premier League which is now at the forefront of international cricket. Many players are being recruited to sides over there due to privately owned teams offering big money to play for them. In the end most things come down to money and when you have Sheiks owning these clubs then how can any other national competition compete?

To add to this Australia’s national team has not such a good run of late losing the ashes and other series in the last few years, however cricket itself in Australia has been on the decline. Cricket Australia initiated an experiment with split innings in domestic one-day matches which was a failure and was quickly aborted mostly due to the increasingly popularity of the Twenty20. And now as Gideon Haigh believes it even worse could follow with the new franchise Big Bash League, something which could be “disastrous for the future of Australian cricket.” [22]

Maybe there is something to be said for the differing range and types of cricket played throughout Australia. Currently Cricket Australia has a program of nine different series within cricket here in Australia and internationally. Is there too much variety on offer? Obviously many players are going where the money is which is where the big business is and at the moment that is the Indian Premier League, however maybe cricket Australia could reduce their program and focus more strongly on one aspect to combat this.

Nationally in Australia cricket in recent years has seen a decline in playing rates among the last few years particularly in relation to junior programs. However, Cricket Australia the national peak body for cricket has developed key community incentives for local sporting clubs. The introduction of Weetbix My Cricket Community Cricket highlights Cricket Australia’s commitment to supporting cricket on the local and community level. This offer supports clubs through allowing clubs to manage competitions, receive tips from masters, access to club assistance programs. It is a national cricket management system for cricket in Australia. “Australian cricket has an ongoing commitment to evolve Weet-bix My Cricket and provide greater value and return to associations, clubs and participants.” [23] Cricket Australia is constantly striving to enhance the future for community clubs. Cricket Australia has also developed a National Facilities strategy which plays an important part in developing quality cricket facilities ‘for training and playing therefore increasing involvement and enjoyment of the game for all.’ [24] This strategy will provide a number of cricket infrastructure facilities ‘to meet the participation needs of communities and objectives of Australian cricket.’ [25] Too add to this they also focus on the generation of revenue in order to invest in cricket facilities for community use. This has a key message for cricket in general.

Local Perspective[edit]

The focus on grass roots and community level cricket from Cricket Australia with the support of businesses and sponsors has a positive impact on community involvement. Cricket Australia is able to create and provide value propositions for local businesses to get involved with cricket and enthuse young participants. By becoming a member association of Cricket Australia, community clubs have access to a range of cricket offers including Brett Lee’s Bootcamp, Umpiring, Club development and assistance, volunteers, coaching and insurance. Through these incentives community cricket clubs are able to better utilise their assets and improve cricket as a sport for all. These examples are key attributes to how cricket as a community can flourish. Cricket Australia develops a reputation of a vibrant national game that is able to infuse and enthuse local participants.

When speaking about this topic at the local and community level we need to focus efforts on how communities create and support ovals and club facilities within the sport of cricket. In Canberra the decision was made not to water some ovals and let them decline. What kind of implications does this then have for the children and supporters of the clubs and for cricket in general? Since 2002, 21 sportsgrounds and playing fields in Canberra could not be maintained due to high level water restrictions. Normally Canberra boasts the ‘highest level of participation rates of sport in the country however nowadays the demand for sporting facilities is almost at breaking point’. [26] As the drought takes effect sporting grounds are in the firing line. Particularly affected has been junior sport, which have had to share grounds and play earlier and later than usual. ‘Cricket was the hardest hit loosing 25% of their grounds.’ [27] As a result of this, they then had to look at alternative options such as sharing grounds with other sports or looking to move to indoor facilities. “Potentially this move by the government could stop young children and seniors playing on the weekends as well as shortening the season.” [28]

ACT Opposition Sports Spokesperson Steve Doszport said ‘though sports had managed with fewer facilities, they had been unable to expand their junior programs. There is no doubt some parents pulled their kids out of sport as a result.’ [29] This contradicts most national sporting programs objectives to increase the participation rates of juniors within their junior programs. So how then do the NSO’s support their local clubs and find alternatives?

This too is also the case in Cairns as these facilities are owned by Council which then lease the grounds out to the clubs. As a result of this lease it is then up to them to maintain and support the use of those facilities. These clubs receive funding from their peak governing body being Cricket Australia as well as their state governing body Cricket Queensland. This money however is generally not enough to support them through the dry season. During the dry season there is no option to water the grounds. The maintenance of these facilities decreases and the grounds are left in an irreparable state. In one sense it is the clubs decision not to maintain these facilities but at the other end of the spectrum can much else be done under the circumstances? Is this where clubs need more support from their governing body in determining key strategies and action plans for implementation in such an instance?

It is the communities decision to maintain the ovals and what determines that ultimately the position of cricket nationally. If cricket is on top then communities will make sure to maintain their facilities in order to raise the profile of their club and ideally cricket in the nation. Local communities, clubs and associations have to work together to create and support ovals and club facilities.

Conclusion[edit]

Sport and politics collide on many occasions and this paper has highlighted the use of cricket as a means of political involvement and interference. Throughout this paper there has been numerous examples and case studies of how cricket has been used as a political vehicle for many countires including India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Australia. Australia’s decision not to attend the tour of Zimbabwe as a result of the Mugabe regime, the current political playground Indian cricket has been faced with, as well as the decision to boycott games in Pakistan after a terrorist attack are all prime examples of how the sport of cricket is used to steer political beliefs and agendas.

Many countries national teams are their sense of identity and by lobbying their beliefs through them they are seen to be getting their point across. This paper has highlighted key themes of business, politics and cricket and the intersection between all three.

References[edit]

  1. Longstaff S, "When Sport and Politics Collide", The Sunday Age, January 2007.
  2. Right off the Bat, http://rightoffthebatbook.com, 18th October 2011
  3. Indian Premier League,http://iplt20.com,20th October 2011.
  4. Indian Premier League,http://iplt20.com,20th October 2011.
  5. Longstaff S, "When Sport and Politics Collide", The Sunday Age, January 2007.
  6. Longstaff S, "When Sport and Politics Collide", The Sunday Age, January 2007
  7. Longstaff S, "When Sport and Politics Collide", The Sunday Age, January 2007
  8. Cricket Nirvana, http://cricketnirvana.com,18th October 2011.
  9. Cricket Nirvana, http://cricketnirvana.com,18th October 2011.
  10. Cricket Nirvana, http://cricketnirvana.com,18th October 2011.
  11. Priya Singh,http://priyasingh.co.in,17th September 2011.
  12. Priya Singh,http://priyasingh.co.in,17th September 2011.
  13. Priya Singh,http://priyasingh.co.in,17th September 2011.
  14. Priya Singh,http://priyasingh.co.in,17th September 2011.
  15. Winfield D, 2008, www.cricket-online.org/news.php
  16. Longstaff S, "When Sport and Politics Collide", The Sunday Age, January 2007
  17. Roberts M, ‘Some political dimensions of cricket stadiums in Sri Lanka’, Sri Lanka Guardian, March 2011
  18. Bose M, ‘The Commonwealth Games: Why India is a bit player in the world of Sport’, The Independent, Sep 23 2010
  19. Giri S in Roberts M, ‘Some political dimensions of cricket stadiums in Sri Lanka’, Sri Lanka Guardian, March 2011
  20. Sportskeeda,http://sportskeeda.com,17th October 2011
  21. Sportskeeda,http://sportskeeda.com,17th October 2011
  22. Haigh, in ‘The Politics in Cricket’ , www.sportskeeda.com, July 19 2011
  23. Cricket Australia,http://.cricket.com.au
  24. Cricket Australia,http://.cricket.com.au
  25. Cricket Australia,http://.cricket.com.au
  26. Downie G, ‘Questions remain over disused grounds’, The Canberra Times, 4th July 2011
  27. Downie G, ‘Questions remain over disused grounds’, The Canberra Times, 4th July 2011
  28. Reid in Gavel T, ‘Dry Sports’, ABC Stateline, 11th May 2007
  29. Downie G, ‘Questions remain over disused grounds’, The Canberra Times, 4th July 2011

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