Twice within 24 hours in early October, cricket advanced towards becoming a genuinely global sport, and it was fitting that both developments occurred in India, a significant driving force in the game.
On October 15, in New Delhi, Afghanistan achieved one of the most astonishing upsets in cricket history by defeating the reigning champions, England, at the Cricket World Cup.
The following day in Mumbai, a development that, while less surprising, had more far-reaching consequences took place: the International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared that cricket would be included in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Cricket’s last appearance at the Olympics was in 1900. The Los Angeles Games are expected to feature six teams for both men and women, competing in the T20 version of the sport.
While cricket’s powerhouse, India, advocated for its inclusion, smaller nations aspire to see it transform a sport that has long been the domain of England and seven territories formerly part of the British Empire: Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies.
Afghanistan attained full membership in the International Cricket Council (ICC) as recently as 2017, bringing the total to 12. The remaining three members are Bangladesh, the Netherlands, and Ireland, countries that seldom have the opportunity to compete against the established cricketing giants.
Cricket’s cultural significance
Cricket holds a central place in India’s heart and soul. Although it originated in England, this sport has discovered its most fervent devotees in the South Asian nation. The connection between India and cricket goes beyond mere fandom, intertwining with the very essence of the country’s culture.
From bustling city streets to cricket-enthusiastic villages, cricket brings together people from all walks of life and regions in India. According to research, an astonishing 93% of sports enthusiasts in India follow cricket closely. In addition, statistical data shows that India boasts an impressive tally of around 3 million registered cricketers.
The nation has been the venue for more than 19,000 domestic, national, and international tournaments. To support this thriving cricket culture, India is home to over 2000 cricket academies, training centres, and stadiums.
Online cricket betting in India is indeed experiencing growth, with the 2023 ICC World Cup expected to attract the highest betting activity globally among all cricket events in history.
The International Centre for Sports Security has assessed the value of the sports betting industry in India to exceed USD 130 billion. This estimate does not even encompass the substantial underground and illegal betting operations prevalent throughout the country.
The popularity of cricket tournaments, including the Indian Premier League and ICC World Cups in both formats, has played a crucial role in propelling the global expansion of cricket betting. Consequently, it has become a rarity to watch cricket on television without encountering some form of gambling advertisements on players’ attire or within the stadium.
Due to the fierce competition within the online betting sector, Indian bettors are now reaping the benefits of attractive offers, diverse betting markets, and more competitive odds than ever before.
In recent years, the advent of online platforms and mobile applications has made cricket betting more accessible, allowing fans to wager on matches. Various online sportsbooks and betting websites offer a wide range of options, including bets on match outcomes, player performances, and more, making cricket betting a significant part of the Indian sports betting landscape.
CricketX Games, for instance, is a platform that combines the excitement of cricket with online gaming, offering cricket-themed games and betting opportunities to fans. This blend of entertainment has gained popularity among enthusiasts who seek both cricket action and interactive gaming experiences.
Moreover, India’s rich cricketing heritage is underscored by its accomplishment of hosting over 300,000 cricket matches. The popularity of cricket in India is unparalleled, and to understand its appeal, one must delve into the historical, cultural, and emotional factors that have made it the nation’s favourite sport.