How Indo-Pak ended up hosting the 1987 World Cup Cricket?

As I write this post, there is a real proud feeling.

First, this is the 5000th post of Mostly Economics. This is a huge personal milestone as had no clue that would end up writing so much! Thanks to WordPress and the visitors who have encouraged  this blog all this while. Huge pat to the blog..

Second, there could be no better way to write this 5000th post than talk about this wonderful book – The Story of the Reliance Cup by Mr. NKP Salve. The blogger has always been a huge fan of cricket and would love to write and think more on the sport. The events of the last few years has led to huge discontentment with the state of affairs. The blogger never cared to figure the man reason behind NKP Salve tournament and this autobiography gives you great insights about many things. As the authorities keep piling shame on Indian cricket, perhaps they should read this book to understand the challenges faced by authorities then to bring this whole cricketmania to India. Given how things stand today, even the guys who brought this whole game to Indian shores would be reflecting on whether they did any wrong?

Mr Salve was a man who wore multiple hats. Apart from being a minister with Congress Party, he played an instrumental role in bringing Cricket World Cup to India despite all the odds. Was hugely inspired y’day from this post which led me to stumble on this book and just could not keep-off.  It was such an interesting phase in history of Indian cricket. Though, one has to be patient with the book as it also covers how cricket became connected to the author’s life. The masala of the book comes a little later..

This interesting history of Indian and world cricket must be known to the older generation which followed cricket then. But I doubt whether the current generation has any ideas on this. We take this cricket revolution in India kind of granted not thinking about the history.   But it took quite some effort to realise the potential of cricket demand in the country. Cricinfo.com should devote one section to cricket history, as it has become the central place to read on the sport.

It all started from the WC 1983 victory. There was huge excitement and celebrations after the win. One such lunch Mr Salve had with SL and Pak officials. SL cricket chief (also a cabinet minister) mentioned it was a spectacle to see India emerge victorious at Lords’. To which Salve replied ” I wish we had played such match in India. How wonderful it would be if we could play the World  Cup in India”. To which Pak chief Air Marshal Noor Khan replied “Why can we not play the World Cup in our countries”. Salve added ” why not both in India and Pakistan together”. This was a light-hearted conversation but sowed the seeds. Pak official persisted on the idea which then gradually picked on.

The author gives one many insights into political economy of International Cricket and cricket administration in India.

  • How the rules of ICC gave veto powers to England and Australia and it was near impossible to get through them. Even the mere thought of hosting  the world cup in India was seen as a crime, leave proposing it.
  • Even more incredible is how India and Pakistan authorities combined to bring World Cup to Asia by some really careful planning and strategising. This was done at the backdrop of an impending war. It is one of those rare incidents of bonhomie between the two countries.
  • How they ended up choosing Reliance as a sponsor as the multinationals were not really interested. The impetus shown by Reliance to host the event is also some story.
  • There was huge political support to host the cup in India. The Government made special arrangements to give foreign exchange  for the event of GBP 1.8 million (remember it was 1987 and forex assets was limited and highly precious).

The stand-out is the way Indo-Pak combined to break the hegemony of English and Aussies in cricket. This blog had earlier pointed to this excellent interview of Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards. He said they did reflect on the UN model of security council to propose recent changes in ICC. Well, ICC always did work like UN with veto powers held by UK and Aus. It was this break-up of cricket security council which others managed backing India and Pakistan for hosting the WC. Infact, this reorganisation of ICC around India now is like coming full circle with India taking charge. India has always dominated ICC proceedings for a long time  (perhaps it started after WC 1987) and this was just something waiting to happen. The BCCI managed to break the hegemony then but has become a hegemon itself. What an amazing turnaround of history.

BCCI was the richest board even then but still it took quite an effort to convince that Indo-Pak could host the WC in India. There were all kinds of issues raised over financial resources, infrastructure,  Indo-Pak combine etc. But all were defended interestingly.

How did BCCI manage to convince others? Well, it simply promised more money to members and players than what UK was offering. This was done by considerable planning making sure all are happy. And then all the members united to break the duopoly of Eng-Aus combine.

Overall, an amazing book which shows  how the shift of cricket superpower centre happened from UK to India. UK saw one more such shift as US economy took over the UK in early 1900s.  India has since then hosted two m0re world cups and has become the numero uno of cricketing world. If the ICC did not make changes to rotate the world cup across members, perhaps most might have been hosted in India given the huge base and following. The economics of cricket work out great in India and there are no parallels.

But then this also set-up the other kind of negative things one sees in cricket in India. The scams and fixing episodes have multiplied many times and there is no end in sight. What started with breaking the hegemony has become an interesting case of greed and corruption. How does one put end to all this?

At such times, it is really useful to reflect on such historical events. It gives one perspective on where we have gone wrong.

A really interesting book..

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6 Responses to “How Indo-Pak ended up hosting the 1987 World Cup Cricket?”

  1. Parnil Says:

    Hi Amol, great blog. Do you know where I could get a copy? The link on amazon prices it at $9,999. 🙂

  2. Amol Agrawal Says:

    Will have to try in libraries…I did check out the web and could not find except amazon offer at your mentioned price…:-)

  3. econ neel Says:

    Congratulation Amol…………………..

    Really enjoyed coming to this place for last 3 years.

    Regards,
    Anil

  4. Vaibhav Says:

    Really good blog with varied coverage Amol. Keep it up

  5. Amol Agrawal Says:

    thanks vaibhav for the encouragement.

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