Quite a few people have been suggesting that cricket is the sport of the future thanks to the obsessive interest of the 1 billion plus population of the Indian subcontintent. Last week Zee TV beat a consortium of ESPN and Star Sports (Murdoch) with a bid of $260 million for right to televise India’s home games (this amounts to probably about 7 or 8 5-day Test Matches a year plus about 20 one day games- in total about 260 days of cricket – so $1 million per day). This figure is sure to grow exponentially as India’s economy grows.
England’s series against Australia continued today with the fourth game, and demand for tickets is so great (in the light of England having the first chance of winning a series in nearly 20 years), that black market prices for the fifth game are as high as £1050 (over $1800). As usual, this is creating a kerfuffle about scalpers (in England they are called ticket touts). The cricket authorities don’t like it, because “We want to make sure that these tickets are available to the majority of cricket fans, not just the minority.” However, reading this article I discovered something I hadn’t realized before- resale of tickets for football matches in England is illegal. As you can see from this article, it has been so since 1994. The reason has to do with football hooliganism- touts sold tickets to away fans who then found themselves surrounded by home fans, with well known consequences.
The cricket authorities want to extend the law to cricket, although I have as yet seen no suggestion that Australian fans are in any danger from English fans- although their unusually poor performance is eliciting a number of jokes. Many, many years ago (about 25 I think) I went to a Test Match between England and India in Chennai (formerly Madras), and was surrounded by very loud Indian fans. They were delighted to find an Englishman to tease, and whenever an Indian batsman hit a good shot they would dance in their seats- and if an English batsman hit one they insisted that I perform likewise. I seem to recall that I had bought my ticket from a scalper.