Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The man who brought colours to cricket

In 1976, the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) turned down Kerry Packer's offer for broadcasting international cricket in Australia. Packer was the owner of Nine News Networks. What followed was to change cricket forever.

Disheartened, Packer decided to start a rebel league by signing international players like Tony Greig of England, Greg Chappel of Australia and player from West Indies and Pakistan. Revolutionary changes were brought to the game. Floodlights, drop in pitches, helmets, white balls and coloured clothing were used; all these were unheard of in cricket.

Players from Pakistan and Australia were banned by their national boards, whereas those from West Indies, South Africa, England and New Zealand were kept in the national side. The ACB's stance of no tolerance was shaken, and they were forced to make a compromise in 1979, granting the rights to Packer's Nine News network.

In the backdrop of the pact between the two sides, Australia hosted the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup in November 1979, inviting West Indies and England teams to participate. This was the first 'recognized' international cricket series to feature coloured apparel and day/night matches. Hence, Australia became the first nation to introduce coloured apparel in one-day cricket. 

Later, the 1992 Benson & Hedges World Cup, also held in Australia, was the first World Cup to feature coloured clothing. Many countries followed suit and started organizing day/night ODIs which featured coloured clothing and floodlights. Finally, in December 2000, the last ODI featuring white flannels was played. Hence what carries on till today, is the legacy of the Great Kerry Packer.