The World Series Cricket is perhaps the most brutal disruption cricket witnessed so far. This incident that happened back in 1976 to 1977 is among the major reason cricketers has handsome payments today. Back in 70s and before it, cricket was just taking off as a global sport. The financial side of the game was only beginning to bloom. In those times, players were paid less even if they enjoyed considerable stardom. It was this leeway that Kerry Packer utilized to contrive the strongest disruption in history of the game. In his own words, cricket is the “easiest sport in the world to take over” and “nobody bothered to pay the players what they were worth.”
Kerry Pecker said, nobody bothered to pay cricketers what they were worth.
Packer was trying to enter the cricket broadcasting enterprise of Australia being the media giant, Channel Nine owner. At those times, only Australian Broadcasting Corporation had the authority to broadcast cricket on television. The company was enjoying a monopoly as token of its closeness to Australian Cricket Board. Packer was not allowed in enter the vertical as the cricket board turned down his offer even if his offer was more profitable than ABC. Packer, an able businessman was not allowed to walk on the path he wanted, so he created his own.
On target were the top players of the game. Packer approached each of them with attractive monetary offers to play for his own tournament. This meant, players turning away from ICC tournaments creating a parallel platform for world cricket and to earn much more than before. This was World Cricket Series that featured the best cricketers of the world. It was broadcasted only on Channel Nine, receiving a groundbreaking support from audience all over the globe. All top cricketers of the times; Ian Chappell, Tony Greig, Imran Khan, Greg Chappell, Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, and many more were in the tournament. More importantly, all of team Australia and West Indies were on board. Also, half of England’s Test player, several players of Pakistan and a single player for New Zealand were in the series. The only country that did not have a single player was India.
The World Series tournament was played for two seasons, the first in 1977-78, and the next in 1978-79. These events wreaked a tumult in ICC, while Cricket boards in West Indies, Australia, England, and Pakistan were completely disarranged. Packer’s craft was the execution of the ‘convincing’ or recruitment process of players without the slightest inkling to their respective cricket boards. An independent entity took away all they had, right from under their noses. The episode did not end here. Australia and England along with ICC started a legal battle against Packer. But the latter won the case under London High Court, while the formers paid heftily as legal fees.
Greg Chappell never returned to cricket again after playing the series, he became a permanent anchor of Channel Nine.
Finally, players were banned from their respective boards and were disallowed from any form of cricket under the ambit of national boards and ICC. Pecker won an exclusive broadcasting rights with ten years of free promotion and marketing. While, players returned to their own teams with sour relationships with their respective boards as well as other fellow players who were left behind. However, it became the turning point for players in their financial side, because boards increased their pay as they deserved according to their own rules and capacity.
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