When you talk about sports in India, the first sport that comes to mind is cricket. Cricket is beyond popular in India. It’s more of a fanaticism. More the reason why it’s not surprising that cricket draws in 93% of all sports viewers in India.
Many Indians even go so far as to plan their weekend activities, travel plans and even jobs according to the Indian cricket team's schedule.
But why is cricket such a popular sport in India, and why does it enjoy a much larger fanbase than the internationally popular football, or national sports like kabaddi or field hockey?
Here are some of the main reasons that explain the popularity of cricket in India -
1. Cricket is easy to play
Granted, cricket is not as easy to get started playing as, say, football, which only requires a ball and can be played alone. Cricket does have a few other equipment requirements and is best played with at least 1 friend.
However, despite these challenges, cricket is still a relatively easy game to get started playing, and the creativity of young people in India means that they always find a way to play.
This is why you often see kids playing street cricket using anything from rusty metal pipes to ragged old tennis balls. The simplicity of the sport makes it a visible sight even in the smallest roads and streets of India.
In fact, most of the popular cricket stars of today got into cricket by playing on the streets.
2. India has great cricket infrastructure
India boasts of several cricket training and coaching centres, where both kids and adults can practice and learn cricket.
You will find at least one cricket stadium in every town of India. Most stadiums provide good facilities and international standard coaching.
The high availability of cricket training and coaching centres is a huge reason behind the popularity of cricket in India.
3. Cricket is an incredibly lucrative business
Cricket enjoys massive media coverage in India. All cricket tournaments are extensively covered in both digital, televised, and print media.
Whenever there is a cricket match cricket becomes the central theme of most commercial advertisements.
As a result of this enormous coverage, cricketers and cricket clubs have attracted a wide range of sponsors and advertisements. Many cricket players have made huge fortunes for themselves by endorsing several products and by appearing in numerous commercials.
For this reason, cricket is big business in India, and pro cricket players are able to enjoy a more luxurious lifestyle than other sportsmen in India, which is also a benefitting factor as to why cricket has become so popular in India.
Many young Indian boys experience the wealth and the luxurious lifestyle of cricket players on TV, and this motivates them to become cricket players themselves.
4. Online cricket betting
Online cricket betting has provided a massive boost to the popularity of cricket in India, but why?
Cricket betting is a way for the common man to engage with the sport and, in his hopes, make some money and benefit from the sport.
As such, cricket betting creates a way for people to be even more engaged in the game, and this has boosted the popularity of cricket in a great way.
Between 80% to 90% of all sports bets in India are placed on cricket. This can be attributed to the large number of cricket betting sites available in India that have opened their doors to Indian punters in the last few years.
By all accounts, cricket will continue to be the most popular sport in India for the foreseeable future, as there are no other sports that are even remotely close to the same level of popularity.