Brand Value of Indian Cricket: An Opportunity for Uzbekistan

08 July 2024   

Tashkent, Uzbekistan ( -- India won the men’s Cricket World Cup on Saturday, defeating South Africa to end a dry spell in tournament victories that had lasted over a decade. contributor and a destination for the world’s best players. The tournament was played across several Caribbean islands, with a few of the matches hosted in the United States, including at a pop-up stadium in New York. Cricket is a crucial part of India’s global brand, perhaps even more important than the country’s film industry. 

The governing body of cricket in India is the richest sporting body worldwide. In an indication of how cash-rich India’s cricket is, Jay Shah, the secretary for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), announced on Sunday about US$15 million in bonuses for the winning players and support staff. That is in addition to the roughly US$2.5 million winner’s prize that comes with the trophy.


The IPL has transcended traditional sports norms to become a global phenomenon. Since its inaugural season, the league has garnered immense support from its fervent fan base and the players alike, showcasing elite talent and enthusiasm.  Evolving into a powerhouse of entertainment and intense competition, the IPL has inspired many cricket leagues worldwide, including the latest T10 and T20 leagues, even extending its influence to the USA.  As the Cricket World Cup made its debut on American shores, there has been a surge in cricket’s popularity in North America, with the IPL being cricket’s version of the National Football League (NFL), poised to capture the attention of the world’s largest sports economy like never before. 


The start of the Indian Premier League in 2007 transformed a sport that was once seen as slow and short of cash. According to a study carried out by a British Investment Firm Houlihan Lokey, the league’s business value has surpassed US$16 billion, making it among the richest sports leagues in the world. Players routinely earn contracts worth over US$1 million for a season that lasts about eight weeks, with some of the highest-paid bagging close to US$3 million. 


India has also sought to share the sport’s riches with its female players and is a leader in efforts to make careers in team sports viable for women. Last year, India launched Women’s Premier League, with US$500 million- an investment similar to the one that started the men’s league, and is already expanding opportunity for women in India and for talent from around the world. The league’s wealth has meant more investment at the grass roots to develop more players. Female players are now finding brand endorsements, more TV viewers and thousands showing up for their matches at stadiums. The foreign players in both the leagues, all with large followings at home, are a public relations boost for India as they travel around to play, using social media to post admiration for the culture of a vastly diverse country.


Lately, cricket has been gaining popularity in Uzbekistan. First played in the country in 1997, the Cricket Federation of Uzbekistan (CFU), a private body was set up in Uzbekistan in 2019. Indian residents in Uzbekistan began organising regular intra-organisational cricket games with the cricket team of CFU. Presently there are more than 2000 players from various regions of Uzbekistan, playing the game in the club format. In March 2021, the Cricket Federation of Uzbekistan announced the launch of Uzbekistan Premier League, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, Uzbekistan started the construction of its first official cricket stadium in Tashkent. On 26 July 2022, Uzbekistan became an Associate member of the ICC along with Cambodia and Ivory Coast. 


There is immense potential for developing Uzbekistan as the preferred cricketing destination to hold the IPL format cricketing tournaments. The accessibility from the Indian subcontinent is extremely good with daily flights from most Asian cricketing countries. The historical and cultural affinity between India and Uzbekistan is another factor that brings record number of Indian tourists to this silk-road destination. 


Cricket, Bollywood and Tourism is a heady mix that can attract cricketing enthusiasts who would love to travel across the rich historical landscape of Uzbekistan to include Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva. This would not only help develop Uzbekistan as a cricketing destination but also be of immense benefit to the economy of Uzbekistan. The recent IPL world cup held at USA and the West Indies is an astute example of a clear understanding of the impact of the game of cricket on the sports economy of a nation. For Uzbekistan, with a little bit of imagination- sky is the limit!

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