Who is India's best T20 batsman

So now I'm going to tell you the latest episode of India's longest running soap opera, and maybe the world's longest-running soap opera, namely Cricket. May it go on forever because it gives people like me a job. This game has everything you would want to see in a normal soap opera. There is love, joy, happiness, sadness, tears, laughter, a lot of deceit and intrigue. And like all good soap operas, it takes a 20 year leap if the audience's interest changes. And that's exactly what happened in cricket. It took a leap of 20 years and the 20 overs game was introduced. That's exactly what I'm going to talk about now; how a small change led to a very big revolution.

But it wasn't always like that. Cricket has not always been that speed-driven game as we all know it today. There was a time when cricket played endless test matches. You played until the game was over. In March 1939 there was this game, which started on March 3rd and ended on March 14th. The game only ended because the English cricket team had to travel from Durban to Cape Town, a two-hour train ride to get the ship that left port on May 17th, as it was not known when the next ship would leave. So the game ended in the middle. And one of the English batsmen said, "You know what? Another half hour and we would have won." (Laughter) Another half hour after 12 days of play. Two Sundays were within the playing time. But people went to church on Sundays. So there was no play on Sundays. And one day it rained. So they all sat together and made friends with each other.

But there's a reason India fell in love with cricket. Because India had the same rhythm of life. (Laughter) The Mahabharata is built like that too, isn't it? During the day there was fighting and when the sun went down everyone went home. Then a strategy was worked out and the next day it continued until it was time to go home again. The only difference between the "Mahabharata" and our cricket was that in cricket everyone stayed alive and could play again the next day. Princes supported the game, not because they loved the game, but because it was a means of popularizing the British colonial rulers.

But there is another reason India fell in love with cricket, all it takes is a wooden board and a rubber ball, and anyone can play the game anywhere. Take a look at it. You could play it on the dump with a few stones. You could play it in small alleys where you couldn't hit angled balls because the racket would hit the wall. Also think about the air conditioning and electrical cables. (Laughter) You could play it on the banks of the Ganges. The Ganges has not been so clean in a long time. Or you could play many games on a small piece of land, even if you soon no longer knew which game you were playing yourself. (Loud laughter) As you can see, it can be played anywhere. But the game finally moved slowly.

You don't always have 5 days. So changes came and we started playing 50 overs cricket. And then something big happened. In Indian sport we don't let things happen consciously. Things happen and sometimes we're in the right place at the right time. And so we won the world championship in 1983. And suddenly we were fascinated by 50-overs cricket. And played it practically every day. People were playing 50-overs cricket everywhere.

But there is another important date. In 1983 we won the world championship. In 1991-92 we had a finance minister and a prime minister willing to have the world look to India instead of just being a great land of intrigue and secrecy in a limited area. We let multinational companies come to India. We reduced the customs fees. Multinational firms came with multinational budgets, looked at per capita income and got really excited about all the opportunities India offered them. So they looked for a means by which they could reach every Indian.

In India there are only two remedies: a real one and one that is in the scripts. What is in the scripts can be seen in the films. The real resource was cricket. One of my friends sitting in the front, Ravi Tarival from Pepsi, decided to get the game known all over the world. Pepsi started this great revolution because they made cricket popular everywhere. And that's how cricket got big. Rich people came to the country through cricket. Television started broadcasting cricket games. For a long time they said, "We won't broadcast the cricket games until you pay us to do it." And then they said, "Okay, the next right was sold for $ 55 million. The next right was sold for $ 612 million. That's quite an increase.

And then great things happened again in cricket. England introduced the 20 overs game (T20) saying: "The world has to play T20 cricket." It was like England invented the game of cricket and got the whole world to play it. Thank God! (Laughter) And so India had to play in the T20 World Cup. But India did not want to play in the T20 World Cup. But we were forced to play due to an 8-1 majority vote. And then something very dramatic happened. We got to the finals and that moment will stay in people's minds forever. Look at that.

The Pakistani batsman tries to pass the field player.

Sports reporter: And Zishan gets it! India wins! What a T20 world championship final. India is world champion. (Cheers) India is T20 world champion. What kind of game was that, M.S. Dhoni hit him well in the air, but Misbah-ul-Haq, what a player. A great, great success. India, the T20 world champions.

Harsha Bhogle: India suddenly discovered the power of T20 cricket. The great thing, of course, was that the batsman thought the thrower was going to throw quickly. (Laughter) If the thrower had thrown quickly, the ball would have gone where it was supposed to go, but it wasn't like that. And suddenly we discovered that we could be good at this game. And what else it had done was that it led to a kind of pride that Indians could be the best in the world. At that time, all the investors came into the country. India had gained a little more confidence about it. There was a sense of great pride in what we can achieve. And luckily for all of us, the English were good at inventing things. Also, they are very gracious people who make the world very good at these things. (Loud laughter) So England invented T20 cricket and allowed India to claim it. It wasn't like we created something new like in medicine, we took it as it is. (Laughter)

And so we started our own T20 leagues. Within 6 weeks each city was playing against each other. That was new to us. Until then, we had only supported our country. The two things in their country that the Indians were very proud of happened in the field. One was war, the Indian army, but we don't really like it when it comes to that. The other was Indian cricket. Now we suddenly had to support the urban leagues. But people got used to these urbanites and thus followed the example of Western countries. The USA is the Mecca of leagues. And so they said, "Okay, we're going to create some great leagues in India." But was India ready for this? Because cricket was actually always organized in India. It was never pumped. It was never sold, it was organized. And see what they did with our beautiful, nice and very familiar game. Suddenly one was witness of these things.

An opening ceremony like any other. This India now bought Corvettes. This India now bought jaguars. In this India, the number of cell phones increased by twice the number of New Zealand residents per month. Suddenly it was a different India. But it was also a somewhat more orthodox India that was very happy to be modern but actually didn't want to admit it. And so they were upset when the cheerleaders arrived. Everyone watched them secretly, but no one admitted it.

The new owners of Indian cricket were no longer the princes of the time. It wasn't bureaucrats who were forced into this sport, but who actually didn't like it at all. These were people who ran big companies. They started sponsoring cricket on a grand scale. They started sponsoring the clubs in a big way. They started spending huge sums on cricket. The IPL (Indian First League) had $ 2.3 billion before the first ball was thrown. $ 1.6 billion in sales for 10 years of television coverage and another $ 70 million from all of these cricket sponsored franchises. And now they had to get the cities excited about it. Did they really have to do like the West just because they founded leagues? But they did their thing well by adapting it to India. Just to give an example of how they do it: It wasn't advertising like Manchester United, it was Mumbai. Check it out for yourself.

Of course, some said: maybe they dance better than they play. (Laughter) But that's fine. But it has also changed the way we view cricket. Whenever they wanted a young cricketer, they went down the streets of India, to their own cities, and picked one. They took great pride in finding new cricket talent in this way. But suddenly everything changed. If they had one pitcher too short, for example Mumbai had one pitcher too little, they no longer had to go to Kalbadevi or Shivaji Park or go anywhere else to find someone, they could go to Trinidad. Was that the new India? That was another world where you could get players from anywhere, as long as you got the best player for the best price. Suddenly, Indian sport woke up and saw the reality that you can get the best product for the best price anywhere in the world.

The Mumbai Indians had Dwayne Bravo flown in from Trinidad and Tobago overnight.And when he had to go back to play for the West Indies, they asked him, "When do you have to be there?" He said, "I have to be there by a certain time, so I have to leave today." They said, "No, no, no. It's not about when you have to go, but when you have to be there." And so he said: "I have to be there on day X." And they said, "Okay, you play for us until the day before day X." So he played in Hyderabad and immediately after the game, still from the stadium, went to Hyderabad airport and got on a private jet. First the tank was refilled in Portugal, then in Brazil. He was back on time in the West Indies. (Laughter) India had never thought on such a scale before. India would never have said, "I want a player to play a game for me and I'll take a private jet to get them back to Kingston, Jamaica, to play a game there." And then I thought to myself: "Wow, we really have come to something. We have really achieved something. We are now thinking in other dimensions."

These events also made it possible to combine two important things in Indian cricket: namely cricket and Indian film. There was cricket and the Indian film. They got united because people in the movies started to have their own clubs. And so people started going to a cricket game to see Preity Zinta. They also went to cricket to see Shahrukh Khan. And so something very interesting happened. Songs and dance found their way into Indian cricket. And gradually it became more and more similar to the Indian films. And of course if you were on Preity Zinta's team, as you will see in the following film excerpt, and played well, you would be hugged by Preity Zinta. That was ultimately the reason to play well. Take a look at it. Everyone looks at Preity Zinta.

And then Shahrukh Khan, who cheered the audience in Calcutta. We'd all seen games in Calcutta, but we'd never seen anything like it. Shahrukh Khan cheered the audience with a Bengali song - for Calcutta, not for India, but for Calcutta. But see for yourself.

An Indian movie star hugs a Pakistani cricketer for winning in Calcutta. Can you imagine that? And do you know what the Pakistani cricketer said? (Applause) I wish I would play for Preity Zinta's team.

I figured I'd take the opportunity - there are some people from Pakistan here. I am so happy that you are here because I think we can show that we can be together as friends. We play cricket together, we can be friends. So thank you very much to everyone from Pakistan who came today.

But there was also criticism, as they asked, "Players are bought and sold? Are they grain? Are they cattle?" Because we had this auction. How do you set a price for a player? And at the auction that followed, people literally said: Zack! So and so many millions of dollars for the player. Look at it.

Auctioneer: Sold for $ 1.5 million. Chennai. Shane Warne sells for $ 450,000.

HB: A game that gave its players 50 rubies a day - so 250 rubies for a test match, but if the game only ended after 4 days there were only 200. For the best Indian players who did each test match, any of the international ones Players, the best of the best - standard contracts for $ 220,000 annually. Now they got $ 500,000 for 6 days of work. Then came Andrew Flintoff of England, made $ 1.5 million, went back and said, "In 4 weeks I'll make more than Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, I'll make more than the footballers, wow." And where did the money come from? From a small association in India. Could you imagine that day would come? $ 1.5 million for 6 weeks of work. That's not bad, is it?

So $ 2.3 billion before the first ball was thrown. What India did: They faced the best players in the world and India became a big brand. Lalit Modi featured on the cover of Business Today. The IPL became the biggest brand in India and because of our elections it had to be moved to South Africa and we had to get the tournament up and running within three weeks. Bring an entire tournament to South Africa in 3 weeks. But we did it. And do you know why? Because no other country works as slowly as we do until three weeks before the event and nobody works as hard as we have in the last three weeks.

Our population, which we have long considered a problem, suddenly became our greatest asset as more people were watching - the huge consumer class - everyone came to watch cricket. We also made cricket the national sport in India, which is a shame, but every other sport in India supports cricket so it's becoming even more popular - and that's a bit of the tragedy of today.

Before I go, I would like to share a few side effects of these events with you. For a long time India was a country full of poverty, dust, beggars, snake charmers, filth, just typical India - people heard these typical Indian stories before they came to the country. But suddenly India was a land of opportunity. Cricketers from all over the world said, "We love India and we love to play in India." And that was good. We said, "The dollar is actually very powerful." Can you imagine having the dollar in front of your eyes and no longer the typical India? There is no filth. There are no beggars. All the snake charmers have disappeared. Nobody is there anymore. That shows us how the capitalist world works.

So at the end of the day, an English game that India has taken over a little, but the T20 game is going to be the world's next missionary. If you want to make a game known in the world, it has to be the game in its shortest form. You cannot achieve anything with endless test matches that still show no result after 14 match days in China or in the rest of the world. That's what the T20 game achieved. Hopefully I've added an experience to each of you and made the game more popular, and hopefully it will give the cricket commentators a longer time to work in this business.

Thank you very much. Thanks.