Consuming cricket for the younger generation
According to the International Cricket Council, the IIC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 had a global cumulative average audience of 1.6 billion for live coverage, a 38% increase over the 2015 edition, a unique broadcast audience of 706 million viewers- 32% of whom were aged 18 to 34. The Guardian reported that a whopping 4.5 million Britons watched the Cricket World Cup final on Channel 4.
Emphasizing cricket’s historical and continuing appeal, it is among the top ten participation as well as spectator sports around the globe. While the majority of participants of this sport are in Asia, Australia, UK, and South Africa, it is growing in popularity among other countries around the world.
So, why and when did this sport gain such popularity worldwide?
Cricket has a long history in the UK. As the birthplace of the sport, the popularity of cricket in England goes way back to the 17th century (even if it was invented around the 13th). Once the game was introduced in the colonies in the 19th century, cricket took hold in countries all around the world.
Even though the sport has changed and updated through the centuries, the basics have remained the same. Cricket’s simplicity yet the engaging quality is one of the most fundamental reasons why it’s so popular among the youth.
Keeping it simple
To play the game, you minimally need a ball and a bat. Even with a minimum of two people, cricket can be enjoyable. Most often cricket can be enjoyed in the smallest of dimensions, as evident with children playing cricket in alleys, or as Indians call it “gully (alley) cricket”. While on a professional level, the rules and regulations can be complex, but on a play-level, all a newcomer needs to know that 1) there is a wicket on both ends 2) Both opposing sides can be distinguished between the bowling/fielding side and the batting side 3) The bowler side has to try taking the wicket, while the batsmen have to prevent it from happening. 4) a failure of a bowling player results in his or her dismissal. 5) After ten batting-side players are dismissed, both teams switch their places.
World Cricket Competitions
Winning a world championship is a sure-fire way of inspiring enthusiasm and interest of not only spectators but also a generation of young people wanting to be the next AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, or Joe Root. A trickle-down effect of seeing a favourite player or even a popular player of one’s country winning world championships can influence the younger generation to be passionate about cricket. They can encourage youth not just to watch cricket as a fan, but to play the game and pass on this passion through generations to come.
For a boost of confidence and pleasure
Cricket fans are just as, or even more passionate about the game. Science explains watching your team win in a match gives you a boost in levels of testosterone, especially if compared to experiencing a loss. Meanwhile, watching a match can also increase your dopamine levels. Dopamine is described as a ‘neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers’.
Psychologically when you watch a match with your team in it, it feels as if you are part of the game, not just as a spectator but as a player. Research shows that cells in the brain, called “mirror neurons” activate when fans watch a game. Mirror neurons help people understand the actions of others and allow people to “put themselves in others’ shoes”, i.e. feel empathy. So, when it comes to watching sports, these mirror neurons cause the spectator to internalize the actions they witness on the field and consequently feel the accompanying emotions as if they were the ones doing the actions themselves.
Therefore, in other words, this is why even when the fans are just watching their team play- seeing their batsman hit a six is as fun and exciting for them as it is for the cricketer.
While we now know why watching cricket can be just as fun, playing the sport gives people even more heightened levels of confidence and pleasure. Encouraging the young to be motivated to participate.
Cricket requires a lot of pre-game physical training. You need good physical strength to endure long-games, fielding across large cricket pitches, and throwing/hitting/catching the ball across long distances. Cricket game dynamics are such that good eye-sight and physical endurance are a must. Just like most outdoor sports, cricket is best to better the physical and mental health of anyone playing.
Social skills for life
The physical benefits of cricket as apparent as playing any other game. The social skills that are developed with this sport though are understated. Cricket is a team sport. It gives children a sense of belonging. In cricket, you have to know how to communicate with each other. Solid, life-long friendships can be established, social anxieties can be soothed, with team interaction that is required regardless of any fear or attitude.
Enjoyment above all
We all seek things we enjoy, and playing or watching cricket is no different. It might be an age-old game with a long history, but the fun and delight it brings its players and spectators is as fresh and intense as if each new championship is the first one. It has respect, resilience, and teamwork at its heart that transcends gender, race, culture, age, and ability, which explains its persevering popularity in young and adults alike.
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