Friday, December 30, 2005

Remembering Kerry Packer – “The Big Boy who Played at Night”

Kerry Packer, Australia’s richest man and cricket’s first (and last) great revolutionary died this week. He was 68. Packer was a larger than life figure, an inveterate gambler, who for a brief moment in the mid 70’s stood the cricketing world on its head and ushered in a completely different version of the game.

The rift between Packer and the cricketing establishment started when Packer was rebuffed by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) for the Test and domestic cricket broadcast rights. Although he had offered more money than any of the other competing Australian networks, the ACB ended up giving the rights to the state owned Australian Broadcast Corp (ABC).

To get back at the ACB he started his own league, the World Series of Cricket (WSC) and succeeded in enticing the cream of global cricketing talent to turn their backs on their home countries and play for him instead.

Packers impact on the current version of the game is felt to this day. Here are some of his key innovations: Packer noticed that ratings were better in the evenings so he created the day night game. In order to do this he introduced the white ball (much easier to see at night than the red), he introduced floodlights, to spice things up he got the different teams in his league to wear color clothing and hence “pajama cricket” was born


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