Why you should care
Because there’s more than one World Cup that matters.
While millions of Americans are tuning into the madness that is the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Championship, another tournament on the other side of the globe has millions more glued to their screens. Yeah, it’s time for the Cricket World Cup — it happens every four years — and it very well may be madder than the NCAA and its hardwood battles. So far, so good. Unless, of course, you’re English: The Brits are out early, extending their World Cup championship drought to … forever. At least they had South Africa, which hadn’t ever reached a semifinal, for solace. Until, you guessed it, South Africa routed Sri Lanka in the quarters, eventually losing to New Zealand in the semifinal. There won’t be a repeat for India, the reigning champs, as they were downed by Australia to set up a championship between the neighbors.
Time to pay attention, Americans: History is being made far beyond the brackets of college hoops. And here’s a good place to start.
The Rise of the Indian Premier League
Bollywood pales in comparison to the King Kong of Indian entertainment: cricket. Hell, it’s about the only television program that can stand up to the behemoth World Cup of soccer. And if it wasn’t popular enough before, cricket has gotten an injection of edge, glitz and glamour with the creation of the Indian Premier League seven years ago. It reached about 129 million homes in 2013, and is the go-to cricket destination for young’uns — credit the cheerleaders and fast-paced matches. Think of the XFL’s flair with the talent and credibility of the NFL. It’s ground zero for the age-old sport’s modernization and a business model that others, like soccer and a tag-slash-wrestling pastime called Kabaddi, are scrambling to emulate. Read more here.
A Double Century Gone
For Americans, a game that lasts multiple days is almost inconceivable. Not that we couldn’t watch Super Bowl commercials for that long, but we’re so impatient to know who wins. It would almost seem … boring. But that was the beauty of late Australian cricketeer Phil Hughes, whose electric, no-holds-barred batting style made matches that lasted five days and still ended in a draw an epic stage for dismantling the world’s best bowlers. Remember that time he scored a double century in his second match? A bowl tragically struck and killed Hughes late last year, but the Aussies continue to roll in this year’s World Cup. A championship run might just require some Hughes-esque swings for the fences. Read more here.