What is pyjama cricket in the sport of cricket?

Pyjama cricket is a derogatory term used for One Day International cricket matches. These matches are professional cricket tournaments played for one day between two sides. Each side bats for an innings of 50 overs. The side scoring most runs wins the match. A conventional 50-over match lasts approximately 8 hours.

At the turn of the 20th century, cricket saw a huge reform in terms of viewership. This could largely be attributed to the developments that took place in the game in the late 1970s. In 1971, the first One Day International match was held between Australia and England. Furthermore, this was a 40-over match that was played to make-up for abandoned test match. Initially, an ODI match could last 40 overs or 55 overs. Some countries followed the 60-over format which was also implemented in World Cups. But by 1985, these matches were standardized to 50 overs. In 1996, England’s implementation of the 50-over format made One Day Internationals synonymous to 50-over cricket.

ODI cricket in its early days was played by the same red balls and white kits that the players wore in test cricket. But the improvement in broadcast and the advancement in color television was a breakthrough in media. Kerry Packer, a media tycoon, pounced upon the opportunity of multiplying cricket’s commercial value. He established the World Series Cricket and signed the biggest players in the world. In the process, he also made cricket a sport through which cricketers could earn handsomely.

Packer’s ideas were not restricted to the financial aspect of the players. Constant rifts, tussles and court battles with the International Cricket Council, Test and County Cricket Club and Australian Cricket Board, led Packer develop a string of innovations that are prevalent even today. Packer replaced white clothing with color clothing, red ball with white ball for ODIs, dark sight screens, drop-in pitches and protective equipment for batters. After securing exclusive media rights, the World Series Cricket attracted great viewership.

When cricketers were seen playing on the television, the colored clothing was seen for the first time. This led to the rival organizations of the World Series Cricket dub the game as “pyjama cricket.” But the intended derogatory phrase soon turned the tables as Packer secured a 10-year broadcast deal with Channel 9.

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