It's the season of the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 and the FIFA World Cup 2022 - two global events of two of the most widely celebrated sports.
Although football is unparalleled as far as worldwide fame is concerned, cricket has also gained massive popularity in some countries, especially in the Indian subcontinent, over the last century. What are the key differences between the two sports? The known facts - a football game takes just 90 minutes, whereas a cricket game is divided into three formats, the longest one being 5 days long with approximately 6 hours of play per day, and the shortest one taking just 4 hours. The question arises, which one is the better sport?
In terms of popularity, football is ahead without a doubt. According to worldpopulationreview.com, Football and Cricket, the two most followed sports in the world, have 3.5 billion and 2.5 billion followers, respectively. If we compare the games using music genres as a reference, football would be equivalent to folk music, and cricket would be Indian classical.
Folk is the most ancient genre of music, and football is the older game between the two, as it officially came into existence more than half a century earlier than cricket.
If we talk in the context of subcontinental music, folk has its audience everywhere. From the commoners to the elite class, the folk audience is found among every group. Once you start listening to it, folk is not very difficult to understand.
Every country has its folk music, and similarly, football owns most of the country's sports culture.
Classical music has its grammar and is not very easily understandable; thus, not everyone can enjoy the purest form of classical music by understanding it.
Likewise, the rules and regulations of cricket are many. Runs, boundaries, each and every LBW, and No-ball rules are not easily understandable for all; many of them still need to be fully understood by some cricket analysts themselves, e.g. the calculation of the Duckworth-Lewis method.
In Indian classical music, every quality of the voice and musical sense is tested, which is pretty similar to Test cricket as in this game format, everything, including the skills, patience, endurance, and intelligence of every individual, is properly tested.
Why is cricket not as popular as football, then? The 'comparatively easy to understand' property and the intensity in a very short time make football and folk music lovable and enjoyable to everyone.
On the other hand, since both classical music and cricket require a broader knowledge of grammar and basics, respectively, and the number of rules and regulations is much higher, only a few people among all classes enjoy them with proper understanding.
However, to make cricket more acceptable to the common people, the 50-over and the 20-over formats have been introduced since the 1970s and 2000s, respectively.
The introduction of the shorter formats to cricket can be compared to the addition of western instruments like the electric guitar and piano to Indian classical music.
In fact, the newly proposed T10 or The Hundred formats are comparable to a mixture of EDM and Indian classical music, which makes no sense.
In short, football requires no update to itself to be a popular game. With some changes, cricket can be made popular, many of which are already existent; but the changes should be limited to keep the basics of the game intact.
One game offers more intensity in a short period, while the other is a procedure of testing every aspect of each player for a longer period. One is comparatively easy to understand and, thus, is easily enjoyable. In contrast, the other can be fully enjoyed by understanding a comparatively more complex set of rules.
Which one is better - is a question that only depends on the personal preference of the fans.