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banner Saturday, 26 May, 2001, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Packer's one-day revolution
Kerry Packer
Packer: Changed the face of cricket
BBC Sport Online's Peter Sanderson remembers Kerry Packer - the man who helped deliver one-day cricket to the world.

Not since Kerry Packer's breakaway circus has the cricket world been hit harder than the recent betting scandal.

From the outside, the sport's latest dilemma appears to be ripping the heart out of what was once a game applauded for its graciousness and chivalry.

However, just as the Packer revolution uncompromisingly hauled cricket into the 20th century, perhaps the sport and its players will one day benefit from its latest chapter of controversies once the storm has past over.

  Some of Packer's players
Derek Underwood
Imran Khan
Clive Lloyd
Graeme Pollock
Rodney Marsh
Viv Richards

Over 20 years after the Packer affair first shook cricket, the ructions continue to shape the game.

It was Packer, a media mogul who had played very little cricket in his time, who delivered one-day cricket to the sporting world.

He believed if cricket was to succeed as a television sport, the one-day game was the only way to sell cricket to the world.

A charismatic businessman, Packer changed the game forever in 1977, signing more than 50 of the world's best cricketers to take part in a television-driven competition which was in direct conflict with establishment cricket.

His revolution threatened to split the game in two, and when a compromise was eventually reached between Packer and the authorities, cricket was given a complete overhaul and transformed into a professional game.

The whole argument came down to television rights.

Originally, Packer had made a $500,000 bid to televise international cricket played in Australia on behalf of Channel Nine.

He never interfered with cricket. We were quite wrong about him and he has added another dimension to the game
  Former New Zealand international Jack Kerr

He was turned down by the Australian Cricket Board who instead sold the rights to ABC for significantly less money.

Having never been given the chance to negotiate Packer was left fuming.

However, he would soon have his own bargaining tool.

A number of Australian internationals had become disillusioned by their low salaries and Packer was aware that his television money would provide the perfect answer to their financial problems.

He eventually got his revenge two years on, secretly signing the players to contracts and creating his own tournament called World Series Cricket.

Those who signed may have reaped the financial reward but sadly they paid a heavy price for their decision to quit the cricket authorities, receiving a ban from their national teams.

After various legal battles, Packer was given his television rights, declaring: "Cricket is going to get revolutionised whether they like it or not. There is nothing they can do to stop me. Not a god damn thing,"

The Packer revolution had begun and the changes staggered cricket's band of traditionalists.

Out went the whites and in came fiercely coloured kits. As Test match crowds fell, while one-day cricket - a game only seen in domestic cricket in England - exploded in the popularity stakes as did his brave experimentation with day-night cricket.

Windies bowling kings
Windies attack began during the Packer revolution

As with most changes to the conventional game, his novelty ideas were laughed off by many of the cricket boards.

However, 20 years on, cricket stars are finally singing Packer's praises.

Former New Zealand international Jack Kerr has admitted that the media magnate's innovative ideas have helped cricket remain popular with the masses.

"You have to give all due credit to Kerry Packer," said Kerr.

"He never interfered with cricket. We were quite wrong about him and he has added another dimension to the game.

"What he did definitely has a place. I think he revived county cricket. As far back as 1937 I thought they couldn't carry on forever the way they were going."

Let's hope the betting scandal scarring the contemporary game can have equally positive repercussions.

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