How an investment banker thinks about cricket

By Felix Salmon
February 14, 2011
Anshu Jain -- yes, that Anshu Jain -- has filed a lovely column for Newsweek on the subject of the cricket World Cup. Even as a magazine writer, he still behaves like the investment banker he is:

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Anshu Jain — yes, that Anshu Jain — has filed a lovely column for Newsweek on the subject of the cricket World Cup. Even as a magazine writer, he still behaves like the investment banker he is:

My picks for the Cup? I’ve learned always to heed the ineffable wisdom of market pricing, and only then to essay my own view… Here are the odds at the time of writing (from Bet365.com): India, 3.75; Sri Lanka, 5.5; South Africa, 6.0; Australia, 6.5; England, 7.0; Pakistan, 8.5; and the West Indies, 21.0.

I find Australia, Pakistan, and particularly the West Indies good value at those prices…

My perhaps parochial pick is India playing Australia or Pakistan in the final.

Jain has managed to name four different teams, here, as his picks; if you take Bet365.com’s pricing, the odds of one of those four teams winning the Cup are about 59%. So, he’s not exactly going out on a limb here.

I’m also fascinated by this:

West Indians will, more than a little wistfully, recall “Super Cat” Clive Lloyd’s 102 in the inaugural cup in 1975… I doubt there’s an Indian across the spectrum of caste, age, and language who doesn’t thrill, still, to the images of a feline Kapil Dev sprinting 30 yards to catch Viv Richards and set India on course for its only World Cup win, in 1983.

Jain is old enough to remember both of those events, but it’s worth noting that most of the people in India and the West Indies weren’t even born in 1983, let alone 1975. And frankly you had to be there: those thrilling images of Kapil Dev are pretty grainy and mundane taken out of context and presented on YouTube.

But that’s sport for you. As Jain says, the World Cup will render a billion and half people agog, while the rest of the world is oblivious. Still, that’s more than enough to value the broadcasting rights at some $2 billion, and to force a large chunk of the US population to shell out $149 for the ability to watch it on DirecTV.

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