What was World Series Cricket?

World Series Cricket (WSC) was an independent professional cricket tournament set up by Australian media mogul Kerry Packer to directly rival established international cricket. In 1976, Packer sought to exclusive broadcasting rights to Test and Sheffield Shield cricket in Australia for his commercial, free-to-air television network, Channel Nine. However, his bid of A$1.5 million was dismissed by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) in favour of a bid of just A$210,000 by the existing contract holder, the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Incessed, Packer secretly recruited dozens of the leading players in the world, including Tony Greig,

Greg Chappell and Clive Lloyd, the captains of England, Australia and West Indies, respectively, to play a series of ‘Supertests’ and a one-day series, dubbed the ‘International Cup’, on Channel Nine. Players’ pay had been a major cause of dissatisfaction, especially in Australia, but Packer attracted the crème de la crème of world cricket by offering salaries in the region of A$30,000 for a three-year contracted. He later described cricket as ‘the easiest sport in the world to take over’, adding, ‘nobody bothered to pay the players what they were worth’.

Players signing up for the ‘Packer Circus’, as WSC was dubbed by the press, were initially banned from playing any match under the auspices of the International Cricket Council (ICC). However, following the 1978/79 Ashes series, in which England thrashed a vastly-depleted Australia team 5-1, public outcry for a settlement between the parties involved become irresistibly loud. The establishment effectively raised the white flag to WSC, the ACB granted Channel Nine the rights to televise cricket in Australia from 1979/80 onwards and the ‘rebel’ players returned to their respective countries.

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