It’s said only films and cricket unite India. In terms of pan-Indian recognition and affection, even Bollywood stands second to the country’s national obsession, cricket. Cricket cuts through barriers of region and language that this cultural behemoth cannot scale. It is why in a recent survey Sachin Tendulkar scored over Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan both on visibility and a “quality” index that ranked celebrities for reflecting virtues like trustworthiness and honesty. India is probably the only country where cricket is played on every street corner. The popularity of the sport in India has translated into the fact that the business of international cricket is dependent on Indian cricket. Some estimates reckon Indian cricket economy to be worth Rs 1,000 crore a year, driving between 60 and 70 per cent of the world’s cricket business. Cricket’s boom in the 1990s was closely linked to commerce. It is now a child of satellite television and free market, not only a popular and profitable sport but a brand; a financial force that supports an entire industry made up of players, officials, sponsors, television executives, event promoters, agents and finally the consumer, who cannot get enough of this product. Today, the Indians have lost their team sponsor due to a controversial contract devised to protect the sponsors of the International Cricket Council (ICC). The ICC had to effect a compromise and amend its terms because the Indians, the big drawcard for TV audiences and advertisers, dug in their heels for two months and refused to sign the contract.Our cover story studies the turmoil and churning in the financial phenomenon that is Indian cricket. It is a multi-layered subject but one that is hardly studied in any depth. With the stakes getting higher and the World Cup around the corner, more tumult and intrigues off the field lie ahead. In a sign of the times, the story on cricket was put together by a team of four who among them cover politics, the media, business and sport. After all, today Indian cricket is not just a game.