The ‘Godfather of Cricket’ is a title used for a person who made a significant  contribution to the development of the game. 

While Sachin Tendulkar is hailed as ‘God of Cricket’ and Virat Kohli has earned the title ‘King of Cricket’, the title ‘Godfather of Cricket’ has been associated with different individuals since the inception of the sport.

Know the different individuals who could be considered for the title Godfather of Cricket’.

Kerry Packer

Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer can be given the title Godfather of Cricket. In the late 1970s, Kerry Packer played a pivotal role in reforming the game of cricket. Widely regarded as one of Australia’s most powerful media proprietors of the 20th century, the late media tycoon gained recognition worldwide for founding World Series Cricket. It drastically changed the nature of cricket by increasing players’ salaries, triggered bidding wars and helped in popularizing the game across the globe. He was instrumental in introducing day-night cricket, coloured jerseys and limited-overs cricket. These changes helped attract young cricket fans to follow the sport. Packer also played a major role in saving the game of cricket from financial turmoil. For these reasons, Kerry Packer can be considered the Godfather of Cricket.

William Gilbert Grace 

Former English cricketer William Gilbert Grace is another prime contender for the title Godfather of Cricket. Considered to be one of England’s greatest players, William Grace played a significant role in the development of the sport. In his illustrious career, Grace scored over 54,000 first-class runs across 44 seasons from 1865 to 1908. In his time, the English cricketer captained England, Gloucestershire, the Gentlemen, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the United South of England Eleven (USEE), and numerous other teams. Known for his technical innovations and massive influence, Grace left a lasting legacy.

Don Bradman

Widely regarded as the greatest batter of all time, former Australian cricketer Sir Donald George Bradman can also be considered for the title Godfather of Cricket. During his 20-year playing career, Don Bradman scored 6,996 runs in 52 Test matches at an astonishing average of 99.94, which is often considered by some as one of the greatest achievements by any sportsperson. His legendary cricket career made him one of Australia’s acclaimed personalities and arguably the country's “first celebrity”.

Sunil Gavaskar 

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar was given the title - Godfather of Indian Cricket - by legendary West Indies cricketer Viv Richards. After making his Test debut against West Indies in 1971, Sunil Gavaskar was widely admired for his technique against fast bowling. He dominated a four-pronged West Indies’ fast bowling attack, having scored at an impressive average of 65.45. He became the first batter to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket. Gavaskar ended his legendary career with 10,122 runs in 125 Tests to be acknowledged as one of the greatest opening batters of all time.

MS Dhoni

In modern-day cricket, former India captain MS Dhoni has been given the title ‘Godfather of Team India’. After the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble retired, MS Dhoni guided the Indian cricket team to new heights in world cricket. Under his incredible leadership, Team India won the T20 World Cup in 2007. Four years later, India ended their 28-year drought to win the ICC ODI World Cup for the second time in 2011. The Men in Blue later clinched the Champions Trophy held in England and Wales in 2013. Dhoni later vacated Test captaincy at the right time to handover the mantle to Virat Kohli. While he was still an integral member in limited-overs format, he also gave up his captaincy in ODI and T20 formats for a smooth transition. Even after giving up captaincy, Dhoni guided Kohli to improve his leadership skills. After his retirement, Dhoni was named as India's mentor for T20 World Cup 2021. 

Photo credit: Alamy