Seizing the Moment: a blueprint for Reform of World Cricket Ian Preston University College London



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GDP Billion$

GDP Per Head $

INDIA

995

443

445

PAKISTAN

136

60

440

UNITED KINGDOM

58

1437

24715

SOUTH AFRICA

43

131

3033

AUSTRALIA

19

395

20695

Source: IMF

India has fifty times the population of Australia, and one fiftieth of the GDP per head. While India’s GDP and Australia’s population is rapidly growing, it seems inevitable that a large gap will remain for both measures into the foreseeable future. As things stand, cricket is sufficiently popular in Australia that one might expect that a club based in Sydney or Melbourne could generate a larger income than one based in Mumbai or Delhi. However, this need not be the case. The increasingly affluent middle class of India is several times the population of Australia and even if only the richest 2% of the population can afford to attend matches, that still gives a potential support base equal to the that of Australia. Moreover, the sale of broadcast rights for an Indian based team might well produce a large income from such an enormous hinterland.
Similar arguments can be raised in respect of Pakistan, and even South Africa, but it is our view that an international club competition cannot hope to succeed without a presence in each of these five principal cricket nations. On climatic grounds it might also seem attractive to leave the UK out of the picture, as the southern hemisphere have in the case of rugby union, but we believe that the size of the UK market makes such a strategy ultimately implausible.
The choice of locations is inevitably difficult and at this stage somewhat arbitrary. But from an analysis of city sizes it is suggested that the sites should include two from India, two from Australia, two from South Africa, one from Pakistan, either one or two from the UK and possibly one from the Caribbean9. These choices reflect not only city sizes but the intensity of support for the game. For example, it is inevitable that Australia, as the world’s strongest cricketing nation, and one of its wealthiest, and that India, as the most populous (and the country with the fewest alternative popular sports), will both have an above average number of teams. Whether the UK or South Africa should have two teams seems more debatable. The UK is a bigger market, but support is probably more intense in South Africa.

Table 2. Cities with populations in excess of two million people. Eight candidate sites for the World Cricket League starred.




World Rank

Name

Population

Country




6

Mumbai (Bombay)

17850000

India

*

14

Calcutta

12900000

India

*

16

Karachi

12100000

Pakistan

*

17

London

11800000

Great Britain

*

19

Delhi

11500000

India




34

Chennai (Madras)

6600000

India




35

Hyderabad

6500000

India




36

Lahore

6350000

Pakistan




40

Johannesburg

5700000

South Africa

*

43

Bangalore

5500000

India




62

Ahmadabad

4150000

India




68

Sydney

4050000

Australia

*

85

Pune (Poona)

3400000

India




90

Melbourne

3300000

Australia

*

94

Cape Town [Kapstadt]

3100000

South Africa

*

119

Birmingham

2600000

Great Britain




121

Rawalpindi

2600000

Pakistan




130

Lucknow

2500000

India




131

Manchester

2500000

Great Britain




134

Kanpur

2450000

India




149

Faisalabad (Lyallpur)

2250000

Pakistan




150

Surat

2250000

India




161

Jaipur

2100000

India




167

Leeds

2050000

Great Britain




169

Nagpur

2050000

India



Source: Th. Brinkhoff: Principal Agglomerations and Cities of the World, http://www.citypopulation.de, 4.6.00


(c) Format
To be successful a world league will have to offer a format that attracts spectators, in contrast with most three- or four-day domestic cricket. We think that this inevitably requires the adoption of the one-day version of the game. Games will have to be played at weekends or in the evenings when the fans can attend, but in fact many of these reforms have already been widely accepted within the cricket world. It may be possible to play the longer, more traditional, version of the game for special occasions, long holiday breaks, season openers and so on- but these would be essentially one-offs.
Matches would be played in all cricket playing areas of the world but we believe that for this to work matches played within a region will need always to involve at least one local team. While fans of Karachi may want to see their team play the stars of Australia it is doubtful whether they could they be relied upon to attend matches between, say, Sydney and Melbourne played in their city. To the extent that the teams would hire players from all over world, these might indeed include some Pakistani stars, but this could never be guaranteed and would be unlikely to compensate for the direct interest of local fans. Thus we think that a league style “home and away” format will be required
Scheduling of matches is a critical issue and one important constraint on tournament structure is climate. Cricket cannot be played properly in the rain, and it cannot be played well in extreme cold. Table 3 provides monthly climatic data for the eight cities suggested above as potential locations. Scheduling a tournament for such a diverse set of locations will inevitably be difficult. While temperature is not the main problem at most times for most of the proposed locations apart from London, it is necessary to avoid rainy seasons. Temperature considerations rule out London in the northern winter, while rainfall rules out India in the late northern summer.
Again we suggest two options:


  1. Rolling format:

It would be convenient to adopt a tournament structure that involved moving from location to location through the season. The competition could start in Australia in Nov/Dec during which time the Australian teams would play their home matches against the non-Australasian teams and their local opponents. It could then move to India/Pakistan in Jan/Feb, on to South Africa in Mar/Apr and conclude in England in May/Jun (with a possible visit to America if a Caribbean based team were included). The competition would not need to be drawn out – it could be in four concentrated spells. Perhaps there could also be playoffs and a final in London at the end. Such a scheme would minimise the otherwise massive requirement for travel. It could also encourage mobility between teams since the whole competition would travel as a bloc and joining a foreign team would not necessitate spending more time playing abroad than players for teams of their own nationality.


  1. Continuous format

An alternative format would concentrate the whole tournament into a single brief period of, say, three months. This could encourage interest in the tournament and the NFL in north America has proven that a very successful format can be played over little more than four months. Inspection of Table 3 suggests that the most reasonable prospect of uninterrupted play would be the period March, April and May, although early matches in London could be decidedly chilly and the later matches in Calcutta could be a trifle damp. Overall, however, climate need not be an obstacle to such a concentrated competition. With eight teams a schedule where each team played each of its rivals four times over the three month period would yield a 28 match schedule and a game roughly every three days, leaving time for recovery and travel. Playing squads of around twenty for each team would and a rotation system require each player to appear no more than once a week on average.





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