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.
Table 2. Cities with populations in excess of two million people. Eight candidate sites for the World Cricket League starred.
Source: Th. Brinkhoff: Principal Agglomerations and Cities of the World, http://www.citypopulation.de, 4.6.00
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:
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.
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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