Decade Review 2009

What football and basketball can teach cricket

The influx of big money into cricket in the last decade has parallels in other sports; there are lessons to be found there as well

Jayaditya Gupta

Comments: 42 | Text size: A | A
A Stoke City v Fulham football match, January 5, 2010
Cricket today is at the sort of tipping point English football experienced a decade and a half ago © AFP

Twenty years ago English football suffered arguably its worst disaster when 96 Liverpool fans died in or as a result of a stampede at the Hillsborough ground in Sheffield. The tragedy, seen in hindsight, stemmed from the public perception of football - a sport by, for and of hooligans - and the consequent reaction: hostile stadiums, hostile policing. From the debris of that disaster has arisen the most valuable, global club-based sports tournament, which has become a benchmark for the rest of the competition.

That rebirth was not accidental. Hillsborough forced the British authorities - notably the Thatcher government - to look at football in new light. The prescription came from the Taylor Commission investigating the Hillsborough tragedy: the way ahead for football, was as a family game, a more wholesome form of entertainment suitable for a weekend afternoon. That required a transformation of the football grounds from medieval human cages to modern, all-seater theatres. That in turn required money. The clubs certainly didn't have that kind of money, nor did the Football Trust, and so, in 1993, was born the Premier League and the deal with Murdoch's Sky Television that brought in the money. That brought in the stars, and as the Premiership imported talent it exported itself - first to Europe and the Americas, then to Asia and Africa.

Around the same time, the NBA was taking its first steps on the road from being seen as a domestic tournament in a quintessentially American sport to becoming a global behemoth, breaking markets that are still largely impervious to western concepts and products.

What's the connection between all this and cricket? Well, cricket today is also at a tipping point of sorts - it has a brand-new format that is not merely bringing in the big bucks but bankrolling the entire game; yet it has split the sport down the middle, becoming at once the game's salvation and the destroyer of cricket as we know it. Twenty20 is cricket's big game-changer; it has, inside two years, spawned not one but two billion-dollar tournaments, introduced a radically different notion of the teams playing those tournaments and raised the prospect of freelancer cricketers. All this in two years flat.

Yet it is clear cricket has grown all it can within the traditional parameters; its economy is maxed out and overly dependent on one country. Growth will not come from within. One of today's more thinking cricketers recently said the game needs to broadbase its finances with more foreign investment. He was speaking in the context of the IPL, but taking his theory and tweaking it leads me to this proposition: To grow, cricket needs to move into new frontiers, break new ground. It will achieve the potential offered to it by Twenty20 only if it sheds its image of being a colonial, antiquated British game played in whites, over five days with halts for lunch, tea and drinks. We know it has changed but there's a whole world out there - literally so - that does not. In short, cricket needs to go truly global.

And Twenty20 can do the trick. It is the simplest form of the game, it isn't weighed down by tradition or other archaic baggage, it is young enough to be further customised, and - crucially - it is the format of choice for younger fans even in established cricket markets. Why was it so easy for football and basketball to go global? Marketing played a huge role, of course, but two key factors are inherent in the sports themselves. One, their essential simplicity, in terms of rules and the equipment needed; and two, the high energy levels they both demand, which make them far more attractive to youth than relatively sedate cricket. Until Twenty20 came in.

If Twenty20 is the agent of change, the primary carrier will be the South Asian diaspora; it is now a truly global presence that has either the numbers or the wealth, or both, to make Twenty20 viable in some form - from TV rights or from bums on seats - almost anywhere in the world

If Twenty20 is the agent of change, the primary carrier will be the South Asian diaspora; it is now a truly global presence that has either the numbers or the wealth, or both, to make Twenty20 viable in some form - from TV rights or from bums on seats - almost anywhere in the world. Whether it's a group of locals and expats playing in a purely local tournament, or a roadshow featuring stars from the IPL and Champions League, who's to say it's not viable? An IPL XI (or two) could feature players from every single Test-playing nation, enough to draw in crowds wherever they play.

Ultimately, cricket's road to going global could lie with the Olympic Games. The sport was last played in the Olympics in 1900 but talk of re-entry started soon after the inaugural IPL season. "This is a win-win for the Olympic movement and the ICC and its members," Adam Gilchrist said at the time. "Firstly, the Olympic movement's only remaining dead pocket in the world happens to coincide with cricket's strongest - the sub continent. This region, which includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, represents just over one fifth of the world's population." Joining the Olympic movement will open up the sport to accountability, checks, balances and some sort of regulation but that would be a small price to pay for winning over the world.

Going global's the goal
The Premier League and the NBA are probably the world's two most global leagues. Football has always been the global game but the Premiership took it to the level of an interactive experience. Fans no longer had to be content merely watching their idols on television: they could watch the matches wearing their official team shirts, sitting in an appropriately themed bar or pub, paying for their entertainment with credit cards branded in their club's name. Smart marketing allows the TV viewer almost anywhere in Asia to watch more Premiership football - six-odd games every weekend, plus the cup tournaments - for next to nothing, compared to the fan in England, who pays an arm and a leg for his Sky subscription.

While the EPL's cosmopolitan nature is well documented - recently Arsenal and Portsmouth played each other in a game that featured not a single Englishman in the starting line-up - the NBA's is less so. But this is a league that went global two decades ago, riding on the phenomenon that was Michael Jordan and his starring role in two Dream Teams, the original US 1992 Olympics squad and the Chicago Bulls. It did so through a mix of luck, timing and marketing genius. In 1989, FIBA, the sport's global governing body, allowed professionals into the Olympics. That coincided with the coming together of the Dream Team, which exploded from the Barcelona Games into the consciousness of a rapidly shrinking, homogenised world, via satellite television and Nike's marketing savvy. The NBA jumped on that, exporting the phenomenon across the globe; 74 countries watched the 1990-91 NBA season but by the end of that decade the league was being shown in more than 200 countries. They'd already begun hiring talent from those countries - Argentina, Greece, Italy, central Europe - and ensured NBA loyalty in all those regions.

Finally, they went for the big one: China. The NBA's conquest of the Bamboo Curtain is one of the greatest marketing feats but it didn't happen overnight; it came about the hard way, through stealth, planning and a lot of foresight. In the 1980s the NBA looked at building interest and loyalty and offered television rights for free (right up until 1998); today, 51 broadcasters in China show NBA games. The league's relationship with China goes back several decades but the game-changer came when Yao Ming joined the NBA in 2002. Over the years the NBA ramped up its presence in China, opening local offices and retail stores, launching a Chinese-language version of its official website and, two years ago, setting up NBA China with an eye on setting up an NBA-affiliated league. Last year it even launched the reality TV show Mengniu NBA Basketball Disciple, an American show customised for China. The net result? The last NBA season was watched on TV by 1.6 billion people; the league's Chinese portal had 22 million monthly unique visitors and sites offering live streaming boasted up to half a million users for each game - and double that if Yao Ming was playing.

South African president Jacob Zuma hands the Deccan Chargers the IPL trophy, Royal Challengers Bangalore v Deccan Chargers, IPL, final, Johannesburg, May 24, 2009
Twenty20 has the right ingredients to take cricket global, and the Olympics could be the right vehicle © Associated Press

Those are numbers even the IPL and the Champions League can only dream about.

There is, however, an increasing sense that both sports have lost their soul for several handfuls of silver. There is no denying that football the world over has benefited from heavy financial investment - in England, it means a more scientific approach to the game, better diets, tactical flexibility and of course an attractability to the game's best players. Yet it has come at a high price - some would say too high. David Conn's The Beautiful Game? Searching for the soul of football is an apposite title for a book that looks at the effect of big money on the minnows - an increasing number of whom are going bankrupt and being forced into administration by simply having lived beyond their means. Higher up the food chain, the effect of big money is equally invidious. Manchester United, the biggest fish of them all, may have a committed global fan base but closer home is seen as the epitome of selling out. Its stadium is mockingly called Sold Trafford, its own supporters call the hugely successful in-house TV channel "Pravda" for the one-eyed view it offers of the club, and the trend towards an upmarket, corporate fan base led to the venerated former club captain Roy Keane calling them the "prawn sandwich" brigade.

Manchester United's real problem - one shared by the other big clubs in England and across Europe - is that success has put them on a treadmill that demands increasing success, with anything less than that adding several millions pounds to the wrong side of the balance sheet. Failure to qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League this current season will deprive Liverpool of around US$15-20 million, while failure to qualify for next season's tournament - which is a reality if it doesn't finish among the top four in the Premier League this year - could cost them around $40-45 million.

Across the pond, the higher stakes don't reduce the problems. Harvey Araton's Crashing the Borders: How Basketball Won the World and Lost Its Soul at Home tells of an NBA riven by the disconnect between players (hugely rich blacks) and spectators (hugely rich whites) and the problems stemming from that racial divide. Other observers talk of a boring sameness to every NBA season, where the battles are largely between a couple of teams - the Lakers, the Celtics, the Cavaliers - and the focus on a few overhyped stars at the cost of better, though lesser known, players.

Last February, ESPN's Bill Simmons painted an apocalyptic picture of the NBA - he called it the "No Benjamins Association" (a Benjamin being slang for a $100 bill). "For once, the league's problems have nothing to do with talent, drugs, racial issues or how the sport is being played," Simmons wrote. "With the country embroiled in its worst economic crisis in 80 years, the NBA is quietly bracing for its own little D-Day… only outsiders don't fully realise or care." It's the familiar story of overdrawn accounts and overpitched expectations, leading to empty seats, darkened corporate suites (even those who've bought suites find it cheaper to keep them empty than spend more on food and booze) and the fear of a lockout in 2011. What will keep the NBA alive is that very same lockout, which could change the way the game is administered, and the $4.7 billion TV deal it has signed through 2015-16.

A question of professionalism
Billion-dollar TV deals are meat and drink to the suits who run cricket - really run cricket. The problem is not money per se but its distribution. The excesses of the NBA haven't yet hit cricket, mainly because most national boards still don't see the kind of money an average NBA franchise deals in, but the financial disparities of football are in stark evidence - the likes of New Zealand and Bangladesh are barely surviving.

Cricket's growth path is fairly clear; there are new worlds to conquer, new markets to tap, new fans to convert. It can go it alone, as it has all these years, or it can piggyback on more established means, such as the Olympic movement

The problem for cricket, especially the new leagues, is of credibility and professionalism in administration. Ask any sports journalist whose beat includes the IPL and the Champions League, where rules and regulations are at best nebulous. The running joke is that everything is decided on Lalit Modi's BlackBerry (well, it would be a joke if the stakes weren't so high).

It's not just Modi and the IPL that appear averse to regulation. It is the Indian cricket board, the game's de facto custodians, whose typical response to any crisis - a match referee's verdict, an inconvenient anti-doping policy, the establishing of another Twenty20 league - is to raise the stakes to a level out of reach for the other parties and then begin negotiations. The men who run cricket may inspire some confidence in the markets but they inspire none among those who love the sport and view it seriously.

A sport with increasingly high stakes is more vulnerable to various forms of cheating, making close regulation even more necessary. Doping is one high-risk area, benefiting the user in two ways: it builds up muscle strength, which is more important than before in the game, reduces the effect of injury and allows a player to play more matches. Football and basketball have been reasonably free of doping but not so baseball, athletics and more power-based sports. That's why it is imperative cricket signs on to the WADA code, instead of seeing it as an infringement of the right to privacy.

The other, far more serious, form of cheating is match-fixing. Cricket has been there, done that, and you'd have thought it would automatically firewall its most lucrative format from the threat. Shamefully, that was not the case. The ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit was not handed charge of the first two seasons of the IPL; it was asked to "guide" the IPL's in-house team for the first season, and for the second, the BCCI sat on an ICC offer to provide full anti-corruption cover, mainly because the fee was too high. This despite specific warnings from top-level ICC officials about the risk of corruption in Twenty20 and the IPL in particular.

For all the criticism about how the English Premier League has become soulless and lost touch with the ordinary fan, it has functioned with transparency and efficiency, and its credibility is bolstered by the fact that it is strictly regulated - by the government, by the European Union, by UEFA, by FIFA. These regulators will decide whether Person X is fit (in the broadest sense of the word) to buy a club, whether Player Y, however junior, can break his contract with Club Z, however powerful. The EPL has grown through these checks and balances, which ensure that rules are framed and followed to cover the interests of all stakeholders.

Cricket's growth path is fairly clear; there are new worlds to conquer, new markets to tap, new fans to convert. It can go it alone, as it has all these years, or it can piggyback on more established means, such as the Olympic movement. Its revenues in the short term are assured: the billion-dollar TV deals run through the middle of this decade. The way ahead is Twenty20 but to win this game cricket needs to play a classical Test innings.

Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of Cricinfo in India


Comments: 42 
Posted by David on (January 11, 2010, 14:46 GMT)

The problem coming in is that cricket is going to be split into 2. Those that have time to watch 5 days of test cricket, (looking at how the attendance of games outside of Australia England and India Pakistan there are not many) and those who believe 20/20 is the way to go. Its all well and good to speak about tradition and history but very soon the few people who speak about this might find themselves in completely empty stadiums watching two teams score 700-4 and 825-6 over 5 days with no possibility of a result while thousands of fans flock to 20/20 matches for 3 hours during those 5 days

Posted by Madhusudhan on (January 10, 2010, 2:32 GMT)

This article shows writer is completely unaware of cricket. He is supporting IPL and Twenty20 which is big threat to Cricket.

T20 is not just another format it is subset of Test Cricket. Test Cricket is truly a gem in sports. Test Cricket is one which brings out the best from a cricketer or sports person. No sport or ODI or T20 can match with Test Cricket.

People like the writer of this article, Team India and BCCI is completely focussed on IPL. Team India lack skill, inspiration, motivation and fitness to play Test Cricket. These curators, coaches and BCCI officials are working for IPL growth rather than Cricket growth. Until IPL is thrashed Team India is not going to perform well in other tournaments. IPL is completely meaningless and obsolete Tournament. Test, ODI & T20 Cricket is great to watch between Countries unlike IPL which is between mixture teams. Test Cricket is ultimate to watch on sportive pitches. But IPL is making these pitches Lifeless.

Posted by Shyam on (January 10, 2010, 1:59 GMT)

There is no denying the high-handed nature of BCCI, but its also unfair to point fingers at them alone. Since its now agreed that T20 is the package that will sell to newer regions, it is imperative to include elements that draw these audiences into the tournaments. Yet, we see today that T20 leagues like the Australian T 20 bash or the English season etc have very poor representation from other test playing countries, let alone drawing a global audience. In that regard, IPL and CL have been successful in drawing eyeballs around the world. Its high time the admin realises that cricket has to be branded like the EPL to sell it. IPL has been doing that very well and in the process also has made moolah to the BCCI.The BCCI is not perfect but so are the other boards. 5 yrs ago when BCCI was just another member of the ICC, nobody complained.Whatever the author complained as "bullying" by BCCI was rampant by ECB and CA. Now its the turn of the money maker - Sit back and enjoy!

Posted by Sami on (January 9, 2010, 21:15 GMT)

rickp, Modi didn't come up with Twenty20, it was the ECB.

Posted by Pradeep on (January 9, 2010, 19:53 GMT)

very good article...with a lot of food for thought...personally i think the Olympics is the way froward,by using T20. potentially a good 2-3 billion will be paying attention, and it's not an overly commercially atmosphere like the IPL. the game will be given prominence, and a lot would be at stake , so there'll be good competition. so Cricket in 2020 Olympics hopefully!!!

Posted by Chris on (January 9, 2010, 17:35 GMT)

just put those millions and billions into test cricket, spare a little for odi and we'll be rid of that 20-thing abomination.

Posted by Scott on (January 9, 2010, 15:42 GMT)

A very interesting article who offers much food for thought and it will be interesting to see the state of the game in 10 years. Yes I would agree with Mr Gupta that in the end the future lies in diversification of the money base for the game, which will mean opening the highest reaches of the game (ie. international representation at major ICC events/test cricket) to countries outside the current roster (in particular the US, but also the likes of Canada and down the line China & Japan). We already see more evidence of the ICC's keen eye for the US market with the national team given entry to the qualifiers for this year's World T20 cup. As new players emerge it will be interesting to see if any pressure can be put on India by the other existing powers to relinquish some of their control for the sake of the game, but at the moment any discussion of this is moot until the ranks of test playing nations are expanded and matches between the big nations and new ones played with regularit

Posted by Lukesh on (January 9, 2010, 13:46 GMT)

To answer shortofalength's question: "Are any of the (IPL) franchises making any money?"

Yes as of IPL2 all of the franchises are making a profit. Just check the IPL article on wikipedia

Posted by Steve on (January 9, 2010, 9:59 GMT)

I agree with NickHughes. The IPL seems very tenuous to people in other countries. Are any of the franchises making any money and more importantly are the people who are tuning in or going to games actually turning to the game of "cricket" or something else. If the millionaires who have invested in the game decide tomorrow that they can get a better return somewhere else and pull out, the game of cricket will go on regardless of the whether it has been embraced in China or anywhere else. It goes on because people love to play it and watch it. So what if Test matches don't draw any people to the ground. Cricket fans all over the world follow the game on TV or radio,on the internet on sites like Cricinfo. We have just seen 2 fantastic games of Test cricket in the past week enjoyed by millions around the world. If the game takes off in other countries thats fine but it will live on regardless

Posted by SDS on (January 9, 2010, 7:47 GMT)

Let's not call it cricket...this article should refer to a new sport. Call it Slugit and make that a new Olympic sport to carry to world markets. Keep and uphold the traditional game....the game called cricket....where it needs to be with those who understands and appreciates it.

Posted by Ravish on (January 9, 2010, 0:25 GMT)

One of the constant complaints we hear among some test playing nations is by the youngsters who think they are not getting adequate opportunities to play because older players are not paving the way and retiring while senior players are still playing at decent level and don't feel the need to retire. It is precisely to mitigate these circumstances and give opportunities to more players in test format that we need test championship in franchise format so that in Indian case players like Kaif, Pujara, Badri, and others don't feel that their careers are wasted because players in Sachin, Dravid, and Laxman are still playing while the senior pros think that they are still performing well and have the zeal. These situations can be avoided and more opportunities provided to fringe players (even like Tait, David Hussey etc) with test championships in franchise format.

Posted by Nick on (January 8, 2010, 23:15 GMT)

Why does cricket need a football or basketball style growth? If the IPL 20/20 bubble burst next year, and the multi-millions...and billions...shrunk back, would it be so bad? Cricket would still be played and watched, people would still enjoy the game so who would lose out? Oh yes, all the profiteers. We've enjoyed 3 months of brilliant test cricket around the world so don't let anyone tell you that's the boring format when hardly anyone can remember any recent 20/20 result. And the same with English football...if that bubble were to burst the game would still go on but with fewer overpaid players and ridiculously overpacked schedules.

Posted by Jay on (January 8, 2010, 21:54 GMT)

First of all, why should cricket 'learn' anything from two completely different sports. Secondly, in what way is the English Premier League 'global' ? It's utter nonsense. I for one don't see a problem with the T20 brand of cricket. I also don't find anything menacing about the IPL except that it would be silly to 'globalize' an Indian domestic league. For those of you ready to pounce on an argument, look at it this way: Do Indians care about South African Pro20 tournament which is also franchise based ? does ANYBODY care about the English or Australian T20 competitions outside those countries ? The answer is simple - No. The same applies to the IPL. As far as American sport and the English Premier League go, the only reason they have been able to appeal to the global fan base was because of guys like Jordan, Magic Johnson, David Beckham, Michael Owen etc and sadly not to mention the silly infatuation SOME people have towards the USA and European way of life. What a pity !

Posted by S on (January 8, 2010, 20:46 GMT)

In the inbox section of Cricinfo the editor exhorts contributors to remain brief and meaningful, but this article is long, winding, meandering with almost no sense to it.

Posted by rahul on (January 8, 2010, 20:28 GMT)

The business of T20 is booming so such grand visions of a global cricket following are not out of place. But there is a big problem with wholesale adoption of T20, going by your analogy Basketball and football did not alter the game rules to become popular.

Imagine a single quarter basketball game or a penalty shootout only football match. That is what T20 is. If fast bat and ball action is what you want with hits over the fence every so often, then why not watch baseball?

Besides the problems with T20 format, there also is the major hurdle of utterly corrupt/ incompetent administrations running cricket. Have you forgotten the WI world cup fiasco so quickly?

Posted by Rick on (January 8, 2010, 20:08 GMT)

I am a NBA season ticket holder and a NFL Sports fanatic who loves and follows Cricket and subscripts to Cricketing channel's here and even orders cricketing ODI's and the IPL season on Pay Per view in North America. I have got to tell you in order for cricket to make it here in NA or into any global expansion and retain fan interest it's got to start and finish in 3 hours just like games in the NBA, NFL or even EPL. The 20 over game would be the only format that will work or is exciting enough to make an impact in new areas. The franchise concept in cricket is even starting to work over here. I have animated conversation's with friends all the time being a devoted Mumbai Indian's fan. However before some of you get bent out of shape I also enjoy some Test matches when played between marquee teams. The writer did not address the fact that people will spend top $$ to watch games that end in 3 hours. Modi got the concept correct that games must end in 3 hrs to hold fan interest.

Posted by Sujoy on (January 8, 2010, 19:50 GMT)

Someone with scant respect or love for the game is the executive editor of Cricinfo, mind-boggling. Did this guy ever experience the joy of watching a shiny new cherry kissing the bemused batsman's willow on its way to the keeper or of the thrill of pulling a hostile bouncer to the square-leg boundary? I guess he didn't, if he did he would not have written this piece.

Posted by Subhankar on (January 8, 2010, 19:07 GMT)

When we watch movie trailers on television, off course they seem more exciting the the original movie itself. They are short and action packed and don't include the occasional dull periods and interval of the movie. But does that stop us from watching the movie? No. In fact the trailers attract us to watch the movie. Same applies to the case of cricket. T20's are the action packed trailers and Test cricket is the full length movie. Sure T20 can attract new fans, and once they are attracted to T20 (after all its a form of cricket), they may be intersted in ODI's and Test cricket also. T20 should be used properly for bringing in new fans for cricket, not for replacing Test cricket or ODI.

Posted by Rahul on (January 8, 2010, 19:05 GMT)

Utter rubbish.The author tries to highlight an non existent issue.I.T20 is just entertainment.It is not cricket. It is not a contest between bat and ball. We need great Tests and a Great World cup to save cricket and not T20. T20 is a fad that will fade away, but the real passion is generated in Tests and it is the passion that generates the TRP ratings and the statdium money. I remember seeing empty roads during the 2003 WC match between India and Pakistan in a normally crowded Mumbai. Never seen that for a T20 and never will see.

Posted by Ganesh on (January 8, 2010, 19:04 GMT)

waste of time in reading such a big article!

Posted by Sami on (January 8, 2010, 19:01 GMT)

The penultimate paragraph is a load of nonsense, the guidelines for a person to be fit to buy a club must be very thin, if Malcolm Glazer was allowed to plunge Manchester United into half a billion pounds worth of debt when he took over.

Posted by Sami on (January 8, 2010, 18:59 GMT)

I detest the word 'franchise'. For me, it's about county and country.

Posted by Aditya on (January 8, 2010, 18:40 GMT)

well written..but hopefully the future has a balance between these 'leagues' and test cricket !

Posted by Aniruddha on (January 8, 2010, 18:36 GMT)

Brilliant! This article is a breath of fresh air. The current columnists on cricinfo were beginning to sound like a retired grandmom's sewing circle. Outdated in thought and rejoicing in a gloom and doom scenario that only they can see for cricket. Thanks for saying something different and recognizing the opportunities that exist for cricket

Posted by on (January 8, 2010, 18:05 GMT)

The statement that the Premier League is 'strictly regulated' and that 'these regulators will decide if Person X is fit to buy a club' is laughable. I'd say that the acquisition of clubs by Russian, Icelandic and Thai businessmen suggests at best lax and, more plausibly, no regulation. I would endorse earlier criticisms - an ill informed article based on a questionable premise.

Posted by Abhishek on (January 8, 2010, 18:03 GMT)

Contrary to some of the comments down here, I think that this article was quite informative and intelligently written. It has come as a fresh breath of air amidst all the IPL-bashing and the concern over the sanctity of test cricket. Let me put it down plain and simple: Test cricket isn't going anywhere. It has survived for the last 120 years and its will survive the next 120. If anything, the advent of Twenty20 will increase the results percentage in tests and probably induce the ICC to set-up a world test championship. Both these things can only be good for test cricket. And by the way, neither is ODI about to die. You need only to look at the success of recent AUS-IND one day series to realize how popular those are in cricket's biggest market. On the other hand, the limited number of slots in the year mean that there will be less of both tests and ODIs in order to accommodate the T20Is and the domestic T20 leagues.

Posted by Zia on (January 8, 2010, 14:59 GMT)

A poorly written article indeed. Another article trying to impress people that T20 is the road to crickets survival and cricket is oh such a global game.... looks like economics and marketing has also become a great passion for cricket writers all over. Guys if you like biz studies so much, please go and get your MBAs and impress the faculty with your thinking on a cricketing marketing revolution. Otherwise please try to write something about the game.

Posted by Maneesh on (January 8, 2010, 13:52 GMT)

The IPL is not professional. Each team has its own unique trophy for "man of the match"! That is so wrong. There should be a standard trophy for man of the match. Also, there could be "bowler of the match" and "batsman of the match" too, each with their own sponsor.

The "Airtel bowler of the match goes to Ishant Sharma" and the "ITC batsman of the match goes to Yuvraj Singh", the man of the match also goes to Yuvraj Singh".

Posted by dinesh on (January 8, 2010, 13:06 GMT)

Yes, i agree that cricket needs to be globalise but at sake of test cricket, no not at all! I am young but i still love test cricket. T20 is utterly rubbish.i dont know why some fools like t20 cricket.Cricket's main format is test cricket and you should accept that.Football is different kind of game.The day test cricket dies i will stop watching cricket.This is really a rubbish article.

Posted by Aryaman on (January 8, 2010, 12:33 GMT)

@tfjones1978 absolutely brilliant thought. Thats just what cricket requires to bring back interest in tests. Good article

Posted by Jomesh on (January 8, 2010, 11:39 GMT)

This article is a waste of space. If it was meant to be an advertisement for the "global" circus like IPL & CL, everyone knows the place it deserves to be. I dont mind cricket going global, but please...I donot want IPL or CL to be the brand ambassadors for it.

No sport would have its charisma without the passion & fan following that is brought about only by the country vs country & individual duals. The greatest value of cricket is its diversity - 3 formats, and Test cricket remains its most most precious, with all the tradition & clash of skills.

I donot want cricket to be reduced to a "fun" thing or a "show". I dont want cricket to be like WWE...please!

Posted by Markus on (January 8, 2010, 10:15 GMT)

I'm sorry, but this article is utter, utter tosh. We love cricket precisely because of its "archaic traditions and baggage". 5 days, breaks for lunch and tea and a draw at the end of it is all part of the game.

The attempt to "globalise" the sport is purely down to the egos of the administrators and the wish to make a quick buck from it. T20 is fun, but if it is to persist, it should be on a separate schedule like the rugby 7s that other white dominated colonial sport.

Posted by Sahan on (January 8, 2010, 9:27 GMT)

What's going to happen to country vs country? Cricket fans are just not interested in franchise vs franchise, because there's no passion. Eg. who won the IPL last year? I don't remember or care. We don't want the IPL to become cricket's EPL. And btw, what happens to Test cricket if T20s start making even more money.

Posted by srikar on (January 8, 2010, 9:19 GMT)

@tf jones: amazing format..i hope the ICC is reading this! Thumbs Up

Posted by Deon on (January 8, 2010, 8:56 GMT)

Why should cricket grow? Why does it need to conquer the world? It's perfect just as it is. It's already the most popular sport in some of the world's most populous countries. It has strong roots in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Oceania and Africa. Why change something that is working? I would hate to see traditions like the Ashes being shifted aside for the sake of penetrating the lucrative Chinese market. I don't want the US, China, Japan, Russia and Brazil to come to the party. They will just try to dominate and steal the show. Leave cricket as it is. Educate the T20 fans. Don't feed them the rubbish they crave.

Posted by Saurja on (January 8, 2010, 8:29 GMT)

Cricket needs to grow because greed...wait, no...growth is good. The idea that growth is an end in itself led to this economic meltdown, and judging by cricket governance as it exists today, one can only imagine the armageddon awaiting. Taking ManUtd, the marketing of the EPL made them infinitely richer. So a global marketing campaign would almost certainly make the BCCI more powerful as the influence of the affluent large Indian diaspora would be huge. The other crucial factor is that both the NBA and the EPL are domestic leagues marketed to foreign audiences without existing allegiances, marketed through the cults of personality - Jordan, Beckham. They also simultaneously occured when aspirations to the "the west is cool" attitude was at its zenith. Cricket doesn't have equivalent brand ambassadors yet, and probable lacks the cool cache as well.

Posted by Jason on (January 8, 2010, 7:09 GMT)

While football/soccer and Basketball can teach cricket a lot, especially regarding the financials, there is also a lot of baggage, the worst is the extreme tribalism that starts to occur, which ultimately leads to violence both in and around the stadiums. Violence is not solely limited to UK football, it is a world wide problem.

As much as we would all like to think that there is no violence in cricket, there is an undertone that has started to rise over the 10 years, and rising faster since T20 and the IPL started, do we really want to see police in riot gear at grounds when Team A play Team B, I dont, but it will happen if cricket starts chashing the mighty $$$.

If T20 does manage to globalise Cricket, as some hope where does this leave Test cricket the purest form of the game, and some of the great contests, like the Ashes, India vs Pakistan, England vs SA, SA vs Australia.

Posted by Terry on (January 8, 2010, 7:05 GMT)

I agree. Test cricket needs to turn into a 4 year World Cup & World Plate instead of seemingly random test series. Y1 Group Stage = 4 groups of 5 (1 home & 1 away X4 with 1-8 & 9-16 games 2 home & 2 away against team in same seeding). Y2-3 Super Eights = Top 8 for Cup (2 home & 2 away X6) and Next 8 for Plate (2 home & 2 away X 6) Y4 Semi = 3 tests for Cup (#1 vs #4 in #1, #2 vs #3 in #2) and similar for Plate. Y4 Final = 5 tests for Cup (w vs w in higher pts team) and similar for Plate. THUS: * Teams 17-20 play 8 tests, 4 against Top 8 teams and 4 against teams 9-16. 17-20 would then compete in 2 year (next) Test World Cup Qualifiers (Top 4 qualify).

* Teams 9-16 play 34-42 tests with 6 against Top 8 teams and 28-36 against teams 9-16 over 4 years. 13-16 would have playoffs in 4th year against 5th-8th in (next) Test World Cup Qualifiers.

* Teams 1-8 play 34-42 tests with 6 against Minnows (inc Bang) and 28-36 against Top 8 teams over 4 years. 5-8 have free time in 4th year.

Posted by Ravish on (January 8, 2010, 4:20 GMT)

Far more logical would be establishing cricket leagues around the world based on franchise model to bring in money and in turn better cricketing and spectator facilities, and better pay. These domestic leagues can have their own T20 championship for 5 weeks, 40/50 over championship for 5 weeks, and a test championship for 12 weeks. Then have a champions league for the winners in each format with about 2 weeks each for CL in T20 and 40/50 over format and 6 weeks for test CL. Once in 4 years there will be a world cup in T20, 40/50 over format, and test format in country vs. country model and during that year the test championship in league model can be compressed or eliminated. This brings money to game thru private investment, opportunities for more players, preserves all formats, allows franchises to sign fulltime recruits, brings context, more money for boards. It also gives value to words "playing for ur country" by being rare than current meaningless bilateral tournaments.

Posted by Homer on (January 8, 2010, 4:09 GMT)

1. WADA -

2. ACSU - IPL1 # The team was guided by ACSU officials, who played a supporting role. # The ICC had first offered full ACSU coverage for the second IPL edition a few months after the hugely successful inaugural event got over last May, based on independent observations and inputs collated during the tournament. The IPL agreed and were then sent a quote on the fee this would involve.

3 ACSU - IPL2 - The ACSU's pre-event spadework involves staging reconnaissances in the host cities and gathering intelligence from local sources to identify potential corruptors. Against this background, the effectiveness of the IPL's anti-corruption procedures this year is open to question after the tournament - involving 59 matches over 37 days, at eight venues - was shifted to South Africa just three weeks before its scheduled start

Anything else?

Posted by Ravish on (January 8, 2010, 4:07 GMT)

Incredibly long-winded, verbose, and poorly thought out and reasoned article. Firstly, you presume there is consensus in the cricket community that people would like to see cricket go global. There are many people on this site itself who hate that thought because they think that would mean the end of test cricket and predominance of T20 which does not interest them. Secondly, you argue that cricket to go to all these new countries. Where do you presume ICC will get the money from? The money they get currently itself is barely enough to sponsor affiliate and associate countries for cricket development. You drift from one sport to other incoherently completely confusing the point you want to get across. Yes, IPL and Modi needs to be more clear and consistent in the rules for IPL but that will happen over time as it is only 2 yrs old. Franchises paying $225 mill+ will dictate them to. Finally, you assume test cricket to be dead with all your T20 globe trotting leagues round the year.

Posted by Girik on (January 8, 2010, 3:46 GMT)

Jayaditya doesn't actually really say WHY cricket needs to grow. The only half-decent reason is to rectify the economic power imbalance between India and the other countries. But expanding the game won't fix this it will just create a strange sort of oligarchy instead of monarchy.

Rugby league doesn't see the need to grow. Aussie Rules Football doesn't see the need to grow. Neither do Gaelic football, Ice Hockey, Curling, Fencing, Water Polo, Handball, Kho Kho or Kabaddi.

Most sports and games played in the world are not global sports like association football but they will still live on for hundreds and hundreds of years. The Darwinian "Survivial of the Fittest" notion hardly applies to sports since many people play and watch many sports and will continue to do so.

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Jayaditya GuptaClose
Jayaditya Gupta Executive editor, India A football lover and a veteran of the print media, Jayaditya sold out on both to join the crazy gang at ESPNcricinfo. It's a decision that often left him wondering whether he'd stumbled into the wrong room by mistake, till he realised that many of his colleagues switch the TV channel from cricket to football when they think nobody's watching. He does have cricketing heroes: Viv Richards and Steve Waugh share space with Steve Coppell (the player and manager) and Bryan Robson (the player!). Having covered two world cups (the football version) and a Champions League final, he can now set his sights on fulfilling other ambitions - including the launch of "Footinfo". Watch this space for more details...
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