ICC World Twenty20 2009 May 28, 2009

World T20 won't repeat mistakes of World Cup


Steve Elworthy, the ICC's tournament director, believes that the allure of international competition will enable the forthcoming World Twenty20 to rise above the fears of overkill that are currently circulating in English cricket, but warned that the ECB will have missed a trick if they fail to use the three-week event to attract a new audience to the game.

Speaking to Cricinfo on the eve of the tournament, Elworthy admitted that the game's administrators had learnt their lessons from the disastrous Caribbean World Cup in 2007, and were also mindful of overloading the calendar with too many marquee events. But regardless of the hype and glamour of the recently completed Indian Premier League, he insisted that tickets for the World Twenty20 were proving extremely popular in what he described as a "unique summer" for the ECB.

"The key point with any product is the exclusivity," said Elworthy. "You want people walking away at the end of a match wanting more, you want them to say: 'I can't wait for next season because I can't wait for the next Twenty20 competition'.

"[It's true that] there've been a couple of very big competitions in a fairly short space of time, but it'll settle down. It is a massive summer of cricket for the ECB, but it's a unique summer. It doesn't happen very often to get the Ashes and a world event in the same year and hosted by the same board."

Elworthy was appointed to his role by the ECB back in January, having successfully overseen the inaugural World Twenty20 in September 2007 in his native South Africa. That tournament was won in a thrilling final by India, who chose to return to the country to stage last month's IPL, when the competition was forced overseas by the unstable political climate in the subcontinent.

"The IPL is a fantastic domestic product and its success is widely recognised," said Elworthy. "But this is nation versus nation, and everything we are doing goes back to that pride of pulling on your shirt and representing your country. What's the hook when you're watching the match? It's the fact that you want your country to do well."

According to Elworthy, the ICC is still heeding the lessons learnt at the 2007 World Cup, which featured 47 matches in 51 days, unrealistic ticket prices and some grindingly dull cricket between ill-matched teams. The original World Twenty20 took place just six months on from that event, and was an unqualified success thanks largely to a rock-bottom pricing policy that opened the gates to a whole new audience.

"Twenty20 is deemed a development product," said Elworthy. "It is for attracting new markets and new spectators and fans, who will hopefully go on to play cricket and participate. You've got to be able to get to the youth market, because what you're trying to achieve is dictated to you by your ticket price."

Tickets for the 2007 event ranged from the equivalent of £1.50 for the opening rounds to a top-tier cost of £11 for the final, and even allowing for a stronger UK economy and the knowledge of the event's popularity, those prices are considerably lower than the ones on offer in 2009. This time around, adult tickets will range from £20 at Trent Bridge to £90 at Lord's, even though Under-16s will be able to watch the final for as little as a tenner.

"You can't have an elite ticket price and expect it to be attended by loads of families and kids," said Elworthy. "The structure of our ticket prices there was one of the key successes [of the 2007 tournament]."

While South Africa proved to be an outstanding venue for both the World Twenty20 and the IPL, England has a less auspicious track record when it comes to global cricket events. The last major tournament to be staged in the country was the 1999 World Cup, which was memorable for a fizzer of an opening ceremony and a poor showing from the host nation, who were ejected from the competition in the opening round.

Elworthy, however, is adamant that cricket fans in England will flock to the event, even though the Ashes remain the dominant attraction of the summer. "Twenty20 in this country is extremely popular," he said. "Our first set of ticket allocations went out just under a year ago, and over 100,000 tickets were sold out in 48 hours. There are still tickets available, but we expect 95-98% capacity at the key double-headers, and we are well on target in terms of our goals of over 80% attendance across the entire tournament."

"All the venues have been supportive," he added. "Our ticketing strategy didn't want to alienate the current markets and clientele that the venues have, but we wanted to reach new audiences and get new faces to the ground. All the dug-outs and DJ boxes and dance podiums, those have become part of the Twenty20 brand, and they'll be delivered at all these venues."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Paul on May 30, 2009, 13:37 GMT

    I guess the comments below indicate the as yet Mickey Mouse nature of the T20 World Cup. The RWC 2003 (Australia) did an amazing job marketing it as a once in a generation event, and subsequently a game was sold out in Tasmania (not a Rugby state) between Romania and Namibia. The Mayor of Launceston told everyone to go for a team based on whether their street number was an odd or even. I remember watching France (albeit a big draw card) vs USA (a very small draw card) with 40,000 people in Brisbane on a school night. People were happy to pay the A$50 upwards to go along because it was seen as almost a once in a lifetime thing. Sadly, I can't imagine anyone could see T/20WCII in the same light.

    On a side note, I paid $80 for a 5 day ticket to the first test of the last Ashes series at the Gabba. Harmison - that was gold.

  • oliver on May 29, 2009, 14:21 GMT

    yes I can see about not repeating the mistakes of the 2007 world cup:

    2. Alcohol, metal cans or glass containers may not be brought into the ground at any time due to ICC regulations. For match days at Lord's please refer to the Lord's website (www.Lord's.org) for the ground's specific regulations in this area.

    3. No large flags / banners, sticks or poles are allowed into the ground.

  • Andy on May 29, 2009, 12:44 GMT

    It's a bit of a joke Elworthy putting out this sort of PR. All the big games have been sold out for months. England's grounds are small. The only matches unlikely to attract sell-out crowds are the mismatches involving Ireland, Netherlands - or maybe if we're forced to play West Indies yet again!!! I paid £90 for a semi-final ticket at The Oval. Not a cheap option! Let's hope it's a good one and boring England get knocked out early.

  • Damian on May 29, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    What always amuses me about the administrators who set the ticket prices is that they never have to pay these exhorbitant amounts themselves. Will Mr. Elworthy (or any ECB or ICCC administrator) be forking our gbp200+ for themselves and their family for any game? Not a cinders chance in snow of that! These folk will be too busy patting themselves on the back with their noses firmly entranched in the corporate trough. The only exceptions to this will be the spin-gurus barking orders at the TV producer to not show the empty sections in the grandstand. Have the ICC ever admitted that the 2007 WC was a terrible event? NO! They never learn!

  • Stuart on May 29, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    If you want to attract kids and give them an interest in the game, why not hold the tournament during the school summer holidays. As it is, whilst the most child friendly cricket competition is being played, the nation's school children will all be in classrooms and exam halls, not in or near the grounds.

  • Daniel on May 29, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    No. This event is merely a sideshow compared to the main event of the summer, the Ashes.

  • Will on May 29, 2009, 11:16 GMT

    I'm afraid to say recession or not, "entertainment", whether it be a concert, a trip to the theatre or a sporting event is very expensive in UK compared to other countries. Premiership football can easily set you back £40 to £70 a game and concerts at a big venues like the NEC or O2 Arena are often over £100 for a ticket, which is very expensive, but people pay it. As for the massive increase in prices between the first T20 World Cup and this one, you do have to remember that £11 may sound like peanuts to someone in the UK, but that's more to do with the exchange rate and the average income of your average South African. The only thing to do is to vote with your feet, it's all very well complaining about the prices, but If you're doing whilst sitting at the ground munching on an £8 hotdog - more fool you!

  • Shaun on May 29, 2009, 10:36 GMT

    The ECB/ICC really are bleeding us dry with these prices & overkill of 20/20 cricket. The World Cup should not be in England when we have an Ashes series to follow. To top it all Cricinfo allow adverts from Seatwave!! Isn't this just a legalized ticket touting service - sorry I mean secondary ticket market!!

  • Amrut on May 29, 2009, 9:23 GMT

    The game's administrators need to be flexible in designing their ticketing strategies for global events such as the World T20 and the World Cup. Surely, an Ireland-Bangladesh game cannot command the same ticket price range as an Australia-SA or an India-Pakistan game. Is there no way for the administrators to subsidise an Ireland-Bangladesh game and command a premium for an India-Pak game? A uniform price for all games is not economically feasible, particularly with television being an attractive alternative option for many families.

  • Dev on May 29, 2009, 9:05 GMT

    @riverlime: For the SF & finals a family of 4 with 1 under 16 pays GBP50x3 + GBP 10 i.e total of GBP 160. For the group matches it is GBP 30x3+ 10 = GBP100 and for the Super8 stage it is GBP40x3 +10 = GBP 130. So it is really a good deal for families. Almost all the days are double headers so we get to watch 2 matches for the price of 1. Tickets for Trent Bridge matches are much cheaper and so are all the warm up games.

    @All: Getting tickets for Lords and Oval were always difficult - be it for Tests or ODIs and most people do not know that tickets are still available for T20! Just bad marketing or rather no marketing at all. When people were looking for tickets, none were available and now when everyone gave up ICC have opened more tickets.

  • No featured comments at the moment.