Player survey reveals T20 World Cup has closed gap on ODI World Cup

In the past five years, there has been a sharp increase in the proportion of players who consider the T20 World Cup to be the most important ICC event

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Tabraiz Shamsi welcomed Aiden Markram after a dominating win, Afghanistan vs South Africa, 1st semi-final, Tarouba, T20 World Cup, June 26, 2024

ICC/Getty Images

The T20 World Cup is on course to overtake the 50-over World Cup as the "most important" ICC event to players around the world, according to new survey data seen by ESPNcricinfo.
The newly-rebranded World Cricketers Association (WCA), formerly FICA, conducts regular surveys which are circulated to several hundred players around the world. In the past five years, there has been a sharp increase in the proportion who consider the T20 World Cup to be the most important ICC event, especially among young players.
In 2019, 85% of respondents ranked the 50-over World Cup as the most important ICC event, compared to 15% who chose the T20 World Cup. In 2024, only 50% chose the 50-over World Cup, compared to 35% who said the T20 World Cup and a further 15% who picked the World Test Championship.
For players under 26, the change is even more stark. In 2019, 86% picked the 50-over World Cup compared to 14% who chose the T20 World Cup. In 2024, just 49% said the 50-over World Cup, while 41% picked the T20 World Cup and 10% chose the World Test Championship.
The trend is reflected more widely across the game, beyond ICC events. Five years ago, 82% of survey respondents picked Test cricket as the most important format while 11% chose T20. This year, only 48% of players chose Test cricket compared to 30% who said T20.
The WCA say that the sample size for this year's survey - which will be released in full later in the year - was around 330 professional players from 13 different countries, the majority of whom are current internationals. The data is skewed by a higher proportion of female respondents in 2024 but the WCA say the trends hold true when isolating responses from male players.
India, Pakistan and Afghanistan players are among those who are not represented by the WCA since they are not unionised. But the survey responses are spread across players from cricket's other major nations, which include Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies.
Tom Moffat, WCA's chief executive, was in New York and Barbados during the group stages of the T20 World Cup to meet with players. He told ESPNcricinfo: "This Men's T20 World Cup has been a great spectacle and our latest global player survey data continues to highlight the trend in player preferences towards T20 cricket in particular."
The WCA will invite players to scheduling symposiums in August and September, and Moffat believes that they must be involved in collective discussions if the game is serious about solving its issues. "The rapid evolution in the game is exciting but also presents challenges of leadership in a sport that has traditionally not come together coherently on many global issues outside of ICC events," he said.
"Scheduling in particular is still managed based on individual deals and regional interests and if you looked closely enough, you would probably find some countries have already filled up their calendars with bilateral international cricket for the best part of the next decade.
"Given the domestic T20 leagues are also filling up calendar space and becoming a preferred option for many players and those investing in the game, that doesn't make much sense."
Moffat believes that bilateral international cricket has been significantly weakened by boards acting in their own self-interests and scheduling it alongside franchise leagues.
"As an industry, we either accept there will be two parallel calendars and a split player employment market - which means international cricket isn't going to be best vs best - or we come together to try and find a way to ensure both landscapes can co-exist, with scheduling windows and a properly structured international calendar," he said.
"Either way, the players should be collectively involved in decisions on game structure and regulations that impact their careers. The players drive and are invested in the game's success, and their decisions are shaping its future."
The WCA and the ICC recently renegotiated players' squad terms for the next four years of ICC events, which cover commercial and image rights. A deal was struck in the days leading up the T20 World Cup after many months of negotiations and the WCA believe the new collective model will benefit players from smaller nations.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98