World Cup, Africa and EAP U/19; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to review the opening fortnight of world cup matches, assessing how the associate teams have gone to date, and their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals. They then look at the extraordinary turn in the politics of the next world cup that has taken place since the start of the tournament, the petition to increase the number of teams, and make a call to both focus on these issues outside the world cup, and to not neglect the many other problems in the game (18:08). The Africa and EAP U/19 qualifiers are looked at, won respectively by Namibia and in a big surprise, Fiji. (27:41) In news, the ICC has requested an extensive list of information from USACA, and the end may be near for our most consistent source of governance news (32:33). There is also news on the hosts for WCL6, Americas Div 1, and ongoing issues in Nepal (38:30).

Direct Download Running Time 44min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 1st March, 2015 19:58:57   [#] [0 comments] 

Leaving money on the table
Russell Degnan

“If the ICC wants to be judged on sporting ideals, then I will happily judge them on sporting ideals, but if they want to be judged on business ideals then I think we can also judge them on business ideals, and they are failing on both.”

It seems to be a matter of faith that the ICC is acting purely for the sake of money. It was even part of the justification David Richardson gave for shifting to a 10-team world cup: that they needed the money to fund programs. We Fisked those comments at length on the last podcast, but there is another nagging issues, related to the quote above.

The ICC does a poor job of making money for its members.

Four examples will suffice, though I suspect there are more.

Playing the WT20 every four years

The ICC annual reports detail the profits made on various global events. The World T20 was a big unknown (if it existed at all) when the previous rights were being negotiated, but quickly became a key product, bringing in $78m in 2009, $105m in 2010, $129m in 2012 and approximately $150m in 2014. Then the ICC decided to have it only every four years. There is no replacement, nor is there any indication that having it on a four year cycle will increase the rights value. There are (perhaps) a few savings in qualification costs, but the last WT20 qualifiers had a broadcast partner and made a small profit. In short: the ICC decided to forego in the order of $300-400m in revenue over the eight-year cycle to make the WT20 a four year event, starting in 2016.

Ignoring the Olympics

The choice of 2016 was in itself interesting.

The ICC commissioned a report to examine the costs and benefits of being in the Olympic games. They measured the costs assiduously, noting both that England would be disadvantaged - though they exaggerated the degree to a ludicrous extent, claiming to lose £160m for what amounts to a two week gap in their schedule - and that the $85.5m in revenue distribution from the WT20 was not offset by the $14m cricket would receive from the IOC as an Olympic sport. But this was predicated on their being two WT20 tournaments in a four year cycle and that one would conflict with the Olympic tournament. Otherwise the ICC was merely giving up the chance to get an IOC distribution. Nevertheless, through a miracle of board incompetence, the ICC achieved both those aims, stifling any opportunity to promote cricket through the Olympic movement.

The $14 million figure was, nevertheless, also a gross exaggeration. National Olympic committees routinely give large funding grants to Olympic sports, in the hope of qualifying, or achieving a medal. And for western nations these are not small amounts. Germany spends €130m a year on Olympic sports. Numbers ten times what the ICC currently gives to associate nations are routine. In Second XI, Sahil Dutta reported the figure as $20m from various bodies in China, even before other benefits from exposure and programs are included.

On the other hand, the ECB will host India for 5 tests, 5 ODIs and a T20 in 2018, in addition to 5 ODIs and a T20 with Australia. How fortunate for them, that the WT20 is no longer in potential conflict with their most lucrative tour.

Playing one game per day

The cricket world cup consists of 49 matches, around 400 hours of programming and earns somewhat more than $500m USD in television revenue. The graph above shows the ending times (more or less) for each day of the world cup in AEST. Notice that there are gaps; there are also gaps in the mornings of most days - though mornings have half the viewers of the evening. All told, there are some 50 hours of Australian prime-time / Indian afternoon that is not being used.

The consequences of this are two-fold. The first is that it stalls momentum in the tournament. A home world cup should never leave local fans with nothing to watch. Secondly, while having one game per day ensures matches aren't competing for a tv audience, when 70% of that audience is (largely) interested in six specific matches, the others are gravy. The cost of putting on a match is a long way below the value of even a pair of associate teams.

There is ample slack in the scheduling to include more teams and more matches. Having multiple matches ensures that an early finish, or dud game allows the viewers other options. In a world of multi-channels, it would be easy to add an extra $20-30 million to the rights value of the world cup. Instead we are treated to empty, drawn-out schedules and the sense of a tournament grinding instead of accelerating to a conclusion.

Long group stages

It is taken as an article of faith that because India will play 9 matches in the next world cup, the ICC will earn more from the tournament than a tournament with more knockouts but potentially fewer Indian matches.

It may therefore come as a surprise that Indian fans, loyal as they are, also happen to like matches with meaning and context. The tv ratings for 2007 and 2011 are telling in this respect. The reported TVR figures are somewhat inconsistent but the following figures seem broadly correct:

TVR2007Matches2011MatchesxBase
India (all)10.3312.09
India (non-final)10.338.66x6
Final4.5123.21x4
Semi-Final (w India)--21.01
Semi-Final (non-India)2.524.31x2
Q-Final (w India)--12.31x1.5
Non-India (all)1.4481.340x1
Overall2.0513.949

The final column estimates the increase in audience for each type of match, from a 6x increase for Indian matches, to a 4x increase for a final. There is a somewhat significant multiplier for matches against Pakistan as well. The important point is the extra value of knock-out games: meaningful games.

If we calculate the multiple of extra fans we can make some rough calculations on the size of the India tv audience for each format (assuming India makes the quarter-finals but no better).

TournamentIndiaQ/FS/FF1st Rd2nd RdTotal
2007expected9x6-2x21x42118101
2007actual3x6-2x21x4212471
2011/15expected6x66x1.5+3x1.52x21x436-92.5
2011/15actual6x66x1.5+3x1.51x2+6x26x436-124.5
2019expected9x6-2x21x436-98
20 Teamexpected4x66x1.5+7x1.52x21x436-87.5
32 Teamexpected3x66x1.5+11x1.52x21x445-96.5

For broadcasters in India, and therefore more than a little dependent on how India performs: you win some, you lose some. The losses suffered when India exited early in 2007 were more than made up in their run to the final in 2011. But the risk of that in 2007 was high, the format was a dud, with few knock-outs, and a ludicrously long second round.

But the added value of the long round-robin is not found in the tv figures. Knock-outs rate better (recalling too, that this is only India, and therefore only 2/3 of the total market). More matches can make up the difference, and there is plenty of room for more. And this table doesn't take into account the future value of a well produced and therefore more marketable format, nor the value in promoting to markets who find themselves with a local representative. While my preferred 20-team format is worth marginally less by the model, it is marginal (less than 10% probably). FIFA's 32 team world cup, while probably a step too far for cricket, makes up the difference by having 63 matches, even if India made an (unlikely) exit at the round of 16.

Concluding...

The ICC can do better. Adding 5-10% to the value of a tournament because Indian matches are guaranteed to rate better in their biggest market, while ignoring the significant value of meaningful matches is a pathetic short-term return, and a long-term loss. The cricket world cup lasts a long time, but has fewer matches than it might, leaving all those supposed gains on the table.

And yet those gains are pitiful when compared with the losses suffered by reducing the number of WT20 tournaments, or to their smaller members, by not pursuing the Olympic dream - one the IOC would back, given their weakness on the sub-continent. Coupled with the redirection of profits into the big-three, the decision to put the ECB's domestic schedule over the interests of every other member ought to be called out and examined.

The associates have done a good job of showing the folly of the ICC on sporting grounds, but even they might be shocked at how pathetic the supposed financial gains are for their betrayal.

Cricket - Articles 27th February, 2015 00:25:49   [#] [0 comments] 

World Cup rant special; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

Nothing says the world cup like incessant complaining about the presence of associates, the seemingly endless format, the predictability... Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) get their rant on, covering some recent statements from ICC Chief Executive David Richardson, and the myths around larger and inclusive world cups. There is a little swearing. That out of the way, there is also a little news from the USA and Fiji (34:40).

Direct Download Running Time 37min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 9th February, 2015 09:13:26   [#] [0 comments] 

WCL2, ACC T20 and QTV Sports with Tim Brooks; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

World Cricket League Division 2 concluded with an epic final day that saw Netherlands over-take Nepal and Kenya surpass Canada to survive relegation. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to discuss what happened and the repercussions (7:20). We also look back at the Dubai Triangular (0:32) and the Asian T20 qualifier won by Oman (3:45). Some of the repercussions were shortly over-turned by an ICC about face. We go through that and the various bits of news from the ICC meeting (37:00), the tournament schedule for the coming year (52:00), and an apparent end-game for USACA. Finally we preview the cricket world cup, and the associate prospects there-in. (60:00).

Prolific writer on associate cricket and newly appointed head of cricket for QTV sports, Tim Brooks (@cricketatlas) also comes on the show to discuss some of their initiatives and the challenges of providing tv coverage in the associate world (20:00). Some technical difficultes mean the sound quality isn't great, but it is worth a listen.

Direct Download Running Time 66min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 6th February, 2015 20:45:29   [#] [0 comments] 

Second XI with Peter Miller and Tim Wigmore; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

We begin the new year with previews of some significant tournaments. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to run the rule over each team in WCL2 (0:15) and make predictions we'll come to regret. The Asian T20 Cup is also starting soon, with a smaller tournament, but as important as ever (10:15). There are also matches for the EAP team in the Australian Country Championships (12:45), and a tri-series in the UAE for the world cup qualifiers (except the UAE) (14:00). Russell than interviews the authors of a relative rarity: a book about associate cricket. Peter Miller (@thecricketgeek) and Tim Wigmore (@timwig_cricket) discuss their book Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts, how it came about, what it contains, and the challenges and opportunities in writing professionally about associate cricket. (15:30). There is news from the ICC with particular relevance to the USA, and from Nepal (38:40)

Second XI is released on January 19th. Other authors include Gideon Haigh, Sahil Dutta and Tim Brooks. Pre-orders are available. There will be a launch party at The Fentiman Arms in Oval on February 5 (@7pm to 9:30ish) where the authors will sheepishly sign copies.

Direct Download Running Time 44min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 16th January, 2015 06:36:09   [#] [0 comments] 

Prgamatism is boring, but sensible; Ratings 2nd January
Russell Degnan

3rd TestAustraliavIndia
Pre-rating1239.21088.9
Form-13.9-31.6
Expected MarginAustralia by 125 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1232.01092.7

In retrospect, Australia didn't need so many runs.

But nor did they need to win; nor did they need to give India a sniff; nor would they necessarily have prised out another four wickets with another dozen overs (a couple with the new ball notwithstanding).

They would have won anyway, had they been capable of holding a catch. Statistically a set batsman scores around his average from any point in their innings. Ergo, dropping a catch adds their average to the total; dropping five adds about 200 runs; and that was the difference between winning and drawing.

The difference between drawing and losing is largely in the opposition's hands. India began day five in a position to attack: take three quick wickets, spend all day chasing 300 odd. Marsh, whose 99 was more important than he'll probably get credit, was the only batsman standing between them and a gettable target.

But India were flat. The fielding lacked intensity, the bowling wasn't being scored off, but nor did it look threatening. They left Harris and Marsh to work singles and wait. And Australia's batsmen were happy to do so. It was a disappointing way for a match to dribble out, but as noted in the preview, India are nothing if not patchy, particularly early in the day. Kohli's almost manic intensity will be a welcome change if he can lead his team to apply it constructively.

The exception to this was Rahane, whose fieldng was so vigorous, and his desire to be involved, to talkk to his partner while batting, and to guide his team to a draw impressed in a way that the tv footage can't pick up. He batted almost as long in his second innings 48 as his first innings 147, and if his new captain has come of age on this tour, then his younger counterpart has shown he'll make a valuable lieutenant.


2nd TestSouth AfricavWest Indies
Pre-rating1300.5862.5
Form+9.7-26.3
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 269 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1293.6869.0

Rain had the final say in this match, and there is not much to write about; only 17 wickets fell just over 200 overs of play. The one important thing was that Brathwaite and Samuels both scored tons for the West Indies, taking them ast the follow-on, and leaving no doubt as to the direction of the match. An upset in the final test could push South Africa off the top of the official test standings, but there seems little chance of that.

1st TestNew ZealandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating951.01050.1
Form+38.4+16.3
Expected MarginTied Match
Actual MarginNew Zealand by 8 wickets
Post-rating968.01042.1

The lack of depth in Sri Lanka's batting continues to haunt them, especially when Sangakarra fails. Karunaratne's 152 in the second innings threatened to create a threatening target, but with only Mathews pair of 50s in support, they ultimately just didn't have enough runs.

On the other side of the ledger, McCullum continues his incredible year, this time peeling off 195 in 134 balls, while Boult and Southee have established themselves as one of the pre-eminent new-ball pairs with their movement and control. It took a big effort to back up after enforcing the follow-on, but a 300 run first innings lead is a lot to come back from. New Zealand are almost at the 1000 mark for the first time in more than a decade, and with a young team, they'll be fascinating to watch for a few years at least.


Rankings at 2nd January 2015
1.South Africa1293.6
2.Australia1232.0
3.Pakistan1106.1
4.India1092.7
5.England1084.7
6.Sri Lanka1042.1
7.New Zealand968.0
8.West Indies869.0
10.Bangladesh594.6
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4
18.Canada147.9

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 2nd January, 2015 20:08:52   [#] [0 comments] 

A few good sessions; Ratings 26th December
Russell Degnan

2nd TestAustraliavIndia
Pre-rating1244.51087.0
Form-13.6-47.3
Expected MarginAustralia by 129 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 4 wickets
Post-rating1239.21088.9

India really only lost three sessions in this match.

In the first session of day 2 they dropped from 4/311 to all out 408. They had a good, not great first day, but were well placed to make either a competitive score, or an inadequate one, and ended up with the latter.

In the first session of day 3 they let Australia move from 4/221 (then 6/247) to 6/351 (and eventually 505) with sloppy bowling that played to Johnson's considerable batting strengths, and not his equally considerable weaknesses.

In the first session of day 4 they collapses from 1/71 to 7/157 to Johnson and Hazlewood and the match was effectively over.

There are a couple of things to take out of that. The first is that Johnson and Hazlewood (indeed most quicks) are vastly more effective early in the day, when they are fresh. Vijay and Pujara very successfully negotiated Johnson on the first day - though he was far from his best. On subsequent days they let Australia get on a roll and noone seemed capable of stopping it.

The second is that Australia are pretty vulnerable, but have match winners, and in home conditions that has been enough in recent times. That each decisive session was at the start of the day points to a laxity of preparation or mindset (off-field events on day four in particular seemingly unsettling). The collapse on day four in Adelaide was similarly damaging, and as in Brisbane, decided the match.

India aren't a million miles from winning matches in this series, notwithstanding that their bowlers have been generally poor. Melbourne will offer a little more, and they could come back to tie this series. But to do so they need to grind their way through important sessions. So far they've shown only an ability to gift Australia key advantages with loose play.

3 TestsSouth AfricavWest Indies
Pre-rating1289.1870.2
Form-17.7-6.7
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 257 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by an innings and 220 runs
Post-rating1300.5862.5

In the end, the expected margin was a grossly inadequate prediction. The West Indies had a good first hour and a bit, taking 3/57, and were never sighted thereafter. The loss of Roach hurt, as neither Taylor nor Cottrell could stem the runs or apply pressure, but Amla (208) and de Villiers (152) may have done the same to any attack, such is their skill.

It is unfortunate we'll never get to see them against their own, as Steyn, Philander and Morkel offer different tests of skill and mettle. In this case, the West Indies failed first to prevent Philander's constant probing from finding their outside edge; then in the second, with Steyn's pace and bounce, as they capitulated after following-on. It would be foolhardy to predict anything but a similar (if slightly less emphatic) result in the second test.

2 TestsNew ZealandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating951.01050.1
Form+38.4+16.3
Expected MarginTied Match

I couldn't resist predicting this as a tie, as the ratings so rarely predict them. Technically, New Zealand are very slight favourites. Given their recent form, and impressive comeback in the UAE; as well as the clear home advantage that they carry, and Sri Lanka's dismal touring record, this ought to be a comfortable victory. A team that was talented but young a couple of years ago is now finding their way in test crcket and producing not only performances, but increasingly results. Sri Lanka are a side increasingly capable of surprising. They had a very good 2014, defeating England away, and had both a narrow loss to South Africa and narrow victories over Pakistan at home. They too often depend on Sangakarra and Mathews to score their runs, and Herath to take their wickets, but Eranga and Pradeep showed they could exploit more helpful conditions in England and might do so again. Their biggest issue is likely to be that a 2-day warm-up is insufficient preparation to face a confident home side. Look for New Zealand to continue their ascension.


Rankings at 26th December 2014
1.South Africa1300.5
2.Australia1239.2
3.Pakistan1106.1
4.India1088.9
5.England1084.7
6.Sri Lanka1050.1
7.New Zealand951.0
8.West Indies862.5
10.Bangladesh594.6
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4
18.Canada147.9

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 25th December, 2014 12:05:52   [#] [0 comments] 

End of Year Review; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to look back on some of the major themes of the past 12 months: promotion of associate cricket (14:40); the ascension of associate teams to test status (25:25); some of our highlights and players of the year (35:15); and the state of A+A cricket (46:30). There are a couple of tournament reviews, with the Africa Women's Trophy that serves as the regional qualifier (0:20) won by Zimbabwe, and Africa U/19 Girls won by Uganda (05:35), and a women's tournament in the gulf, won by the UAE (07:35). Afghanistan completed their tour of the UAE (10:00) but lost the series; and Kenya turned in some very poor results against Pakistan A (12:48). There is also governance news from Nepal (50:40), more proposed tournaments of questionable value in Canada and Europe (52:50), and some emerging opportunities for players and umpires in full member nations (59:15).

Direct Download Running Time 64min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 24th December, 2014 22:22:06   [#] [0 comments]