Africa Division 1 T20, Wisden CRTW with James Coyne; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

As has become a tradition, assistant editor of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, James Coyne (@coynejames), joins us to discuss the Cricket Round the World section some of the interesting historical entries in the supplementary obituaries, and the increasingly global stance of the Wisden Almanack. (25:35) Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) review the African Division One T20 qualifiers won by Namibia on an extraordinary final day, as well as the attached WCL6 qualifier won by Botswana. (0:30) They take a final look at the world cup, discussing what we should aim for in a format, and why a 20 team world cup is the best of many possible options. (7:35) Much of the news has to wait for the ICC conference to leak out, but there is still news from USACA (0:48:30), we touch on Richie Benaud's role as the patron of French cricket (0:54:40), discuss the grants available to EAP members (0:58:30) and note the retirement of Binod Das (1:00:40).

Direct Download Running Time 62min. 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 17th April, 2015 01:14:07   [#] [3 comments] 

A new season; Ratings 13th April
Russell Degnan

3 TestsWest IndiesvEngland
Pre-rating872.41084.7
Form+1.7+40.2
Expected MarginEngland by 56 runs

Apparently test cricket is still a thing. England will be desperate to return to its longer certainties after a long winter hiatus from the form that amounted to nothing. When they last took the field they made a mess of India - which is still reflected in their form - but their rating still puts them as a middling side. Favourites, but with the potential to lose if the West Indies hit their straps.

For their part, and perhaps for the first time in a decade, the West Indies are fielding something approaching a proper pace bowling unit. In Roach, Taylor and the impressive young Holder there is the possibility of regularly taking 20 wickets. Unfortunately, a weak batting lineup further gutted by the IPL, and as dependent on the ageless Chanderpaul as ever, wont regularly produce defendable targets. An upset win is a possibility, but it won't be just the new ECB chairman looking askance if England don't win.


4th TestAustraliavIndia
Pre-rating1232.01092.7
Form-17.8-16.1
Expected MarginAustralia by 120 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1225.81094.5
Series rating1199.41129.9

Maybe a little delayed, but there wasn't much to say about any of these post-new year tests. India, with Kohli in supreme form (and newly appointed captain) continued their pre-new year form to thwart Australia, but never at any point in the series looked like taking enough wickets. The only possible chance at victory came in Adelaide when they were given a declaration target. The rest of their summer was spent watching Steve Smith bat, and leaving the Australian selectors the somewhat difficult choice of form batsmen to leave out when (and if) Clarke returns.

Australia's bowling wasn't as strong as they might have liked, and they showed particular weakness as the innings progressed and the lack of turn or reverse swing left them with a lot of work. There will be, again, calls to drop Lyon on the back of performances at home, but they should be resisted. Australia is a spinner's graveyard and he is the best option for the Ashes.

3rd TestSouth AfricavWest Indies
Pre-rating1293.6869.0
Form-6.7-6.7
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 262 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by 8 wickets
Post-rating1288.3872.4
Series rating1298.9864.3

South Africa came nowhere near their expected margin in this match, which perhaps is the most interesting element of an otherwise routine victory. Steyn ad de Villiers provided the bulk of the wickets and runs, and in Harmer they've found another South African spinner batsmen and fans alike will invariably under-estimate and dislike.

For a brief moment in the third innings, with Samuels and Chanderpaul at the crease, and a lead of 100, the West Indies were capable of putting South Africa under pressure. But a rash shot from Samuels after a prolonged period of accurate bowling, then a fairly abject collapse of 7/33 in 15 overs ended any chance of a contest. South Africa aren't the team they were even a year ago. But the West Indies remain a brittle and easily beaten unit.


2nd TestNew ZealandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating968.01042.1
Form+43.5-3.9
Expected MarginNew Zealand by 13 runs
Actual MarginNew Zealand by 193 runs
Post-rating986.21033.1
Series rating1190.2815.4

New Zealand ended the year on a run of form that has almost lifted them back over 1000 rating points for the first time since Shane Bond could be relied on. Like then, having an attack (or a bowler) capable of taking wickets makes all the difference; unlike then, in Williamson they have a batsman of genuine class who could raise them to heights not visited in 30 years.

Sri Lanka made them work in this match, with Lakmal and Pradeep taking seven between them, and only Williamson's 69 preventing an embarrassment as they lost 8 wickets between lunch and tea. Sri Lanka's reply of 356 looks rather better than it was purely because of Sangakarra, whose late career form continues to defy belief, and whose coming absence will be felt more than normal when a great retires.

New Zealand were four down and yet to pass Sri Lanka when Watling joined Williamson in the second innings, but 402 runs later, the match was effectively safe. It took until tea on day five to turn it into another comprehensive victory, but New Zealand are playing as well as anyone right now, and they'll offer an interesting test to England (and to the English psyche) when they travel there at the start of summer.


Rankings at 13th April 2015
1.South Africa1288.3
2.Australia1225.8
3.Pakistan1106.1
4.India1094.5
5.England1084.7
6.Sri Lanka1033.1
7.New Zealand986.2
8.West Indies872.4
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 16th April, 2015 01:57:20   [#] [0 comments] 

Development, the F1 Board Game
Russell Degnan

I can easily recall the first sporting event I was allowed to forgo "bed time" and stay up late for: the Wimbledon men's final of 1987. Whether my parents' realised it, or were merely helpless to prevent it happening anyway, this represented a watershed in what became (and has continued to be) an endless series of late-night sporting vigils for cricket, cycling, tennis, football, and in the immediate years after 1987, Formula One.

This was something of a pity though, because 1986 and 1987 represented the best two years of F1 racing for probably the next twenty-five years. Five drivers won races from four different teams in both those years, with three drivers contending for the championship decided in Adelaide in 1986. Subsequent years were less kind, as first McLaren then Williams dominated the standings.

The highpoint in my interest, and my board game making and playing, was in 1990. The cars lack any of my brother's precise (albeit much older) hand, but offset it with surprising detail in the colours and shape of the air intakes. There were plenty of teams and obscure names in those years for the aspiring anorak, and hand drawing each and every one of them was a handy starting place.

In around 1989, my brother made a wooden and paper-mache version of the board, now stored at my parents, complete with hills and painted colours. It was magnificent, but couldn't deal with number of cars, or an expanding sense of what made a good game. Other tracks were created, three A3 sheets big and coated in contact. Future board games would get cardboard backs and computer printing, but this depended on rulers and smudged ink.

Racing lines were introduced, and pass cards (for lapping vehicles). Somewhere there is a clipboard full of race results, each lap recorded against the number of turns, and the fraction of each turn used to cross the line (I can still calculate fractions for every number up to 24). Fastest lap times and time gaps, carefully recorded, and whole seasons run on the floor of a bedroom.

Probability simulations became something of a hobby as my mathematics knowledge (and my general nerdiness) increased. This came to its fullest fruition in cricket, but there were changes in F1 too. There was an obvious difference between a real race, with a small handful of passing manoeuvres in tens of laps, and a board game where a car could run back to front with a handful of lucky rolls.

Some basic ideas were developed around gears, where a car would accelerate out of corners, keeping its position; on tyre wear; and in making the better teams very slightly faster, turn on turn. There are further notes on game practice and recording results efficiently, and a multi-coloured board that made good use of a derwent pencil set.

And then? Computers happened. Microprose Grand Prix specifically, which was quicker to play, and somewhat more fun. Then serious school (sort-of) and university. The bits and pieces got filed in the cupboard, appearing only recently, when I decided to revive the board game. But that's another post.

Formula One 6th April, 2015 23:10:48   [#] [2 comments] 

World Cup Review; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

The world cup group stages ended with something of a whimper for the associates, with Ireland missing out on the knockouts and some heavy losses. Cricket Ireland media manager Barry Chambers (irishcricket1) (0:29) and Scottish head coach Grant Bradburn (Beagleboy172) (43:34) join Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) to discuss their respective team's performance; while The National (UAE) cricket journalist Paul Radley (PaulRadley) discusses the UAE with Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) (16:41). Andrew and Russell add their own comments after the interviews, looking at Afghanistan (39:27) and the overall associate performances (1:06:31). In the Americas, the Central America Championships are being played in Panama, and an unofficial combined US-Canadian womens' team travelled to Argentina to take on the Flamingos (1:16:44). There is a brief preview of the Africa Division One T20 qualifiers from South Africa (1:20:19), and some news on ICC helping fund relief efforts in Vanuatu.

Direct Download Running Time 84min. 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 25th March, 2015 23:45:47   [#] [0 comments] 

Beginnings, the F1 Board Game
Russell Degnan

The Melbourne Grand Prix will mark 30 years (minus several months) since Formula One racing returned to Australia. For young boys accustomed to watching motor racing only from Bathurst, and only in its most bogan Australian form, the mix of international drivers, gorgeous livery and high pitched squeals was something else.

Board games were a constant in our household, not least because, with books, they offered a present option for basically nerdy children. My brother was sufficiently inspired by the Adelaide GP, and his acquisition of motor magazine, to make a basic board game.

The collection below is what I still have of the original. The Bathurst influence is there in the board choice, although for (I assume) space reasons, it isn't the most accurate representation, with Skyline misplaced, and a more rectangular shape. It also pre-dates the Chase, back in the days when cars could roar down Conrad all the way to the final corner.

The board is a single A3 sheet, folded many times, with tape over the track proper to keep the paper/ink from rubbing/bleeding.

The cars of this edition were shorter (1.5cm) than later versions, and flighty - meaning they tended to blow off the board if you breathed. The top was the 1985 version of each driver, the bottom their name, team and number. Each precisely drawn as my brother tended to be. Some of them with accurate helmets - Senna, my brother's favourite driver with his yellow - and instantly recognisable. A simple piece of tape on each side finished them off, and glossed them up.

1985 liveries were special. I've never smoked a day in my life, but the colours of F1 cars in the late 1980s is indelibly printed on my memory. Today's cars that hint at that era - like the black and gold JPS Lotus are inspired nostalgia. I'm not even sure the companies themselves even exist, so thorough has been the advertising cleansing. But brand awareness: not a problem.

This was F1's greatest era, when cars could pass on multiple parts of the track; when drivers were stars (Lauda, Piquet, Prost, Rosberg, Senna, Mansell...); the season well structured and evenly contested; and the money and glamour poured in. Tactically, it was also the most interesting, with tyre changes making huge lap speed differentials, turbos making fuel management paramount, and retirements from failing equipment a constant issue. I pushed these little pieces around tracks so often I could almost name the grid of 1985 even today. Until computers took over the imagination, and barring an extended period of cricket simulation, this was my favourite game for the next half decade.

Certain aspects of the game weren't thought through in great depth. The squares on the straight are aligned, which made it hard to swing through a normal racing line. The red squares - which required picking up a card of probable danger - are randomly placed, making for annoying places where you'd seemingly randomly crash on the straight. The green cards allowed a car to pass if it had sufficient moves to do so, with some attendant risk. It made the game one of pure luck: dice and cards. But then, I played most of them by myself, so it was luck for the eponymous pieces, not myself.

By 1986, a larger board (presumed lost) and 2cm cars provided the next edition. Only one car, the paper split, remains from the set: Alan Jones Haas Lola.

But there were plenty more to come...

Formula One 11th March, 2015 21:22:19   [#] [0 comments] 

Review: Whitewash to Whitewash - Daniel Brettig
Russell Degnan

Whitewash to Whitewash is not actually a book about the Australian team as a flawed hero who overcomes. But it could be. Like our archetypical hero, the Ashes defeat of 2005, at the tail-end of an extended run as the most dominant side of that, and perhaps any, era, came as a call: to regain the Ashes, and pride.

Daniel Brettig, who I suspect I joined as the only other member of a club who wrote their first overseas match report from Kinrara Oval, begins the narrative at the dream stage, but dwells less on the victory than the retirements that followed. It would be easy to be harsh on the selectors for not managing the process. But as Brettig details the reasons for each, there was an inevitability to the break-up of this side, driven by the time-line of the Ashes loss to later victory, and the dynamic of the team. When Healy and Mark Waugh were tapped, there were ready made (superior) replacements. But except for Martyn, that wasn't the case here. Not Langer, whose absence would only have destabilised Hayden earlier, nor Gilchrist, Warne and McGrath, who were irreplacable. Injuries did for MacGill and Lee; noone could have predicted the form slumps of Ponting and Hussey that contributed so much to the uncertainty.

It is a testament to the research and writing, that the chronicle of the period of frustration and unchecked decline that followed maintains its balanced and even reporting. The breakdown in trust following Monkey-gate and subsequent disengagement of Symonds is covered in depth, as is the rise of cliques amongst the squad, and the problems of selection and leadership from the Ashes loss of 2009 to the disasters of Boxing Day 2010. The book works through each and every step of those four years that eventually led to this:

"Nothing about the Test team functioned properly. Batsmen were unprepared for England's plan, bowlers incapable of carrying out their own. Fielding and running between the wickets were never better than average, often catastrophic. Ponting's form evaporated and his composure followed, while his deputy Michael Clarke, fared almost as poorly. The coach, Tim Nielsen, and his assistants seemed unable to tackle the problems before them, whether through technical advice or sage readings of the team's darkening mood. And the selectors abandoned many of the players and the plans honed over the preceding eighteen months, leaving the likes of Phillip Hughes, Steve Smith, Xaxier Doherty and Michael Beer to squint at the harsh light of Ashes exposure. Not surprisingly, none were able to conjure the miracles suddenly required of them."

It would have been easy (and better suited to the narrative) to maintain a triumphalist tone across the resolving chapters, concluding as they do with aggressive winning cricket under a new coach and captain, defeating England 5-0 and regaining the number one ranking away in South Africa. Brettig wisely doesn't:

"It cannot be disputed that between November 2013 and March 2014 Australia's Test side played the most powerful and compelling cricket mustered by the baggy green at any time since Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer all bowed out on the same day in Sydney seven years before. But the achievements were those of the moment, and any groundwork for longer-term success remains some way from bedding down. After the travails of India, CA - its board, management, selectors, and coaches - focused all their energies completely on regaining the Ashes. The victory in South Africa was a capstone on that achievement, proving that Australia had indeed reached a very high level of proficiency, albeit in conditions that largely suited them."

These seven years were the most interesting in Australian cricket since 1984-1994, that stretched from the retirements of Lilee, Chappell and Marsh to that of Border, tragically short of his triumphant moment, but with a conveyor-belt of incredible talent left to his successor. Australia has no such certainties in its next few years, and no shortage of looming retirements. Hopefully Dan is taking notes.


Interspersed with the depiction of on-field events are the equally important changes occurring off. Cricket Australia had been resting on their laurels, a monopoly sport in the summer market, and a national cultural institution still without peer. In the period since it has undergone a shift to an independent board; launched a profitable domestic competition based around cities, not states; been part of a significant political re-alignment of the ICC; shifted their touring program to accommodate the IPL, Champions League and the unmatched riches of hosting the BCCI on tour; appointed full-time selectors and a director of cricket; and experimented unsuccessfully with its talent pathways in the form of the futures league.

These are significant, even unprecedented, changes to the sport in Australia. The ramifications of most are yet to be felt. As a reference point for why many were tried, and whether they have worked to date, there is a lot to mull over in this book. A few have come and gone already, notably around the role of the captain in selections. Perhaps the most poorly thought-out was the move away from a century of tradition that promoted boys into the grades of men, in favour of pathways and the futures league. Australia has always tried to distinguish itself from England's over-coached under-competitive cricket environment, but in trying to improve on what they had, they went too far.


There is less cricket in this book than you'd expect. There is enough to provide context, but it is a book about culture and management more-so than about cricket. There are numerous fascinating vignettes of players who came and went, including many who might have felt hard-done by.

The culture of the team of the early-2000s was bound up in the legacy of Steve Waugh's captaincy. Given a choice of quality personnel, the players who stuck were those most immersed in that mindset. The era that followed seems to have struggled to reconcile other personalities. The personal struggles of Nathan Hauritz, Bryce McGain and Mitchell Johnson are evident in their on-field performance, and the weaknesses of Ponting's captaincy; Shane Watson and Andrew Symonds were given both extended opportunities and a different set of expectations, and both have encountered a different weakness in Clarke's leadership

For much of the era, the selectors themselves seemed to want to replace the irreplacable with the next best option, without considering the team around them. The squad became divided into permanent players, who no matter their form, and the team's form, seemed to remain; and temporary players, who were marked, given a role to fill, but always one match from being dropped. The difference in October 2010 between Hussey, woefully out-of-form but being backed by the selectors, and North, fresh off a hundred but sure he was going to be given only two tests, was particularly telling. The side that won in South Africa in 2009, where the enigmatic talent of Hughes and Johnson, meshed with the solid, if limited McDonald and North, was never seen on the field again. It was a false dawn, not only in performance, but in pragmatic, considered choices.

In the period since the Ashes whitewash we've seen Australia suffer their biggest statistical defeat in any series, against Pakistan in the UAE. A series that saw Maxwell promoted to number three, Johnson used as a cart-horse, and the limitations of the squad laid bare. The looming Ashes series means making a number of not only hard decisions, but decisions the public takes an interest in. There is a lot of luck to whether a selection will pan out, but there is none in the process. It is still quite unclear whether Australia has learnt from the mistakes in process that characterised the era in question. Brettig withholds his opinion on many of the decisions made in this book. But you can sense the disapproval.


Even at its worst, Australia has too much strength in depth, too much talent, to be really bad. This is a book packed with lessons, though many of them might be gleaned from any era, and it isn't clear they'll be learnt. The treatment of spinners, and the selection lottery that sees them brought into the side on half a dozen Shield appearances, is consistent either side of the Warne era; as too is the quixotic search for an all-rounder, when four bowlers is deemed too few. It is, nevertheless, amongst only a handful of books that have ever tried to find out what those lessons might be, and for that reason it is worth a read.

Cricket - Articles 8th March, 2015 19:21:45   [#] [0 comments] 

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+6x26x436-122.5
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   [#] [2 comments]