## Redistribution but no Growth in Crickets Pie Russell Degnan

If one was to go off the most recent financial reports of Australia or England or India and you'd conclude that cricket's financial health has never been better. Total revenue has been increasing, almost as quickly as in the recent past. But scratch down below and the story is not as pretty. The ICC is scaling back tournaments, denying opportunities for international play to roughly a third of its members. At least five full member cricket boards border on bankruptcy, with another facing a crippling loss if India refuse to tour.

Meanwhile, the BCCI looks at the ICC dividend - a full 75% of revenue amongst the ten most privileged members - does some sums, and concludes that, as Indian fans are the major source of revenue, and as those fans mostly want to watch India, that they are entitled to much more.

The article cites La Liga as a model, referencing the larger tv rights deals negotiated by Barcelona and Real Madrid, for their own home games. It isn't clear if this is the BCCI view, though as Gideon Haigh notes, there is an underlying view that the BCCI's control over revenue affords it the same position as the NBA, NFL or other major sporting league.

The problem is that these analogies are both broken and actively destructive.

Let's start with La Liga. The first thing to note is that the BCCI (and the ECB and CA) already has a better position than either Barcelona or Real Madrid. Not only do they control their home tv revenues, they get to modify the fixture to suit their own purposes. Want to play El Clasico ten times in one season? Done. Over a five period, from October 2010 to October 2015, England, Australia and India will play 47 tests against each other; I don't even want to count how many ODIs. The gradual replacement of other fixtures with those between the big-3 has meant there is now roughly double the number of these matches against any comparable period. European football's giants don't entertain playing that level of glamour fixtures in their wildest dreams.

The second thing to note is that every commentator agrees that La Liga's financial model is hopelessly broken. That the league has become uncompetitive with most clubs mired in debt. That the inequitable tv deal is so bad there was a threatened strike before the start of the season. TV revenues for La Liga are only fourth largest as well; despite the quality on display. And this is a model for cricket?

On the right is what baseball looked like in 1875, before they realised that having one team play six times as many games as another, leveraging their success for solid profits, while others quit half-way through the season for lack of funds, was not in the best interests of the league, the teams in it, and the sport generally. Cricket is a 135 years behind other major sports in terms of the structure of its scheduling and the means by which that structure adds context and financial stability to its participants. And it is getting worse, not better, driven by the schemes of its most secure participants.

The major difference between cricket and other sports is obviously its international flavour. Numerous sports economists - Szymanski is the most cited - have commented on the difficulties of international (representative) sports compared to domestic (franchise) structures. Notably with uneven competition, the waste of talent unable to gain representation and the inefficiency of multiple stadiums being used for a few days per year. The IPL gets around some of these issues, as does the BBL and other T20 leagues. Their success would leave open the possibility of player wages being paid by domestic competition, and the international arm of the sport making only enough money to pay for its structures. But in order to achieve that, they need to be integrated with each other; and that is not happening; instead each tries to cannibalise the other, leaving both poorer for it.

There is another element to these leagues that we are decidedly not seeing in the case of the cricket governance. The NBA, EPL and others care first and foremost about their product, its growth, and development. They are aggressively targeting emerging East-Asian markets; they push to find players in any pocket of the world, and bring them into their league; they work on competitive balance and fixturing to chase market appeal and increase total revenue. Cricket, be it the ICC, the BCCI, ECB, CA or the other full members summarily fails to build its product. They are engaged in a game of redistribution, chasing every last piece of the Indian/Ashes market through whatever means gains them some access, destroying the good-will of fans with endless repetition of fixtures with barely a point.

If the BCCI wants to control cricket then they have that option. They have the market strength and sufficient control over the major stars of its biggest market to pursue that end. But that control comes with a need to actually develop cricket, as a product, not just at grass-roots level or by advancing the prospects of their national team. They have an enormous head start in the Indian market, but as ex-pat Indians return from Europe and the USA, and as the satellite dishes of the youth increasingly turn to what is globally popular, cricket's lead disintegrates.

Cricket's biggest threat won't come from the internecine fighting amongst the boards; it will come from globally dominant sports that have better products to sell. And cricket, great sport that it is, has a rubbish product to sell. Over-long events, uncompetitive structures, no context to fixtures, lack of media access to players, incoherent last-minute fixturing and an obsession with local appeal over the total package.

If the ICC executive board cannot organise itself sufficiently to fix the product and make it competitive; then the players need to realise that their livelihood is damaged from the incompetence above and break with the boards. It was players who invented modern cricket; they remain the star turn, the indispensable part of the appeal; and as with the ATP forty years ago, and twenty years ago, they are not being served by the administrators who ought to be doing the job. And if not them, then who?

Cricket - Articles 18th September, 2013 03:06:49   [#] [4 comments]

## Guernsey, USA and Ireland with David Piesing, Jamie Harrison, Ger Siggins and Justin Smyth; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast Russell Degnan

Another enormous show, with news of almost every region. David Piesing of the Guernsey Cricket Board (@guernseycricket) chats to Andrew Nixon about the Inter-insular match against Jersey. President of the USYCA and new Chief Executive of the American Cricket Federation, Jamie Harrison (@JamieCricketUSA) discusses the organisation's plans and goals, and how they differ from the USACA. We wrap up the end of the Irish international season; Ger Siggins (@Siggo) chats about the English match and tensions between Cricket Ireland and their larger neighbour; and Justin Smyth (@justinsmyth1) talks to us about the Scottish WCL and I-Cup fixtures, and the prospects of both sides in their off-season. There is news of both the women's and men's teams of Namibia; the Hong Kong sixes are officially not on this season; and we wrap up the Dutch tour of Canada, and preview the important final matches of UAE and Afghanistan in the WCL.

Direct Download Running Time 80min. 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 September, 2013 13:51:54   [#] [1 comment]

## Zimbabwes elastic snaps, Ratings 9th September Russell Degnan

1st TestZimbabwevPakistan
Pre-rating546.01120.9
Form-4.9-2.9
Expected MarginPakistan by 237 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 221 runs
Post-rating546.81119.7

A match that for three and a half days tempted us with a monumental upset ended up with Zimbabwe crawling past the expected margin 9 wickets down - cricket with handicaps anyone? For a time it was Saeed Ajmal versus Zimbabwe, scoring 49 to spark a late revival, and taking 7/95 to keep the lead to just 78 runs when it threatened to be 150 plus. At stumps on day 3, the Pakistan lead was 90 ith six wickets in hand. A Younis Khan double ton later, supportd wth 64 from Adnan Akmal, and the chase was 342 runs. Zimbabwe's collapse to Saeed Ajmal (4/23) and Abdur Rehman (4/36) was to be expected perhaps, but wihout Taylor or Jarvis, this was perhaps a better result than they might have hoped. Their batting - particularly the openers - continue to fight and claw to stay in the match, and their bowling is tight if unthreatening. Pakistan are much too good a side to lose to a side with these limitations, and yet, but for Saeed Ajmal, they might have done so. Top-order collapses continue to haunt them, after the debacle in South Africa last summer, and while another rout is likely on the same ground when they resume; Pakistan will need more players contributing when they meet South Africa.

Rankings at 9th September 2013
1.South Africa1324.6
2.England1217.2
3.Pakistan1119.7
4.Australia1099.8
5.India1096.3
6.Sri Lanka997.9
7.West Indies963.8
8.New Zealand877.4
12.Zimbabwe546.8

10.Afghanistan575.7
11.Ireland558.9
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia405.9
15.Kenya287.0
16.U.A.E.235.0
17.Netherlands182.4

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 10th September, 2013 01:59:22   [#] [0 comments]

5th TestEnglandvAustralia
Pre-rating1218.91097.8
Form+1.1-19.6
Expected MarginEngland by 111 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1217.21099.8
Series rating1246.91072.9

Contrived and controversial finish in unusual circumstances. The end to this game was a microcosm of the series itself. England on top, but barely, and through a combination of good fortune and doing enough when required, rather than by the amount the three-nil margin suggests. The series rating shows that both sides played very much as predicted. England's home advantage, greater experience, and higher ability told, but they only burst away in the one match, at Lord's. Their contributions were few, but decisive, and the series was in large part, half a team defeating a team of half-players.

One notable story-line in the latter half the series was England's lack of intent. Over rates continue to be abysmal, on both sides. At some level I don't care, because I'm happy with 6 hours of play, and the continual extensions are more annoying. But the constant drinks breaks and chit-chat are unnecessary, and the umpires need to be empowered to enforce strict time limits between events - 30s between deliveries, 1min between overs, with run or dismissal penalties for multiple abuses.

But England's slowness is mitigated by a number of factors. Firstly, Australia's good bowling was to blame for much of the slow scoring, even if no particular effort was made to upset that balance. Secondly, they played smart; they knew Australia would collapse, and that victory was assured when they did (and in all three losses, they did), so they played to stay in the game and waited. Thirdly, when they needed to be in the game, they did what they had to do, notably in Durham. Australia might curse the weather that ruined their best two positions, but you sense that they might have found a way to lose regardless. Finally, England had to be cautious because Harris and company put them behind in almost every innings with the new ball, and in four of five tests, on first innings. The umpires and referees let them get away with stifling the game, but England played poorly for long periods as well, and needed to scrap. That they scrapped to a dominant victory is one of the incongruities of the series.

In this test, Clarke's reputation for aggressive declarations worked against him. Far from needing to move the game along, England benefited from knowing that they'd get a chase regardless, and the more time spent batting on the last day, the smaller the chance they could lose playing for the draw, and the better the chance of a quick slog for victory. They got one, and the bad light was perhaps justice, even if the ICC continues to accept farce as a suitable end to matches.

Bell, and to a lesser extent Pietersen, was the reason for the win. Without him this series is turned around. In the past, I've not unfairly put him in the place of Pierre Bezukhov, easily led into poor shots and prone to irrational and ill-thought actions - even as recently as in India and New Zealand - and of only making runs when least required. But in a low scoring series he was head and shoulders above the next best batsman, and moreover, his runs, so effortless, came in the most important moments.

Australia had moments of brilliance surrounded by vast swathes of mediocrity. Even their bowling, brilliant as Harris was, never managed to roll England for less than 300, allowing them insufficient time to force a result. The batting order was never settled upon, and notwithstanding some better performances, is still a great concern. Watson and Smith scoring runs offers some hope that the return leg might be better, but on flatter pitches it hard to see England scoring as few runs in the top-order as here, and Australia's propensity for collapse will likely result in the same pattern: draws when the batting does well, losses when it doesn't.

England's ascendancy doesn't seem likely to last for long though, as in Anderson, Swann and Pietersen, the core of the side is at an age where injuries and form will start to slip. The inadequacy of Bairstow and the troubles of Root point to closer contests, if not in 2015, then thereafter. Australia, for their many faults, can at least point to a glut of youth, that need only mature. And ultimately, while the results didn't go their way, for long periods the matches did, which is some comfort.

Pre-rating136.5199.6
Form-14.1-18.3
Post-rating147.9182.4

A second consecutive I-Cup match from Canada that turned around their recent decline. Unlike the last match too, no rain was on hand to prevent them from completing the victory. The Netherlands have never competed well in the four day game, and they didn't here either, collapsing for 164 on day 1 to Gordon and Raza-ur-Rehman, before conceding a massive lead thanks to Gunasakera's 150 and contributions down the order. Aggressive knocks from Szwarczynski and Seelaar held off the inevitable for a time, but Gordon and Baidwan worked their way through the order. The 68 runs required was knocked off in 7.1 overs thanks to Gunasakera, again, who is finally applying his talents to making big scores.

Already a dead rubber in tournament terms, the match was mostly a warmup for the WCL matches that follow, which the Netherlands needed to win - eventually winning one and drawing on, but not without controversy. Canada's victory pushes them off the bottom of the table, leaving Netherlands with the wooden spoon. There would have been a good case for making relegation from this competition dependent on performance, and not the world cup qualifiers, if only to add some spice to this match, and those of Kenya and the UAE to follow.

2 TestsZimbabwevPakistan
Pre-rating546.01120.9
Form-4.9-2.9
Expected MarginPakistan by 237 runs

The ratings point to a thrashing, but so few tests do Zimbabwe play that it is probably not a reliable indicator. So few tests do Pakistan play that even their rating tends to be a bit random; but such is life for the two pariah nations of the test circuit. If there was money in it they'd benefit, and probably be willing, to engage more with the associate world, but there is no money in it, and both are financially strapped at best, and possibly near bankrupt.

On the pitch it is hard to see Zimbabwe scoring enough runs to get a result. Their bowling is capable - although as usual, their best players continue to look for green and pleasant lands - but only Taylor poses a significant threat of a high score, and his record is of classy one-day innings, not monumental tons. With the weather likely to be perfect, anything other than a big Pakistan victory will be a surprise; but hopefully we see some fight from the Africans.

Rankings at 2nd September 2013
1.South Africa1324.6
2.England1217.2
3.Pakistan1120.9
4.Australia1099.8
5.India1096.3
6.Sri Lanka997.9
7.West Indies963.8
8.New Zealand877.4
12.Zimbabwe546.0

10.Afghanistan575.7
11.Ireland558.9
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia405.9
15.Kenya287.0
16.U.A.E.235.0
17.Netherlands182.4