ACA Propose Premier League Of International Cricket — 11/06/2003
The One-day International cricket schedule is becoming increasingly hectic and dis-jointed, despite this being contrary to the recommendations from Sir Paul Condon’s report on corruption in international cricket. Tim May, the CEO of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, (and Chief Executive of FICA) reveals on cricnet an alternative suggestion that would revolutionize One-day International cricket as we know it.
Outgoing ICC President Malcolm Gray recently stated that significant problems exist with the game internationally. Mr. Gray’s main concern was that the one-sided nature of the majority of matches in recent times was damaging the game abroad and may affect Australia adversely in the not too distant future.
The Australian Cricketers’ Association agrees with Mr. Gray that the game is being damaged by an unprecedented spate of one-sided matches across the globe.
The essence of any sporting competition in the eyes of the ultimate stakeholder (the spectator) is not knowing who is going to win. Take that uncertainty out of the equation and no matter what the sport, you are set for a declining interest level.
Whilst Mr. Gray acknowledges that cricket has the potential to be damaged by these uneven contests — the actions of the games’ governors have done nothing to help matters.
Their reaction has been to schedule more cricket.
Obviously there are measures being applied to make other countries more competitive and the competition as even as possible. But the fact is that in their own analysis, cricket authorities have identified that the product of cricket is potentially damaged by the over scheduling of matches, yet they continue to put more of it out there for us to consume.
The World Cup consisted of more games than ever. The Champions Trophy consisted of more games than ever. The implementation of the Ten Year Programme compels countries to play more cricket than ever (and arguably more cricket than ever against significantly weaker opposition) and the rate of one off tournaments being played continues to grow, despite the recommendations of Lord Condon to resist such one off tournaments.
So why this glut of cricket? The answer is simple...money.
More Cricket = More Money
Money pressures are being felt by numerous Boards. Lower than expected dividends from their participation in the World Cup due to anticipated claims against the ICC from global partners of the World Cup, local currencies strengthening against the US dollar; and a drop or “leveling off” in the value of sporting rights, have all led Governing Bodies to assess their revenue shortfalls and take action. The action they have taken is to schedule more cricket.
It is widely accepted that One Day cricket has been the saviour of Cricket in terms of revenue streams into the game. It has also generated a flow on effect in active support for Test cricket.
One Day cricket is cricket’s blue chip product, in terms of revenue streams.
Yet what is cricket doing to protect the product’s integrity, to effectively plan to ensure the value of the product is optimised?
The extension of the One Day game, apart from the introduction of World Cups, has largely been an unstructured exercise.
A series here and a series there, some best of five, some best of seven, some tri series — no real structure and apart from the sides competing, no real relevance.
It is confusing, at times boring and as Mr. Gray notes it is getting predictable.
A Possible Solution
The ACA has given consideration to this issue and has formulated a document that has been informally submitted to the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) and the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The document is a model that has been designed to stimulate thought and to propose a possible solution to the problems inherent in the current ODI structure.
This model proposes a significant departure from cricket’s tradition. In essence, our model involves the following:
• the format would basically be a Premier League style of competition ie a competition every year where one nation is crowned the champion ODI team;
• there would be 11 teams in the competition and each country would play 30 games (i.e. three against each of the other ten teams);
• there would be a relegation and promotion system so as to encourage the developing nations;
• they would play each team once at home, once away and once at a neutral venue;
• each country would host 15 games for the year i.e. ten home games and five neutral games;
• each country would get to see every other country play two games in their country (one against home country and one against another neutral country); and
• ODI cricket as we know it would be totally scrapped i.e.this 30 round competition would replace all other ODI cricket.
The benefits of this model are:
• gives meaning to ODI cricket therefore it will produce a more exciting competition;
• financial benefits — indications are that this property would command far greater media rights and sponsorship monies;
• the spectators in each country would be able to see each team every year;
• provides development opportunities for emerging cricket nations; and
• less anti-corruption issues as every game would have meaning;
Worth The Journey
We at the ACA understand that the game is traditionally based and that the ACA’s proposal may attract resistance from many in cricket circles.
If One Day cricket was to be invented tomorrow and you wanted to optimise revenues and spectator interest; what would you propose — a structured competition or a series of ad hoc, largely unrelated tournaments on a year by year basis?
Despite many impediments, we believe that in the long-term interests of the game it is worth the journey.