Despite much internal turmoil in the International Cricket Council (ICC), which also saw the CEO displaced, the alternate commercial view of having a white-ball world event every year has prevailed in its boardroom.
With less acrimony among member boards today, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) being less confrontational has allowed the formula to be passed smoothly. The announcement came on Tuesday when the schedule for the next cycle of events was also put out.
This was far removed from the earlier disruption that saw the ICC-BCCI letter wars over tax disputes, tournament window, etc. BCCI even floated a four-nation super series in a bid to tap into sponsorship revenue it saw being weaned away by ICC.
With only the Big Three cricket boards (India, England, Australia) having attractive bilateral broadcast deals, the other boards more dependent on revenue from ICC events will benefit from having one global event every year as well as expanded fields for ODI and T20 World Cups. The formula still does not guarantee an equitable ecosystem.
An immediate fallout would be India’s bilateral calendar becoming less inclusive; the lucrative opportunity for smaller boards to host India could become more scarce. Many boards would begin to design their white-ball bilateral cricket schedules to boost the team’s prospects for the ICC event that year.
ICC has always wanted to stage one global event annually. There were ICC events right through 2009 to 2017, when the last Champions Trophy edition was played. In 2018 when they were no ICC events, India toured South Africa, England and Australia, making a case for reciprocal tours, which generate revenue. Such instances will now come down.
In a sport where commercial conflicts of club versus country are at a nascent stage, ICC events every year will compete with the T20 leagues every powerful board now has. With four T20 World Cups, two ODI World Cups and two Champions Trophy editions in the fresh eight-year cycle (2024-31), ICC events become attractive buys for broadcasters.
Individual boards are striving every day to expand their T20 leagues. IPL too is eyeing an expansion. ECB’s The Hundred starts this summer. Both competitions face the challenge of player availability this year. With the playing calendar so congested, and only so many quality T20 players on offer, this will remain a continuous struggle.
On the face of it, BCCI seems to have lost ground. However, board officials harp on improved relations with member boards, explaining why they have refrained from a confrontation with ICC as in the past. “The reason we could stage IPL last year and early this year despite the pandemic with all international players available was because of our relation with member boards,” said a BCCI official. “We are in talks to get maximum players available in the second leg of IPL in September too. With long-term focus, we need to work together.”
An ICC tournament every year though means the rights value of IPL and India’s bilateral matches is likely to be affected with effectively only two major broadcasters in the fray.
THREE FORMATS CO-EXISTING
“There are three formats, and each should have a reason to exist. The asset is limited, which is the players, who can only play a certain number of days in a year,” Sanjog Gupta, Star India’s Sports head, said recently. “You can’t keep expanding the number of days you play.”
ICC’s expanded events cycle now attempts to address this issue. With four T20 World Cups (2024, 26, 28, 30) in eight years, inviting 20 teams for the first time, T20 clearly becomes the engine of growth. The depth in cricket’s neglected associates will be tested though.
With the return of the popular Champions Trophy (2025, 2029), and with World Cup in 2027 and 2031, there will be four 50-overs global events. Four World Test Championship rounds have also been preserved, keeping the hope that cricket’s most skilled but time-consuming pursuit still has takers. There is unlikely to be a compulsion on every team to play the other—India and Pakistan did not meet in the first cycle which will end with the final between Virat Kohli’s men and New Zealand at Southampton from June 18. Stronger Test teams will continue to play marquee bilateral series.
INDIAN MARKET FORCE
Cricket’s heavy dependence on the Indian market is unlikely to change. Men’s world events will continue to be hosted by boards with deeper pockets. This is where the richer boards have stymied move to globalise hosting of ICC men’s events. “There is a smaller pool of countries with the infrastructure needed to host our senior Men’s events, which narrows the selection process,” ICC acting CEO Geoff Allardice said in a statement.
In the current rights cycle (2015-23), three of the seven ICC events are being hosted by India and two each by Australia and England. With New Zealand and West Indies at a disadvantage due to unfavourable time zones for the Indian viewer and Pakistan yet to return to international cricket in a full-fledged manner at home, the world order is unlikely to change soon.
T10 AT BAY
There is no mention of cricket’s entry into Olympics, but work is on to introduce it at 2028 Los Angeles. Indications from internal consultations are that T20 is the format of choice, with ICC keeping away from T10 cricket, at least for the next eight years.
Please sign in to continue reading
- Get access to exclusive articles, newsletters, alerts and recommendations
- Read, share and save articles of enduring value