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    March 15, 2007

    Why this could be the last World Cup in the Caribbean

    I fear know that the Caribbean will not get to host any more World Cups. There is a one word reason - television. When the West Indies won the World Cup hosting rights in 1998, cricket was not the huge 'made-for-TV' spectacle that it is now. Fights for TV rights were unheard of and Kerry Packer happened two decades earlier.

    It was perhaps only around the late 90s, when India began to have a consumerism boom that media magnates felt that the best way to make money out of cricket was to ensure that they had the TV rights for internationals (preferably only ODI cricket, if that was possible). The next bunch of people who realized that there was money to make from cricket telecast in India were manufacturers of consumer goods (bikes, soaps, televisions, soft drinks, etc.). The enormous power that they wielded, as a result of sinking in a lot of moolah into cricket telecasts and advertising, meant that the game transformed from being a spectator sport to being an audience sport and the emphasis firmly shifted from test cricket to one-day cricket.

    As a result, games were scheduled based on ideal slots for television, rather than on the basis of what the best time to play the game was. In Australia, viewers frequently complain (or used to) that Channel 9 switched to the news or some other TV show if the day's play got extended for some reason or the other. So, Cricket Australia advanced the starting time by half an hour. I think this year's Ashes series was the first time this happened. During the 2003 World Cup, most games, including the final, were day games. Day games started at 8 am GMT while day-night games started at 1230 pm GMT. The primary reason was that day-night games would only start around 6 pm IST and end around 2 am IST the next day.

    Such a schedule was clearly unacceptable to the primary sponsors of the tournament (LG, Pepsi, Hero Honda etc.) whose aim was to ensure that the huge TV audience in India (Bangladesh, Pakistan & Sri Lanka were never going to be talked of in the same breath) got to see the games during their daytime when they could pummel the audience with two ads after every over/wicket and several others during other breaks of play.

    I'm sure there are several other instances of television/production houses dictating cricket schedules. The Indian cricket team does have a few chaps who can bat and bowl and play some attractive cricket. That is just one part of the reason why they play in Ireland, Holland, Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. That is also why other boards queue up to have India play on their shores more often than others.

    Given that TV rights and advertising revenue accounts for a major portion of the revenues that cricket boards get from cricket, it is fairly obvious that they will do just about what is required to ensure that the major TV audience watches games at a convenient time.

    This World Cup's games start at 8 pm IST and go on until around 4 am IST. This is as inconvenient a time as you can get, for Indian audiences. It is for this reason that I'm fairly sure that this will be the last World Cup that the West Indies gets to host.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 8:19 PM |
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    9 sledge(s):

    only *YOU* can think of such things. keep it up, anyway - arrrgh!

    By Blogger Ganesh (15-Mar-2007, 9:19:00 PM)  

    Speaking here from the Caribbean, I think that the West Indies will host the World Cup once again. The next available World Cup will be in 2023 and I would think that at least by then we will have regular day/night matches. That would allow for matches to be seen in India and elsewhere at a more convenient time.

    By Blogger Rain, No Play (16-Mar-2007, 12:58:00 AM)  

    Most of the NatWest series ODIs against India this summer as day/nighters. Doesn't that make them less convenient for Indian TV than day matches? I suppose this is because it's sponsored by a UK company?

    By Blogger Geoff (16-Mar-2007, 7:05:00 AM)  

    Sean - Day/night games in WI would actually turn out to be as bad for India viewers. They'd start close to midnight IST and end around 7 am. That's not ideal either.

    geoff - 3 out of 7 are day-nighters. Surely they'd have to cater to the local TV audience too! The WI lacks the volumes of a local TV audience (compared to the UK for sure), and by all accounts, the prices for cricket viewing in the US/Canada are way too high.

    By Blogger Jagadish (16-Mar-2007, 12:12:00 PM)  

    For England... Day games are pretty much like Day/Nighters would be for them. They start at about 13:30, and end about 23:00.

    In SA the games start at 16:30 and end just after midnight. It's not convenient, but it's not bad.

    Moving it to Day/Nighters will only make it better for Australian viewers. IND, PAK and SL pretty much has a raw deal anyway.

    But it's good for the game that there is globalization. And I hope to see Cananda, Bemuda, Ireland and many of the minnows host world cups in the future.

    WI will again host it. Pretty sure about it.

    By Blogger Reenen (16-Mar-2007, 12:43:00 PM)  

    Oops, I thought I saw four of the day/night symbols.

    Reenen: exactly. Day/nighters in the Caribbean are far worse for England fans, and no better for those on the subcontinent.

    Jagadish: what if there's any kind of improvement in the game in the USA in the next 20 years or so? Sufficient to, say, joint-host with the Windies?

    By Blogger Geoff (16-Mar-2007, 4:51:00 PM)  

    As far as hosting World Cups is concerned, there only a couple of countries with a realistic chance (and here I exclude Kenya, Zimbabwe & Bangladesh since they already have/will be) are Ireland & Holland (for 2015) and USA & possibly Canada if the WI gets the event again. I don't think cricketing ability has any sort of linkage with hosting a tournament, especially given that spectators at the ground matter less nowadays.

    Curious to know, what was the USA's ranking when they were awarded the 1994 FIFA World Cup?

    The other thing that could happen is that if more countries become better at cricket, the Twenty20 World Cup becomes far more important. Perhaps the main countries will contest the ODI World Cup and everyone contests the ChwentyChwenty one.

    By Blogger Jagadish (16-Mar-2007, 6:34:00 PM)  

    They were about 25th in the world. But football's world rankings go down past 200, so that's actually pretty high, as opposed to cricket, where it isn't even on the map!

    So countries would, in theory, go from playing Twenty20 to ODIs to Tests as they improved? Interesting.

    By Blogger Geoff (16-Mar-2007, 7:06:00 PM)  

    No. I don't think more countries will play test cricket. Experiments with bringing in Zimbabwe (not because they can't play, but because they've lost personnel bigtime) and Bangladesh (because they're still finding their feet) into test cricket haven't succeeded. With one-dayers, there've been at least _some_ upsets/close fights by the weaker teams.

    So I suspect ODIs are about the maximum these minor teams will play. Unless 3-day or 4-day cricket becomes an established intermediate form of the game (between ODIs and tests)

    By Blogger Jagadish (16-Mar-2007, 8:01:00 PM)  

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