Much has been said over the past 24 hours in response to Dan Brettig’s ESPN Cricinfo piece on the ICC’s proposed event calendar for 2023-31, including the responses of many boards which came to light via Nagraj’s Gollapudi’s article today.
Leaving the proposed schedule to one side, for now.
Surely now would be the perfect time to get all stakeholders to the table to investigate the feasibility of pooling (a portion) of global rights for World Test Championship / ODI / T20I Leagues, so that the game can properly plan global schedules and maybe more importantly; support its growth through a central fund covering player wages, the costs of broadcast, etc?
While bilateral cricket may lucratively serve the short-term financial goals of the few, perhaps now – as the game sees a tug o’ war between the ICC, BCCI, its larger members, the smaller members and everyone else – those few need to look around and see that international cricket, as played in its convoluted array of home & away series, is unprofitable and eating away at the game elsewhere. It’s time to recognise the need for change.
Not only for the sake of the global game’s future, but their own long term health as well.
The writing is on the wall: bilateral cricket is making money only for a few nations, while other are left to fight over the scraps of shared broadcast revenues from playing the big teams.
ESPN Cricinfo goes as far to quote quotes one of the FM CEOs: “Costs of the cricket have been going up, the value of bilateral cricket has been going down”.
Will future fans want to watch international cricket played only by a handful of nations?
Can the major countries see this, and make the call now?!
The money is rolling into their coffers from their own franchise tournaments’ rights deals. Domestic cricket is making more for them than ever.
Could they now – recognising the creep occurring across the rest of the cricketing world – save the future of international cricket by striking a deal?
Could they now consider investing (at least a portion of) shared broadcast revenue into the international game – to everyone’s benefit? Ex Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland spoke about this four years ago.
A properly funded structure underpinning the international game would mean smaller Full members and Associate nations could better concentrate on strategies to continue developing the sport locally & regionally; not lurching from series to series, trying to secure rights deals, sometimes having to cancel tours when there’s no TV.
A revised, leaner international calendar can still leave room for the burgeoning franchise league market – this isn’t going away – but instead; international cricket would be a viable career path for more players, supported by a global wage fund.
The game needs an empowered global body. It can’t continue to be pulled from pillar to post – it needs to be allowed to operate as a global body for the global sport.
The 2015-23 income distribution has been cast four times, and with a reduced income forecast, this may be done again. This doesn’t bode well for a game – or any nation playing it – trying to set down long term plans.
Yes, this would mean some pretty hefty negotiations with the Big 3 as to interim measures as to how they can be eased off (and yes – I am well aware how much of this parallels with the climate debate!) bilateral cricket income as the value of global cricket is increased.
But it can be done.
The game needs it.