Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cricket's "Big 3" Power Grab Defies Established Sports Economics

Australia, England and India, the three biggest revenue producing nations in the world of cricket, are seeking to remodel International Cricket Council (ICC) along the lines of the UN Security Council. They are making a naked bid to get more money and power for themselves at the expense of the cricket boards of the rest of the ICC member nations including Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe.

The "Big 3" Proposal:

The proposals, written by the ICC's Finance, Commercial Affairs (FCA) committee and leaked to the media last week, calls for the formation of a four-person executive committee, on which the representative of boards of Australia, England and India would be guaranteed a seat. Only one representative from the rest of the cricketing nations combined would be selected by the three boards annually.

Would this proposal, if adopted as is, strengthen the sport of cricket? Or would it spell doom for it? Its proponents argue that the new structure would improve governance of world cricket. Cricket Australia Chairman Wally Edwards said " its approach internationally is consistent with its approach at home where we have made significant strides improving the governance of Australian cricket".

The Debate on "Big 3":

Opponents such as former Indian Premier League boss Lali Modi call it "a nail in the coffin for world game". Here are some excepts of what Modi told Hindustan Times:

“It’s a cartel, an unholy trinity and it threatens the future of the game. I’m serious. How can it possibly be good for the other Test playing nations and the associate members that these three line their own pockets. It is a scandal and it must be stopped. “They are going to kill cricket with these proposals. Great, India and England and Australia can play themselves to their heart’s content but they have put every other nation on the bread line.”

“They are saying they should have the power because they can bring greater stability but they don’t explain how they are going to do it. This is cloak and dagger stuff. Where’s the transparency? And then they say that each member will be given revenue share in line with the growth of the ICC. They are just lining their pockets".

 “You can read it yourself. It is clear in black and white. Section one, page three, point E and I’ll quote it ‘Ensuring a fair distribution of revenues, recognizing the contribution of each member to the ICC both on and off the field’. The key word there is ‘contribution’. Well, of course Indian ‘contribute’ more in terms of money than Zimbabwe. But this is totalitarian. This is about the rich getting richer and screw the rest".

“Again, a little further down. Same section, same page but point f. ‘The need to streamline bilateral cricket arrangements and ensure the on-going relevance of all these matches to ICC events and the viability of cricket in all relevant markets’. Look, we all know what streamline means in this context. It’s reducing or getting rid all together.”

Successful NFL Model:

The world's most successful sports franchise today is the National Football League (NFL) in the United States. It treats all of its 32 member teams equally with equal vote in decision making. Over 70% of its revenue is shared equally among its member teams.

NFL has a highly lucrative business because of the extraordinary popularity of football in the United States. Over nine years, starting in 2014, CBS, Fox and NBC will together will pay an average of about $3 billion a year, more than 50 percent higher than their prior deals, according to a report in New York Times. Altogether, the four networks, in addition to DirecTV, which pays $1 billion a year for its Sunday Ticket satellite package, will pay the N.F.L. more annually in TV rights than any sports league has ever been paid.

Economics of Sports:

Simon Rottenberg, an economist at University of Chicago, published what is considered as the first significant paper on the subject of the economics of sport, "The Baseball Players' Labor Market" in 1956. He stressed the importance to sporting competition of uncertainty of outcome and distribution of talent: "The nature of the industry is such that competitors must be of approximately equal ‘size’ if any are to be successful; this seems to be a unique attribute of professional competitive sports." This ‘invariance principle’ was because a league in which the strong simply soaked up all the talent would defeat itself.

Summary: 

The naked power grab by cricket boards of Australia, England and India is indeed an "Unholy Trinity". It defies the basic economics of sports as described by University of Chicago economist Simon Rottenberg. It results in unequal competition by weakening the majority of the national cricket teams by starving them of needed revenues to train, promote and reward the best and the brightest players.  It will badly hurt international cricket. PCB and other cricket boards should strongly oppose it.

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2 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan’s Road Warriors Are on Top of the #Cricket World http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/26/sports/cricket/pakistan-cricket-road-warriors-on-top-of-the-world.html?_r=0

London — Pakistan’s seven-year road trip has reached a destination few had forecast: a first-time No. 1 ranking by the International Cricket Council for five-day test matches.

Pakistan has been unable to play home tests since Sri Lanka’s team was attacked by terrorists on its way to a match in Lahore in March 2009. But it took the top spot Monday, when the match of the previous leader, India, against West Indies was effectively rained out in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

“There is no greater feeling than to achieve the number-one ranking in the most traditional and purest format of the sport,” Pakistan’s captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, told the ICC’s website. “This is what cricketers play for and want to achieve in their own careers.”

Waqar Younis, coach of the team until April 2016 and one of the greatest bowlers in Pakistan history, proclaimed “a proud moment for the whole nation.” Pakistan has never previously headed the rankings, which were introduced in 2003, although a retrospective calculation has placed it hypothetically on top for a very brief period in 1988.

The ranking also represents a huge personal achievement for Misbah, at 42 the oldest active international cricketer. He has been captain since 2010, when he was recalled to a team that was in hopeless disarray after the spot-fixing scandals that led to the banning and imprisonment of three players, including his predecessor, Salman Butt.

“I would rather give full credit to Misbah, who has shown resilience against his critics and never spoken a harsh word when things were going wrong,” Waqar said, when asked by ESPN Cricinfo about his own contribution to Pakistan’s success. “His honesty and good intent have made a huge difference, His positive intentions and his characteristics are outstanding.”

Misbah has also excelled as a batsman, scoring more than 2,200 runs at an average of 55 runs per dismissal in the 25 matches since May 2013 that count in Pakistan’s ranking. He found a remarkable lieutenant in another veteran, the 38-year-old former captain Younis Khan, who has scored nearly 2,800 runs at an average of just under 63 and played 11 innings of 100 or more — culminating in 218 in the victory over England at the Oval in London earlier this month that gave Pakistan its shot at No.1.

His team has reflected Misbah’s durability and resilience. Some critics have suggested that Pakistan’s excellent record at its home in exile in the United Arab Emirates means it has suffered little disadvantage, but Misbah rebuffed that argument after the victory at the Oval.

“Living every day away from your family and friends and playing every game away from Pakistan is really difficult. It is mentally tough,” he told journalists. “I can see my mother only once a year. I only see my sister once a year. We are out of the country all of the time.”

Pakistan has continued to grow talent. When its leading spin bowler Saeed Ajmal was banned in 2014 because of questions about his bowling action, the team called up Yasir Shah, who had no test match experience but has since taken 95 wickets in 16 matches and briefly topped world bowling rankings.

Its players, including the veterans, have confounded a previous stereotype by getting fit. They attended military training camps before the tour of England and celebrated memorable moments such as victory in the first match of the series, at London’s storied Lord’s ground, with displays of push-ups.

Riaz Haq said...

Only #SriLanka comes to #India’s #BCCI support at the #ICC meeting roll back #BigThree http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/icc-bcci-big-three-only-sri-lanka-comes-to-indias-support-4508475/ … via @IndianExpress

With the majority of the International Cricket Council (ICC) board members voting in favour of a rollback of the structure under which India was to get the lion’s share of the revenue, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s last ditch efforts to garner support failed.
India managed to get the support of Sri Lanka but it was clear that the majority of the Test nations were not in favour of the Big Three structure.
The two BCCI office bearers — treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry, joint secretary Amitabh Choudhary — who travelled to Dubai (the BCCI was represented by the Supreme Court-appointed administrator Vikram Limaye) for the ICC board meeting could not convince the other board members to defer the voting till April. The ICC will now pass the resolution during it’s next Board meeting in April.
According to a BCCI official, India is hopeful of convincing two other members to support them before the resolution is passed during the next ICC Board meeting in April. The Big Three — in which India, Australia and England — were entitled to 27.4 per cent of the total revenue from 2015-2023 cycle with India getting 20.3 percent was proposed in 2014 by the then BCCI president N Srinivasan in 2014.