‘Big Three’ still cricket’s dominant powers

By ScoreLine Desk - July 9, 2019

*Manchester:* They may have each had some slip-ups along the way, but it is
perhaps no surprise that cricket’s three wealthiest nations — England,
India and Australia — are in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

The tournament, which will generate some £400 million ($500 million) in
broadcast revenues alone, is key in funding the International Cricket
Council’s work in developing the sport.

Yet most of the money still finds its way to cricket’s richest countries.

In the 2016-23 broadcasting cycle, of which the 2019 and 2023 World Cup are
the key events, some 93 “associate” or junior cricket nations stand to
receive £175 million from the ICC, whereas India will get £320 million
alone.

While the ‘Big Three’ are able to strike lucrative domestic broadcasting
deals as well, teams based in poorer local economies such as South Africa
and the West Indies are struggling to compete.

They face the constant threat of players quitting international cricket to
pursue more lucrative careers in one of the numerous Twenty20 franchise
competitions that have sprung up following the huge success of the Indian
Premier League.

When promising South Africa fast bowler Duanne Olivier announced he was
halting his Proteas career to join English county side Yorkshire, it
prompted West Indies captain Jason Holder to call in February for the ICC
to introduce a minimum wage for international cricket.
– ‘Biggest issue’ –

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, speaking last week before his side
ended their World Cup campaign in the group stage, said: “Looking at the
one-day side, your players that will move on from the Proteas would
potentially move on to the T20 circuit.

“That will become the biggest issue for us to try and stay away from for
all players. And that’s including myself.”

New Zealand, the fourth-placed qualifier for the semi-finals, were quicker
than most to adapt the realities of the modern game by allowing top players
to feature in the IPL, although they were helped by the lack of a clash
with their domestic season.

They are proof of how a team boasting a relatively small playing base can,
with good talent identification and organisation, remain competitive on the
world stage.

But for countries trying to manage larger cricket populations against a
background of economic weakness, the situation remains complicated.

Cricket South Africa is one of a number of national boards who are simply
unable to offer their players anything like the money available in T20
leagues or county cricket.

And while du Plessis would be delighted if Holder’s call was acted upon, he
was pessimistic about the chances of a major financial shift anytime soon.

“That is the perfect world, but we don’t live in a perfect world,” he said.

“Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies and Pakistan: I think all of us fall
into the same category, like maybe your second-tier nations and then you
get your top tier which is a little bit different.

“West Indies are a great example. They probably are the worst off and that
is why they have lost so many players to the circuit.

“I think England, Australia, India will always be the higher-paid nations.

“Obviously the currency is very strong but also the packages that they
(their players) get paid are obviously a lot different to your smaller
nations.

“If that changes, it will be amazing for the rest of the world, but I think
it’s a long, long way from happening.”

*@AFP*

By ScoreLine Desk

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