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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

How cricket administrators see the game’s future in a post Covid-19 world

Like every sector, cricket will suffer as well, especially the weaker nations because of the depression caused by the outbreak. This is how top cricket administrators see the game’s future.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Updated: April 18, 2020 8:57:43 am
A new cricket world order post Covid-19, where a few countries that have enough financial wherewithals would be dominating, is unlikely. (Representational Image)

‘Big Three model didn’t benefit smaller nations’

Ehsan Mani, Chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)

At the PCB, we are preparing for the worst, but obviously (we are) hoping that it will not get as bad as that. I hope all the cricket boards are doing this. What we have done at the PCB, we have looked at a short-term plan – next three or four months – then a medium-term plan till the end of the year and then, a longer-term plan, which goes out to one year from now.

We are fortunate that our cricket season was over without having to lose so many major matches. We lost four PSL matches, that’s all. The Bangladesh tour, hopefully that will happen later on. But if a country loses big tours like say, India’s tour to another country, or England’s tour to Sri Lanka, or Australia to Bangladesh, you know they might reschedule it for next year, but if that comes at the expense of some other scheduled tour, the ripple effect would be quite big. It might take a couple of years to make up for the losses.

It’s a bit too soon now to try and gauge what will happen. But I think if things aren’t resolved by August-September, then most of the smaller countries will have serious problems. West Indies are now in the middle of their season and they don’t have any cricket. So the effect of that must be devastating on them. But the south Asian countries, their season starts in October normally. So they have a little bit of time. But there’s no guarantee that things will be OK (by then).

At the moment it’s difficult to predict how much money cricket will lose because of recession. Dynamics are very different. So it’s very difficult to put a number to it. But the main thing is that, once we resume playing cricket, I hope all the countries will cooperate and support each other to find ways (to get out of trouble). I hope they will be flexible in their itineraries.

PCB chairman MAni, IPL or Asia Cup, Asia Cup Pakistan, Pakistan vs India Asia cup, IPl 2020, Asia Cup 2020 Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani. (Source: File Photo)

A new cricket world order post Covid-19, where a few countries that have enough financial wherewithals would be dominating, is unlikely. Because none of the major cricketing countries has the sort of resources to help others. They might do it in a small way, but I cannot see them making significant contributions.

The ICC has a number of options with regards to the (upcoming) T20 World Cup. They can reschedule it, but rescheduling means bilateral tours will have to be adjusted as well. So we don’t really know the impact going forward (if the T20 World Cup is cancelled). In the worst-case scenario, if the T20 World Cup is cancelled, most of the countries will lose about $7-8 million each if the ICC couldn’t pay. But the ICC has resources and I’m sure the ICC will try to help the members.

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Whether individual boards will lose revenue in terms of sponsorships, we will find out the true impact once cricket resumes. But there’s no doubt, commercial companies are suffering and one of the easiest things is to cut their advertising budget, their commercial sponsorship budget.

The erstwhile Big Three model didn’t benefit smaller nations. Pakistan was one of the smallest beneficiaries of the Big Three. Pakistan doesn’t get the same return as it contributes. In an ICC event, when Pakistan and India play, Star earns for a 10-second slot around $35,000-40,000. If India is playing England, it would be less than half. So Pakistan is making a huge contribution.

Any nation that depended on the Big Three last time around, now regrets it. A lot of promises were made but not kept. I don’t see a repetition at all.

***

‘Battle for survival for weaker nations’

Haroon Lorgat, Former ICC and Cricket South Africa chief executive

CSA, Cricket South Africa, Haroon Lorgat, sports news, cricket, Indian Express Former ICC and Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat (Express Archive)

No doubt the (cricketing) world order will change post Covid-19. There’s enough evidence to suggest that what will follow the pandemic will be an economic recession that won’t be limited to any one country. Experts are forecasting a global recession. Just about everything will require some form of re-engineering and cricket will be no exception. Things won’t be the same. What I pray for is that the (cricket) leadership will consider and support everybody. It’s never been more poignant than now and clearly those who have will need to support those who have not. Otherwise the cricket world will downsize to a much smaller and much weaker world.It will be a battle for survival for weaker nations. Without enough cash flow, some nations will struggle to meet basic expenditure and unless they are supported, there will be casualties.

I hope that post-Covid-19 cricket doesn’t go back to the Big Three model. This model is designed to make the wealthy wealthier at the expense of making the poor even poorer. Money is finite and therefore we need to distribute smartly. You need to pool your resources and, with just cause, you need to support those in need. You can’t willy-nilly provide funding for anybody that doesn’t govern properly. I don’t support the argument that the Big Three (and the trickle-down model) will solve the problem.

The (cricket) world is a group of many nations, not just one or two countries. There’s no World Cup without various countries playing together.

I think it’s a bit too early to start speculating whether the ICC should rejig its financial model post-Covid. However, I do believe that people should be more willing to be supportive of each other. This pandemic is proving that we don’t live in a vacuum. We all live and thrive together and we must stop having the mentality that we can simply insulate ourselves. On the contrary, in order to grow ourselves, we need others to grow.

Overall, cricket will be forced to consider austerity measures because money coming into it from the corporate sector is likely to shrink. It’s going to be the same across all industry sectors. So whether you are a rich or poor playing nation, you will face the same challenge.

If we reference global markets generally, it has retreated by around 25 per cent. Right now it’s very difficult to predict how much money will go out from cricket because the crisis is not over yet, but if globally markets are retreating by around 25 per cent, then everything including cricket must prepare to face the knock-on effect.

People speak of the rich cricket nations wanting their pound of flesh and wanting to settle the new (cricket) world order on their own terms in return for their support of weaker nations. In my view that would be a very selfish and short-term approach.

(As told to Shamik Chakrabarty)

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