T20 has been a godsend but where to now?

Glenn Mitchell Columnist

By Glenn Mitchell, Glenn Mitchell is a Roar Expert

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    Twenty20 cricket was seen as a gimmick when it emerged on the scene.

    Fourteen years after it was introduced at domestic level by the ECB it has grown into the sport’s most marketable commodity.

    The rapid rise was stimulated by India winning the inaugural World Cup in South Africa in September 2007.

    Remarkably, that tournament was staged on the back of a mere 38 international T20s – Australia won the first of them in Auckland in February 2005 where Ricky Ponting made a 55-ball innings of 98.

    India arrived at the 2007 World Cup having played just one T20 international – against the Proteas at Johannesburg in December 2006.

    When the Indians won the final at the same venue against arch rival Pakistan it set off a remarkable chain events that has brought us to where we are today.

    Within two months of India claiming the inaugural world championship, a rebel T20 league was up and running in the sub-continent.

    The competition, the Indian Cricket League, was bankrolled by Zee Entertainment Enterprises, a television network that was keen to develop sporting content.

    The ICL was contested by nine privately operated clubs – seven from India and one each in Pakistan and Bangladesh – as well as three ‘international’ teams from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and a World XI.

    The latter included Australian players Ian Harvey, Michael Kasprowicz, Matthew Elliott and Jimmy Maher.

    The ICL was not sanctioned by either the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) or the ICC.

    As such, the Indian authorities did all they could to stymie the breakaway league including banning players from international selection and striking off all venues that hosted matches from being involved with any official BBCI fixtures.

    In April 2008, the BCCI launched the Indian Premier League (IPL), its own franchise-based T20 competition.

    By 2009, the ICL was dissolved amid controversy including numerous players being unpaid.

    The IPL soon grew into a behemoth of the sport with business people and entertainment figures falling over each other in a bid to form their own franchises.

    Many thought the IPL would run out of steam after a barnstorming success in its nascent years.

    Reality has proven otherwise.

    Nowadays, the IPL, which runs during April-May, is one of the world’s most successful leagues of any sport.

    The current TV rights deal, signed in September 2007 by Star India (a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox) is for $3.2bn over ten years, an increase of 158 per cent on the previous deal.

    The brand value of the IPL is estimated to be worth US$5.3bn.

    Parthiv Patel Rising Pune Supergiant Indian Premier League IPL Cricket 2017

    (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    Individual players are regularly signed for seven-figure sums for around seven weeks’ work.

    Mitchell Starc was recently snapped up by the Kolkata Night Riders for $1.8m.

    If he bowls his maximum four overs in each game his teams plays, he will earn $5300 per delivery.

    A decade ago, such money would have been incomprehensible in the sport of cricket.

    The T20 explosion has effectively been World Series Cricket 2.0 with respect to the way it has changed the remuneration landscape for the game’s leading players.

    Steve Smith earns around $1.5m per annum from his CA contract.

    His seven-week IPL contract with the Hyderabad Sunrisers is worth $2.4m.

    Virat Kohli’s IPL contract with Royal Challengers Bangalore is $3.4m.

    In Australia, the BBL has proved to be enormous hit.

    This summer, 1.14m fans went through the turnstiles at an average of 26,531 per game.

    That figure is down on last season’s average of 30,114 some of which could be put down to games being taken to smaller capacity venues in regional centres – only 3,900 attended the Strikers Scorchers game in Alice Springs – and the lacklustre showing of the Stars (two wins from its ten games), who drew significantly smaller crowds to the MCG.

    There has been an explosion in female participation rates in the past three years since the introduction of the WBBL and its presence on our TV screens, an unforeseen event when the current rights deal was struck.

    Ellyse Perry batting Sydney Sixers WBBL

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    CA’s financial health is predicated on summers that involve tours by England and India.

    It hordes cash at those times to make up for the two lean international summers in between in each four-year cycle.

    The BBL, on the other hand, is a regular earner for them.

    CA will receive a significant fillip to its coffers with respect to the soon to be signed TV broadcasting deals.

    Network Ten snapped up a bargain when it secured a five-year deal for $100m in 2013.

    It is envisaged that the next deal could produce between two and three times that amount while analysts predict that the rights for Tests and ODIs will remain around the current $80m per annum mark.

    The next issue for CA is where the BBL heads from here.

    This season saw an expansion to 43 matches, up from 35.

    Further growth is on the cards with TV networks presented with the likelihood of an additional 16 games next season and possibly even more subsequent to that.

    CA already has had approaches from Canberra, Geelong, Townsville and Fremantle which are all keen to have a share of the action.

    Presently, CA is wary of taking that path having witnessed similar growth moves in the A-League, NBL and Super Rugby creating crises within those codes.

    One of the big pluses of the BBL is the fact it is contained neatly during the summer school holiday period where access to the future generations is guaranteed.

    Venturing outside that, especially if the finals went deeper into the New Year would diminish its pulling power.

    There is ongoing debate over the relevance of international T20s.

    The first encounter of the Trans-Tasman tri-series between Australia and New Zealand at the SCG on Saturday drew 25,261.

    Glenn Maxwell

    (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

    The five home games at the SCG for the Sydney Sixers in the BBL this season averaged 24,815 which does not say a lot for the interest in the national side at this level.

    By comparison, the Strikers averaged 40,480 at the Adelaide Oval; the Heat 32,980 at the Gabba; the Stars 31,628 at the MCG; and the Renegades 32,564 at Etihad Stadium.

    In the recently released Future Tours Program for 2019-2023, the ICC increased the number of T20 internationals while ODIs have been cut back and Tests have also been reduced.

    Like many, I think T20s should be limited to domestic competitions with a World Cup to be played every few years.

    There appears to be little need for international matches given the increasing saturation of T20 games in the various leagues now dotted around the globe.

    The most abbreviated form of the game – although recently T10 matches have raised their head – has brought tens of thousands of new fans to the sport and, in the process, bolstered the coffers of several ailing cricket boards.

    The last thing the sport needs is to kill the golden goose.

    Eradicating internationals, outside World Cups, would be a good starting point.

    Glenn Mitchell
    Glenn Mitchell

    After 21 years as a sports broadcaster with the ABC, since mid-2011 Glenn Mitchell has been freelancing in the electronic and written media. He is an ambassador for mental health in Australia, and tweets from @mitchellglenn.

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    The Crowd Says (58)

    • Roar Guru

      February 8th 2018 @ 7:46am
      Camo McD said | February 8th 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      Glenn, if anything I would be cutting back on bi-lateral ODI series which increasingly seem to be a waste of time. I believe T20Is have a place and can increasingly expose a raft of different countries to the top level of international cricket.

    • February 8th 2018 @ 8:02am
      Christo the Daddyo said | February 8th 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

      Agree on ditching the international T20s. Just have a World Cup every four years and leave the rest of games to the various domestic leagues around the world. One the ODI front, I wonder if CA will shift them away from Sydney And Melbourne, where the interest seems to be waning strongly?

      • February 8th 2018 @ 8:55am
        spruce moose said | February 8th 2018 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        The easier solution is to go back to the blackout policy and not show the match in the home city unless it’s a sellout.

        • February 8th 2018 @ 9:01am
          Christo the Daddyo said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:01am | ! Report

          I suspect the TV agreement wouldn’t allow this to happen. I’m guessing TV ratings are still reasonably healthy for ODIs, so it would seem we’re stuck with them for the moment.

          But wouldn’t it be better to hold the games in places like Canberra (for example) and have a full house rather than 25k at the MCG?

          • February 8th 2018 @ 9:11am
            spruce moose said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report


            It’s quite interesting how Australia cricket rarely use their regional centres and instead rely on the big 5 (6 with Hobart) year in year out. Countries like England and New Zealand however take their limited overs matches to all parts of the the country.

            I’d love to see one dayers played in Geelong, Canberra, Cairns, Gold Coast, Launceston…

          • Roar Rookie

            February 8th 2018 @ 9:12am
            Roger said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

            It would seem to be the ideal vehicle to take to the regions and keep cricket interest alive there. There are plenty of centres (such as Alice Springs) where fans would pack the place.

            • February 8th 2018 @ 9:25am
              spruce moose said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:25am | ! Report

              I would have suggested Alice Springs, but I doubt the players union would be accepting of playing a match in AS in January.

            • Roar Guru

              February 8th 2018 @ 9:44am
              JamesH said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

              That’s a great point, and it applies to player production too, not just fans.

              If you look at Tassie, for example, most of our best cricketers have come from the north or north-west – Boon, Ponting, Bailey, Hilfenhaus, Faulkner, Cox, Doherty, Doolan… off the top of my head I can only think of Walker, Di Venuto, Paine and Wade from the southern end of the state.

      • February 8th 2018 @ 9:47am
        Simon said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        Guys the interest in Sydney is not waning. In the four days leading up to and at the gate of the SCG T20I the only tickets left were either $109 or $149 plus a $7 booking fee. That’s 4/5 times a BBL game. I had so many friends keen to go that then pulled out because of that and it annoys me so much that no journalist has reported on it. It’s almost like CA wanted to draw a lowish crowd so that they had less pressure to stage international T20s

        • February 8th 2018 @ 9:55am
          Peter said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          It’s also a big hassle leaving the SCG. Last summer I went to the Sydney derby and the bus queues were so huge leaving the ground that we ended up walking an hour plus home. Maybe when the tram lines are finished it will be easier. That puts me off going to these games.

          • Roar Guru

            February 8th 2018 @ 11:56am
            Mango Jack said | February 8th 2018 @ 11:56am | ! Report

            Better to walk to Central station. It takes only about 15 mins, assuming you don’t need re-hydrating at one or more of the many good pubs along the way!

        • February 8th 2018 @ 12:28pm
          Christo the Daddyo said | February 8th 2018 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

          Only 25k at the game. A long way short of capacity…

          • February 8th 2018 @ 12:52pm
            Simon said | February 8th 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

            That’s my point. The Sydney public rejected paying $115 for tickets after a long summer, and good on them for doing so.
            You try charging that for a BBL game and you wouldn’t get 5k there

      • February 10th 2018 @ 10:10pm
        Bakkies said | February 10th 2018 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

        ECB sending games around the counties has pushed them to financial difficulties due to upgrading the grounds. Other sports stopped playing at these grounds almost a century ago do they aren’t getting money from various governments for upgrades.

        Australia has an advantage due to AFL being played on the grounds.

    • February 8th 2018 @ 8:55am
      Swampy said | February 8th 2018 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      CA really seem to have the flow of the schedule completely wrong to generate enough interest for all formats through the summer.

      The training comp for domestic one-dayers is the prime example. The dismantling of the shield comp the next. CA have monumentally failed to understand the relationship between these two competitions and international competition. They need to run side by side – not parcelled into gaps.

      There is no better example of this than last night’s T20 match. I guarantee you most cricket lovers were keen to see Darcy Short bat. Why? Because he was the star of the BBL and he is currently at the forefront of people’s mind as the BBL just finished. Most people wouldn’t have a clue he plays for WA in the other comps – let alone what he averages.

      • February 8th 2018 @ 9:05am
        Christo the Daddyo said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        Yeah, that’s a great point. Hold the Shield games during the Test series, the domestic one-day series while the ODIs are being held and if you have to have international T20s, schedule them at the end of the BBL.

    • February 8th 2018 @ 9:03am
      spruce moose said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      “Twenty20 cricket was seen as a gimmick when it emerged on the scene.”

      Correction: Twenty20 cricket was seen as a gimmick BY AUSTRALIA when it emerged on the scene – this despite the fact that a exhibition match between WA and VIC pulled in the highest crowds for a domestic game for yonkers.

      Twenty20 was taken exceptionally seriously by England, Pakistan and South Africa from day one.

      It was a disgrace to award Australia the first T20 International, and then it became embarrassing when they still continued to misread it’s existence with the continued use of nicknames on the shirts, dreadful singlet uniforms after the first world cup.

      Ultimately I think it’s important to keep T20 internationals continuing outside of world cups. There has to be some kind of carrot for the BBL players beyond a mere IPL contract. You look at someone like D’Arcy Short – nowhere last year, Australian representative this year (and a nice fat IPL contract to boot).

      • February 8th 2018 @ 9:11am
        jeff dustby said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

        calm down

        • February 8th 2018 @ 9:13am
          spruce moose said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:13am | ! Report

          As calm as a lake.

          • Roar Guru

            February 8th 2018 @ 11:26am
            The Bush said | February 8th 2018 @ 11:26am | ! Report

            It’s still a gimmick because we talk to the players during the game. What other international sport has a player “miked up” to the commentators while they’re playing?

            Putting aside the fact it’s painful, it’s hard to take seriously.

            • February 8th 2018 @ 11:48am
              spruce moose said | February 8th 2018 @ 11:48am | ! Report

              Only Australia obsess with the “miking up” of players.

              It’s not as frequent or as prevalent an issue in other T20 leagues.

              Which reinforces my point, only Australia treat it as a gimmick, and why Australia hasn’t won a T20 world cup…

              • Roar Guru

                February 8th 2018 @ 1:53pm
                The Bush said | February 8th 2018 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

                I agree with you, that’s why I raised the point. You can’t tell me we’re taking it seriously when we put microphones in the players ears.

              • February 8th 2018 @ 2:30pm
                spruce moose said | February 8th 2018 @ 2:30pm | ! Report


                Yes, we reap what we sow I suppose.

      • February 8th 2018 @ 1:08pm
        Perry Bridge said | February 8th 2018 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

        Perhaps it was aided by the success of the Vic Bushrangers in the then ‘KFC Twenty20 Big Bash’ – but getting on early days because of the convenience with young kids – seeing the Vics players performing on the ‘G and getting decent crowds by any standards – for state games – it was brilliant.

        I still recall in 2009/10 the 43k in at the ‘G to see the Vics steamroll Tassie with Hodgey 90* off 56. How good was that – I feel that more than anything proved they were onto a winning product.

        I was a little dismayed with the ‘franchise’ style city based teams for the BBL. And seeing Siddle playing for Adelaide just doesn’t seem right – but so bit it.

        The T20 notion allows for a quicker, more condensed tournament format. There’s no great reason that the current T20I tri-series needs to run over as many days as it is – there should be a game every 2 days.

        • Roar Guru

          February 8th 2018 @ 1:55pm
          The Bush said | February 8th 2018 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

          Yeah that’s a good point, they could be playing this series in a more condensed format; Friday, Sunday, Tuesday. Fly to NZ and then go Friday, Sunday, Tuesday with the Final the last Friday.

        • February 8th 2018 @ 3:12pm
          Basil said | February 8th 2018 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

          I have to agree Perry. I thought the early days when it was a state-based comp it really started to engage people toward the state teams, so much so that people here in SA were then starting to take more notice of the Redbacks in the others formats too. It was a great form of promotion based and brand identity.

    • February 8th 2018 @ 9:06am
      Basil said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      I think International T20’s are fine. You just have to give them relevance.
      What makes the IPL and BBL so popular is that they are played in tournament form, with the ultimate goal being to win the cup. This keeps people engaged as there is a purpose behind it.
      I like what they have done this year by bringing in a 3rd team and creating a tri-series, it makes it interesting. I would like the same to be returned to the 50 over game.
      Drop the ticket prices, play it in tournament form and watch it flourish. After all, with the best players all on the field at the same time you see the game at its pinnacle.

      • February 8th 2018 @ 9:23am
        jamesb said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        ” I like what they have done this year by bringing in a 3rd team and creating a tri-series, it makes it interesting. I would like the same to be returned to the 50 over game.”

        I have never been a fan of two teams playing a best of five one day series. And to make it worse, the series still goes on after the series has been won and lost.

        With the schedule their using in the T/20 series, it should be replicated in the ODI’s. Watching the same two teams playing each other over and over again is boring.

      • February 8th 2018 @ 9:24am
        spruce moose said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        Yeah, the tickets are crazy expensive.

        MCG T20 Silver tickets at $79. To put that in perspective, silver tickets for the Ashes were $99 – an extra $20 for an entire day of cricket as opposed to 3 hours. Silver tickets for the ODI’s were $79!

        How did they come up with the logic that ticket prices for the ODI and T20 should be the same at Standard, Bronze and Silver? That’s the bread and butter audience.

        T20 is about the same length as an AFL game but at twice the price.

    • February 8th 2018 @ 9:13am
      paul said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      I’ve been watching comments from a number of regular contributors to the Roar in recent weeks and have been struck by how many seem to be suffering T20 burnout. They’re keen as mustard when the season first starts but by the end, they might watch it for 20 minutes and then turn onto something else. If this is indicative of a keen follower, I reckon there must be many more fringe watchers following suit.

      I would not be so quick to write off decreased crowd numbers to simple issues like one side playing poorly or playing games in remote locations. As you rightly point out, CA does not want to shoot the golden goose so they’d be well advised to canvas the public to see whether the market can stand more games or whether it’s reached saturation point.

      The final thing CA needs to do is get it’s scheduling right.This season has been farcical and shows they only care about making a buck and nothing about the game itself.

      • Roar Guru

        February 8th 2018 @ 11:28am
        The Bush said | February 8th 2018 @ 11:28am | ! Report

        There’s too much of it. I read this morning that CA want to put on even more BBL games next year! But apparently the broadcasters are baulking. It’s hard to believe that a broadcaster could possibly be the “good guy”, but it seems they might be.

        When there isn’t even enough time to ensure that all the best players are available for the finals etc, it’s madness to play the tournament even longer.

        • Roar Guru

          February 8th 2018 @ 12:00pm
          Mango Jack said | February 8th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          Yeah, I was very surprised to read they were planning to increase the number of games. With a game on pretty much every night from mid Dec, we’ve well and truly had enough by end of Jan, and this is one reason (the other being ticket prices) why fans are not so keen on the International T20s. We’re over it by then.

        • Roar Guru

          February 8th 2018 @ 3:07pm
          Ryan H said | February 8th 2018 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

          If they bring more BBL games to the table next season, even after this season felt a little stale and drawn out already, they risk doing a lot of damage to it. Surely with crowds and attendance numbers (only slightly) down this season, it would make much more sense to take a cautious approach into next season and see if that is more of an outlier, or these trends continue. I feel it is already being shoved down the throat of fans at present, and extending the tournament by 10 or so matches could really harm the interest levels.

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