Impact of Indian-led T20 franchise cricket leads to splits among sport administrators

Impact of Indian-led T20 franchise cricket leads to splits among sport administrators
England’s Liam Livingstone makes his ground during a Twenty20 cricket match between England and India at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England on July 10, 2022. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 18 August 2022

Impact of Indian-led T20 franchise cricket leads to splits among sport administrators

Impact of Indian-led T20 franchise cricket leads to splits among sport administrators
  • With leading players making their own decisions about when, where and in which format they play, Test and One Day International cricket could suffer

Noise from the debate over the impact of T20 franchise cricket on the sport’s future is becoming difficult to drown out. Former Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar has suggested that opposition to the format and its Indian-led dynamic is tantamount to sour grapes. In a thinly disguised dig at English and Australian administrators, he pronounced that Indian administrators are better equipped to look after the interests of Indian cricket than those who are perceived to be trying to interfere with it.

At first sight, this may appear to be an overreaction and a veiled criticism of the way that cricket used to be ordered. As discussed in previous columns, professional cricket is being disrupted before our eyes. Its future landscape is beginning to shape up, with T20 franchise cricket recognized as the disrupter-in-chief. Gavaskar advises that administrators in other countries should focus on looking after their own interests. This is becoming increasingly difficult to do now that leading players are making decisions about when, where and in which format they will ply their trade. Added to this mix is the possibility that they will be able to choose to which employer — national board, regional board, franchiser — they contract their services.

There is much speculation about who and what will be the casualties of the disruption. Some argue that it will be One Day International (50 over) cricket, while others say that it spells the decline of Test match cricket.

Domestic cricket structures may well experience shake-ups. In England, for example, counties which host neither Test matches nor T20 franchises are likely to struggle, both financially and in terms of their ability to attract top players.

Cricket’s economics have been altered substantially by T20 franchises. A dominant proportion of income for national Boards in India, Australia and England used to be generated at Test matches through ticket sales, at ground sales, sponsorships and media rights. The Indian Premier League has changed that dynamic to the point where the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) no longer relies on Test match income. Nevertheless, it remains an advocate of Test match cricket and knows that other countries depend on Tests with India to generate much-needed income. This gives the BCCI significant advantage in the corridors of power in international cricket.

Despite Australia and England having their own short format franchise tournaments, it is Test matches which continue to generate a sizable proportion of their income. In England’s case, this is as much as two-thirds. On Wednesday, England and South Africa began a three-match Test series at Lords. Ticket prices range widely according to the day of play, location of seat in the ground and age of spectator, with under-16s receiving a discounted price. At the top end of the scale a seat costs £160 ($193) for the first day and £70 at the bottom end of the range. Seats with restricted views are offered in a range of £100 down to £45. Tickets for Day Four are on offer in a range of £140 to £50 and a mere £5 for Day Five.

The owner of Lords, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), was the subject of much criticism earlier in the season over an England Test match against New Zealand. This coincided with celebrations to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and public holidays to encourage people to celebrate, accordingly. It is rumored that several days before the match started that at least 16,000 tickets remained unsold, mainly priced at more than £100. The ground has an official capacity of 31,000. The MCC blamed the public holidays for the lower-than-expected demand. Observers of cricket were sure that a combination of high ticket prices and a cost-of-living crisis in the UK had caused the drop in demand. The MCC has long appeared to take the view that it has captive market for one of the great sporting events of the English summer and can price accordingly. Perhaps this view is going to be limited in future to matches against Australia and India, although it appeared to be a full house on Wednesday against South Africa, before the rain came to disperse spectators.

A day at a Test match when the weather is good and six hours cricket are played means that a ticket priced at £120 averages out at £20 per hour. Arguably, this is fair value. The price of a member’s ticket to watch Arsenal vs. Manchester City, for example, lies in a range of £69 to £99, equivalent to £46 or £66 per hour. A price of a ticket to watch a Hundred match at Lords starts at £40 for an adult, is £5 for under-16s and free for those aged under-six. One match lasts for two and a half hours. The English Cricket Board, in its reliance on its income from Test matches, is caught up in a dilemma. Fear of a decline in Test match cricket has led it to seek to spread its risk by introducing an additional income stream, the Hundred, now being played simultaneously with the Tests against South Africa.

Set against this dilemma is a clear-cut situation. On Aug. 27, in T20 format, the Asia Cup will begin in the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, with a capacity of up to 30,000 spectators, equivalent to Lords. Ticket prices start at AED 30-75 ($8-$20), rising to AED 250 depending on the match and seat type. The first batch of tickets went on sale online on Aug. 15. Those for the India vs. Pakistan match sold out within one hour.

Gavaskar’s advice is founded on some obvious trends in the game. The BCCI now generates about 70 percent of cricket’s global income. It has monetized and mobilized its massive support base. Indian franchise interests are set to add to this dominance. Although the International Cricket Council sets schedules of ever-increasing intensity for its members, India and its collaborators control the future direction of world cricket. Money, media casters and advertisers are the face of the game, with the boards in thrall.


Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad play out stalemate in ill-disciplined ‘Saudi Classico’

Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad play out stalemate in ill-disciplined ‘Saudi Classico’
Updated 40 min 53 sec ago

Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad play out stalemate in ill-disciplined ‘Saudi Classico’

Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad play out stalemate in ill-disciplined ‘Saudi Classico’
  • Champions Al-Hilal suffer shock 2-1 home defat to Al-Taawoun in the day’s other big match

RIYADH: The first ‘Classico’ of the Roshn Saudi League season ended in stalemate as Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad played out an ill-tempered 0-0 draw at Mrsool Park on Sunday, which saw two players sent off and six others booked.

It looked like Al-Nassr might have gained a major advantage when Al-Ittihad midfielder Tarek Ahmed was sent off two minutes before the break. But Rudi Garcia’s team failed to take advantage and on 59 minutes the numerical advantage was lost when Abdulmajeed Al-Sulaiheem received a straight red.

The stop-start nature of the match saw almost 15 minutes of stoppage time added at the end of the match, but neither team could find a breakthrough.

The result leaves Al-Ittihad in third place with 11 points from five matches, while Al-Nassr are in fifth with one point less.

The day’s big shock came with Al-Hilal’s 2-1 home defeat to Al-Taawoun.

The reigning Saudi and Asian champions took the lead through Brazilian forward Michael on the half hour, but the visitors equalized with a goal from Summayhan Al-Nabit in first half stoppage time.

Despite having Leandre Tawamba sent off on 65 minutes, Al-Taawoun took a shock lead through Fahad Alrashidi after 74 minutes, and then held onto the final whistle for a famous win.

After their first loss of the season, Al-Hilal are in second place with 12 points, while Al-Taawoun are in joint-fourth position with 11. 


Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title

Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title
Updated 7 sec ago

Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title

Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title
  • Djokovic, who didn’t drop a set all week, now heads to the Astana ATP tournament where world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz takes the top seeding

TEL AVIV: Novak Djokovic claimed his third title of 2022 and 89th of his career with an impressive straight-sets victory over Marin Cilic in the Tel Aviv final on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Djokovic triumphed 6-3, 6-4 to add the Israeli trophy to victories in Rome and Wimbledon this season.

It was Djokovic’s 19th win over Cilic in 21 meetings in a rivalry stretching back to 2008.

Djokovic was playing his first singles tournament since wrapping up a seventh Wimbledon crown and 21st Grand Slam title in July.

He was banned from the US Open and the entire North American hard court swing over his refusal to be vaccinated before returning for Roger Federer’s farewell in the Laver Cup team event in London last month.

“It was really a special week, I felt at home with all your support,” top-seeded Djokovic told the crowd before turning to Cilic who turned 34 last Wednesday.

“I’m sure we going to keep beating all these young players for a while yet.”

On Sunday, Djokovic, playing in his 127th final, broke Cilic in the second game of the final and pocketed the first set with a fourth ace after 47 minutes on court.

Former US Open winner Cilic, chasing a 21st career title but first of 2022, was broken in the first game of the second set and never recovered.

The Serb only faced one break point in the final which was clinched in 94 minutes.

Djokovic, who didn’t drop a set all week, now heads to the Astana ATP tournament where world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz takes the top seeding.


England thump Pakistan in T20 decider, win series 4-3

England thump Pakistan in T20 decider, win series 4-3
Updated 16 min 43 sec ago

England thump Pakistan in T20 decider, win series 4-3

England thump Pakistan in T20 decider, win series 4-3
  • England strangled Pakistan’s struggling middle-order through pace as Pakistan never looked to challenge a strong total

LAHORE, Pakistan: England finished their first tour to Pakistan in 17 years with a thumping 67-run win in their Twenty20 decider on Sunday to clinch the exciting seven-match series 4-3.

Dawid Malan (78 not out off 47 balls) smashed his first half century of the series and Harry Brook hit an unbeaten 29-ball 46 as both profited from three dropped catches in England’s strong total of 209-3.

Pakistan, who won the toss and chose to field, were effectively out of the chase once the usually prolific opening pair of captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan departed within the first two overs.

Pakistan finished on 142-8.

Babar, who dropped both Malan and Brook, gave a regulation catch at cover in Chris Woakes’ first over and Reece Topley clean bowled Rizwan off a full-length delivery.

No. 3 Shan Masood fought a lone battle with 56 off 43 against well-disciplined England pacers with Woakes (3-26), David Willey (2-22), Sam Curran (1-27) and Topley (1-34) all chipping in with wickets.

“Brilliant game today, we played really well from the start,” said England captain Moeen Ali. “The batters put up a very good score and I thought our bowling was outstanding in wet conditions. We had two must-win games, to come back and win them is good to see.”

Regular England T20 skipper Jos Buttler didn’t play a single game on tour and continued his rehabilitation on an injured calf.

England’s opening pair of Phil Salt (20) and Alex Hales (18) once again provided a brisk start of 39 before both fell in the space of three deliveries in the fifth over.

Hales was pinned leg before wicket by Mohammad Hasnain, one of the four changes Pakistan made from the team which lost the last game by eight wickets on Friday.

Salt couldn’t beat a strong direct throw from Shadab Khan and was run out after Malan refused a single and stood his ground at the striker’s end.

Ben Duckett hit a breezy 30 off 19 balls before he was run out by Rizwan who clipped the bails after the ball bounced in front of him off Duckett’s bat but England continued to score more than 10 runs an over in the first half of the innings.

Sloppy Pakistan fielding let both Malan and Brook combine in a beefy and unbroken 108-run stand off 61 balls as Babar dropped both batters in their 20s before Mohammad Wasim also couldn’t grab an opportunity after Malan had completed his half century.

“Our fielding was not up to the mark today and when you drop crucial catches of set batters, you are bound to struggle,” Babar said.

Haris Rauf, who was rested in the last game, bowled well in the death overs to finish with 0-24, but fast bowler Mohammad Wasim cost 0-61 – Pakistan’s third most expensive figures in a T20 international.

“We couldn’t execute our plans in the field and credit goes to England for fully capitalizing,” Babar said.

Malan hit eight fours and three sixes while Brook smashed four sixes and a boundary as Wasim conceded 20 in the last over which lifted England to its second highest total of the series.

Pakistan’s middle order had struggled throughout the series and once again couldn’t cope up with the pressure after both Babar and Rizwan were dismissed early.

Willey missed a skier off his own bowling which could have ended Iftikhar Ahmed’s knock before he found the outside edge of the right-hander as Pakistan slipped to 33-3 inside the batting powerplay.

England strangled Pakistan’s struggling middle-order through pace as Pakistan never looked to challenge a strong total.

Masood, who hit his second half century of the series after making his T20 debut at Karachi, fell against Woakes when he was brilliantly snapped by a diving Adil Rashid at short third-man in the penultimate over of the innings.

England will return to Pakistan in December when they play a three-Test series.


Saudi sports minister chairs delegation at Asian Olympic council meeting

Saudi sports minister chairs delegation at Asian Olympic council meeting
Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi sports minister chairs delegation at Asian Olympic council meeting

Saudi sports minister chairs delegation at Asian Olympic council meeting
  • The delegation will highlight the Kingdom’s bid to host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 at TROJENA in the NEOM region

RIYADH: Saudi Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal will chair the Kingdom’s delegation at the Olympic Council of Asia executive board meeting and its general assembly in Cambodia on Monday.

The prince will lead the delegation in his role as president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SOPC) and vice-president of the OCA.

The Saudi committee will include SOPC Vice-President Prince Fahad bin Jalawi, board member of SOPC Prince Abdullah Bin Fahad and NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr.

The delegation will highlight the Kingdom’s bid to host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 at TROJENA in the NEOM region in northwest Saudi Arabia. The bid will be submitted to a vote during the general assembly on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia will be the first west Asian country to host the Asian Winter Games if it wins the bid.

The meeting will also shed light on the preparations of Riyadh in hosting the 7th Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games 2025 and the Asian Games in Riyadh in 2034.


Japan wrestling trailblazer Antonio Inoki leaves behind a unique legacy

Japan wrestling trailblazer Antonio Inoki leaves behind a unique legacy
Updated 02 October 2022

Japan wrestling trailblazer Antonio Inoki leaves behind a unique legacy

Japan wrestling trailblazer Antonio Inoki leaves behind a unique legacy
  • The professional wrestler, martial artist, politician and promoter died on Saturday at the age of 79

RIYADH: Legendary Japanese figure Antonio Inoki, real name Muhammad Hussain Inoki, died on Saturday at the age of 79.

Inoki was a professional wrestler, martial artist, politician and promoter for both professional wrestling and mixed martial arts.

Born in Yokohama, Japan in 1943, he spent most of his childhood in Brazil where his family had relocated. There, he developed a passion for professional wrestling. Inoki was recruited by Rikidozan, one of the the most famous Japanese wrestlers of all time, and returned to Tokyo to join the Japanese Wrestling Association.

In his home country, Inoki became widely popular and revered for his versatility and for his charismatic demeanor in the squared circle. His contributions transcended achievements inside the ring, and he founded New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1972.

Over the course of the next two decades, Inoki built NJPW into the most successful wrestling company in Asia, using talented competitors such as Tiger Mask, Dynamite Kid, Bob Backlund, and Vader.

In addition to running the promotion, Inoki himself was one of the top stars carrying the championship, stepping into the ring against the likes of Stan Hansen, Tiger Jeet Singh and Hulk Hogan.

He gained global fame in 1976 when he faced Muhammad Ali in a wrestler vs. boxer match in Tokyo. This encounter was credited for being a precursor to what is known today as mixed martial arts, and was one of the most watched fights of its generation. In addition to the sold-out crowd of more than 14,000 at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, it aired on closed-circuit across the world.

Shea Stadium in New York aired the bout on its big screen and drew a crowd of 32,897, with an undercard of pro wrestling and mixed-rules matches preceding the main event.

Outisde the ring Inoki used sport to forge peace and diplomacy. In 1990, he played a major role in freeing 36 Japanese hostages held in Iraq.

Inoki was also a outstanding ambassador for professional wrestling, bringing major events to places such as Russia and China.

He was also instrumental in organizing two large sporting events in Pyongyang in 1995, and another in 2014. The first event, known as “Collision in Korea” drew nearly 380,000 fans and is considered the biggest-pay-per-view in pro-wrestling history.

In 1998, Inoki retired from in-ring competition. In 2010, he was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame. An WWE statement said: “This passion for competition earned him the nickname ‘Moeru Toukon’ among his peers, which translates to ‘The fighting spirit that burns’.”

Inoki leaves behind a unique legacy as a competitor. He was 12-time professional wrestling world champion, notably being the inaugural IWGP Heavyweight Champion and the first Asian WWF Heavyweight Champion in a reign not officially recognized by WWE.

The cause of Inoki’s death was not released, but he had been ill in recent years and confined to a wheelchair.