ICC World T20 is in full swing. It started on 18th September 2012 in Sri Lanka. The top teams are defeating the minnows as expected and the super eight stage promises to be full of exciting matches. I personally am a fan of T20 matches. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of 5 day test matches too. But if we are to promote the game and increase viewership and world-wide acceptance towards the sport we love, we cannot showcase a 5 day game (maximum playing time of 2400 minutes) to a soccer fan who gets his full quota of excitement in merely 90 minutes! So, we need a new concept that can attract fans from new countries for Cricket. Enter T20.
|Official logo of ICC World T20 2012|
ICC World T20 is a perfect marketing ploy to penetrate into untapped markets for Cricket. USA, for example. Competitions like IPL, Big Bash and other national T20 leagues are flourishing simply because of this acceptance concept. After all, more acceptance will bring more recognition and thereby more money!
ICC World T20 is considered as a the pinnacle of T20 championships with more participating nations. Apart from the top teams, the so-called minnows have to go through a qualifying competition and the top teams enter the World Cup. Adding more teams increase the viewership in those countries (Afghanistan, and Ireland ) with more opportunities of merchandise sales. It also gives players an opportunity to show their talents with a hope that the league owners will take notice and they can eventually enter the big premier league sides with fat pay-cheques!
But I found a flaw in the format. After detailed observation, I realized its not a flaw but a clever strategy to increase viewership, ad rates and more ticket sales. Here's how:
Format: There are 3 teams each in 4 groups. Teams are ranked in each group. For example, England, India and Afghanistan are in Group A. England are tagged A1, India A2 and Afghanistan are A3 as per their T20 rankings. The top teams will play in a Super 8 format of 2 groups. The top 2 teams of each group will enter the knockout stages. Then there's semifinal and final, as is always the case.
Apparent Flaw: In the round robin matches, If India defeats Afghanistan and England and thereby top the group, they will still remain A2 and will not be 'promoted' to A1. Which is what has happened here. If one of the minnows spring a surprise and be among the top 2 teams in the group, they will automatically replace the team that has failed to qualify. For example, if India wins both their matches and England loses to Afghanistan, the Afghanistan will become A1 and India will remain A2, Bizarre, isn't it? What purpose does such a format serve? My first impression was that the format is totally illogical. But you know what they say about first impressions, right?
Actual reason for this format: There's an underlying reason for having this format. And the backdrop is a win-win situation for all stakeholders here. All we need is one look at the fixtures. You see, India is tagged as A2 for a reason. Check the match scheduled on 29th September (Sunday). It says "20th Match, Super Eights, Group 2 - D1 v A2". Now, we know India is A2, but who's D1. Its none other than Pakistan! So, like it or not, unless Bangladesh springs up a surprise, we are scheduled to have a India-Pakistan clash on Sunday! Similarly, we have Sri Lanka vs West Indies on Saturday and Australia vs South Africa as the first match on Sunday. Isn't it a win-win situation? Who would want to miss such a match? Also, don't you think the ad-rates will shot up beyond measure and Star Cricket can make a fortune out of a single match! Some might argue its an indirect form of 'fixing' a match. I don't think so. If this world cup can give me the much awaited match on a Sunday evening, I am all for it!