The Business of West Indies Cricket – 2016 and beyond

Sunday, August 7 –

At a time when the Summer Olympics is happening in Brazil, world sports take centre stage and the discussions are varied. These discussions range from salaries of international stars to which sports will be in the next Summer Olympic Games. The IOC even used the opportunity to announce five disciplines which they plan to include in 2020 – these are baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.

Also in the last week, Forbes revealed the 2016 world’s highest paid athletes. No cricket athlete is on that list. There was no cricketer in the top-100 either. In the top 50 though, basketball and the National Football League (NFL) dominated with 12 and 13 athletes respectively. Football (Soccer) and baseball each had six; while tennis had five including one female; golf, racing, boxing and track and field completed the list. The range of the salaries (without endorsements) were from a low of $26.1m to a high of $88m.

See the complete Forbes list http://www.forbes.com/athletes/list/2/#tab:overall

What does this mean for the business of cricket? What does this mean for cricketers in the Caribbean and their abilities to earn salaries they can consider competitive among their peers as elite athletes?

Cricket is in the top five most watched sports for a global television audience, however most of us know where a considerable amount of that audience comes from. What then can the International Cricket Council (ICC) do to generate interest in attracting a more varied group? Lots of points to consider.

TopTenMostWatchedSports

The real reason for this column though is to look seriously at the key success factors in the developing a cricket industry in the Caribbean and thus making it attractive to attract a wider pool of talent and corporate support to build relationships and partnerships of value.

Here is a look at some variables

  • Number of competitions regionally
  • Number of competitions internationally
  • Number of employees (athletes/cricketers) and their salaries
  • Value of corporate investment
  • Value of endorsements to athletes and teams/franchises
  • Television and media rights

The discussion has to be pushed beyond the basic, but instead really focus on

  • Who views the product
  • In what form
  • How long they view the product
  • What are the preferred forms?

Then the discussion moves to – what adjustments will the administration do to create additional value around the product?

Reach

At the moment the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has access to 300 players in tcompetition each year at several levels in and out of the region. In a move which could help consolidate the value – maybe there is a way to look at who are the most valuable players – male/female. There are clear examples how other worldwide leagues promote their elite personalities. Also those personalities have to be prepared to turn on each time on the field of play and offer consistent performances. The cliché of “cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties” is being outweighed as the competition across the board with other elite athletes makes it harder for fans to watch a game where athletes/players go scoreless today and scores 200 tomorrow…but instead should be one where players “show up” each time.

Am I asking for too much? Maybe I am, but in 2016, those are some harsh realities facing cricket as a sport and the television audience watching cricket is not as ‘powerful’ to swing the marketing dollar enough to its benefit to attract major support.

The Caribbean population is certainly not enough to generate any considerable dent in stirring the pot; however, the influence of a value-added personality who can perform on and off the field could be the start of how cricket can convert to a more lucrative position.

Over the next cricket year, the number of days would almost double from 60 in the last period to 105 and that gives the game additional opportunities for packaging; but that should and must have some star-power. Who will it be?

 

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Brad-Oneal Gillings says:

    I really enjoyed reading your article Carole. The business of cricket is still evolving and your variables definitely shed some light on opportunities to grow the sport. The need for a special player is evident when you look on the effect headline players have on their respective sports. Cricket definitely has a few emerging superstars like Virat Kohli but I think its important to also develop players of similar quality this side of the world. This player should be able to brand himself/herself similar to how Usain Bolt has increased Track and Field’s personality. The preferred forms of the game tend to be the shorter versions but like baseball who is also searching for a new identity it is extremely important to preserve the pastime. The difference between baseball and cricket is that baseball are still able to pay athletes competitively when compared to other sports.

    The future of cricket like many other things is in the hands of future generations. After attending the recent Test match at Sabina Park (20 years straight of not missing a test match) and saw the crowd on a Saturday morning of a Test match I was shocked. Sabina Park was once a circus when West Indies were in town, no matter the format, but with the new culture CPL has introduced we have to consider the future of the longer version of the game.

    Cricket needs to focus on developing the sport’s popularity through investment and a flexible schedule that will facilitate all forms of cricket. Similar to how international and club football organizes its scheduling maybe something to consider. Local and Regional media should also play their part in promoting the sport particularly the next generation. The culture of cricket can be very appealing to a global population once we focus our efforts on the people in the seats and not on the field. The fans are the most important piece to any sport and if we don’t focus our efforts on the fans. Until we see West Indies jerseys like we see Manchester United jerseys, until we give small businesses the opportunity to contribute to the sport like they do in American Football, or provide platforms for more visibility for cricket players we will eventually be pushed out by other sports (NFL,NBA, and others).

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