Will cricket survive the coronavirus?

The coronavirus pandemic that has engulfed the world is not only a threat to the human race and the world economy but to cricket as well. Most of the tournaments and tours have been either cancelled or suspended like the Indian Premier League (IPL), Pakistan Super League, England tour to Sri Lanka and all cricket in the southern hemisphere.

The IPL start has been rescheduled to 18 April and the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will probably delay the start of the County season till the middle of May. These are two very high profile cricket events. If they are cancelled or rescheduled, both cricket and the players around the world will be badly affected.

If the IPL were to be cancelled, the Board of Control for Cricket India will lose about $750 million. Even they can’t afford this to happen. English cricket through international and county cricket are also commercially big earners. This sustains a very large cricket system that is the centrepiece of world cricket.

The long-awaited Hundred will also be launched this season. There is a great expectation in certain quarters that the Hundred will add substantially to the ECB revenue and also create a new cricket fan. However, it needs to make an immediate impression if it is to establish itself in a congested cricketing product. If there is doubt about the coronavirus persisting, its inception will need to be delayed at a cost to the ECB.

If the coronavirus doesn’t clear by the start of the southern hemisphere summer, the T20 World Cup in Australia could be under threat with massive commercial ramifications for world cricket, especially the smaller international nations like Sri Lanka, New Zealand and even South Africa. Only India, England and Australia can probably sustain themselves for a period.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) uses tournaments like the T20 World Cup to finance world cricket and its development.  Without the ICC distributions most cricket-playing countries will struggle to survive.

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