The ICC Cricket World Cup is set to end on Sunday in Melbourne, Australia with a final featuring Australia and New Zealand, the event’s two host nations.
It may barely be on the radar of most American sports fans, but around the world, the ICC tournament is a big, big deal.
Competition began in mid-February, and featured 14 teams from countries across the world playing in 49 matches. India, the reigning cricket world champions, was considered to be one of the favorites going into the tournament, but was knocked out in its semifinal against Australia (a perennial contender for the cup) on Thursday.
The Aussies are the most decorated team in World Cup history with four championship wins, three of which occurred consecutively between 1999-2007; India is a close runner-up with two titles.
As you could imagine, the event is creating big money from ticket sales and television viewership across the world. Some 288 million Indians tuned in for their country’s match against Pakistan on Feb. 15, the largest TV audience an event in India has had over the past four years.
Between ticket sales, sponsorships and TV ads combined, organizers in Australia and New Zealand believe the tournament will result in profits of more than $200 million (Australian dollars) according to the BBC.
Leading up to the World Cup, economists, government officials and the ICC touted the economic benefits the tournament will bring for the two host nations.
Tim Harcourt of the University of New South Wales Business School told the BBC that Australia should experience a big boost in tourism and expenditures from hosting the tournament. And, it indeed might appear that way as visitors spent $31 million on hotel rooms for the India-Pakistan match in Adelaide alone.
But other analysts were not so optimistic about the World Cup’s economic impact. Although existing infrastructure allowed both nations to host the event without massive building projects, the tourism boost for both countries is likely minimal, according to sports economics expert Sam Richardson.
The World Cup will undoubtedly attract thousands of people to Australia and New Zealand, but Richardson says these visitors might be keeping away other tourists who might be looking for a normal trip down under during the summer.
Another interesting money angle to the this year’s Cricket World Cup is the Indian national team.
India, the world’s largest cricket nation, traditionally travels poorly when it leaves its side of the globe. The team won the World Cup on its own soil in 2011, but it was knocked out in the first round of the ’07 Cup in the West Indies.
This not only disappointed its fans — 80 percent of Indians under 25 follow cricket — but also resulted in a “financial disaster” for the country’s broadcasters, according to the Economist.
The magazine also posed an interesting question about Indian cricket. If cricket is the second most populous nation’s favorite sport, why aren’t Indians dominating every tournament?
The explanation for India’s underperformance is complicated; it has to do with malnutrition and poverty, as well as bad sports administration, and an elitist cricketing culture that favours batsmen over the hardworking attacking bowlers required to succeed abroad. But this giant shortcoming is clearly representative of India’s broader failure to harness the talents of its giant population. Indeed, its economic and cricketing failures are for partly the same reasons— albeit that, in both areas, India’s record is improving.
A similar article in The Conversation said regional issues with gambling and corruption have also held Indian cricket back.
In 2013, three famous cricketers — S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan — were arrested for spot fixing along with 11 bookies, and eventually led to a nationwide search for other spot fixers throughout the sport. Sreesanth and Chavan were later given lifetime bans from the game.
In the U.S., the ICC World Cup Final will be played at 11:30 pm Saturday. ESPN holds the broadcast rights, and there’s a deal on its app for those who want to stay up late and watch the match.
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