September 20, 2007


India's innings: A new form of cricket sparks a fight over a lucrative market in India (The Economist, 9/20/07)

SNEERING cricket purists call it “hit and giggle”. But “Twenty20”, a new three-hour version of the elegant and at times seemingly interminable game, is serious business. In South Africa the inaugural Twenty20 world tournament, at which the top 12 cricket-playing countries are represented, is playing to sell-out crowds. It is accompanied by American-style razzmatazz previously unseen in cricket: feverish commentary, drumming dance music, scantily clad cheerleaders and all. And away from the stadiums, another contest is raging—to bring Twenty20 cricket to India, the world's biggest cricket market.

On September 13th the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which claims a monopoly on the game in the country, unveiled plans for a Twenty20 cricket league, the India Premier League (IPL). Modelled on England's football league, it will involve eight teams, based in big cities and privately owned through a franchise agreement with the BCCI. This was the BCCI's response to the formation of a rebel Twenty20 league, the India Cricket League (ICL), by the Essel Group, an Indian conglomerate, earlier this year.

There is much to fight over. Cricket is the single shared passion of over a billion people in India, and another 350m across South Asia. Games between India's and Pakistan's national teams draw 400m television viewers in India alone. This brings in vast revenues. In 2005 the BCCI generated around $50m, mostly from broadcasting rights. This year it will turn over some $300m. And that is before it feels the effects of Twenty20, which could be seismic.

The new format is a revolution in brevity, designed for television.

Three hours only gets you to the 6th inning of a Yankees/Sox game.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 20, 2007 4:17 PM

It's not as fun to watch as one day internationals but the recent tournament in South Africa's been pretty good.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at September 20, 2007 5:09 PM

Why not just go all the way and import baseball? Are they afraid of Bug Selig's evil influence?

(And how go them Sawx? Too bad the Mariners imploded, otherwise the Sawx'd be looking the distinct possiblily of having October off...)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 20, 2007 6:34 PM

"Three hours only gets you to the 6th inning of a Yankees/Sox game."

Sounds like a good argument for moving MLB to six inning games.

Posted by: Brad at September 20, 2007 8:50 PM

South Africa just crashed out of the Twenty20 tournament. Funny thing is that SA didn't have to win the deciding game. They just had to avoid losing by too many runs. Couldn't manage the feat, though.

Australia, New Zealand, India and Pakistan are through to the semis. If you know anything about cricket, predicting the winner shouldn't be too hard.

...Although the Aussies have lost two games in the tournament. Upsets are a lot easier in three hours than in five days. At least this tournament is over in two weeks, unlike most world cups which last two years.

Posted by: Casey Abell at September 21, 2007 7:41 AM

Now that I think about it, forget the upsets. Australia will win easy, like they always do. I know, the Aussies whine that the Twenty20 game doesn't suit them. Gilchrist is particularly obnoxious about this.

What hooey. When everything was on the line, Australia stomped Sri Lanka, a very good limited-overs team, by ten wickets with half their overs to spare. The demolition took barely two hours.

Even without Ponting the Aussie batting order is too deep and too strong. And their bowlers are good enough to keep Yuvraj from hitting six sixes in an over, unlike a certain other team which shall remain nameless.

Australia and Pakistan in the finals, with Australia an easy (non-fixed) winner.

Posted by: Casey Abell at September 21, 2007 8:07 AM

"limited-overs team, by ten wickets with half their overs to spare"

What language is this?

Posted by: Bob at September 21, 2007 10:07 AM