The ICC is expecting to witness major success from this year’s World Cup in India, from business to tourism, whilst also hoping for a significant boost to national and global economics.
However, just days into the tournament, the main talking point has been the low attendances at the matches. Therefore, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is facing major criticism regarding ticket sales mismanagement.
For a cricket-loving country like India, it was expected that this World Cup would be a strong audience-puller, considering the build-up of the tournament in the country.
One-Day International (ODI) cricket is fighting for relevance, caught between the history of test cricket and the action-packed T20 format. This is why this year’s World Cup is so important.
ODI cricket is a money spinner and remains the most coveted prize for players. However, what used to be the most exciting form of white ball cricket is now at risk of being played less, with little opportunity to be played due to scheduling.
Ticket sales have been a major issue in the build-up to the World Cup. The fixtures were released just 100 days before the start of the tournament and were then revised less than two months out from the opening match.
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Tickets then went on sale to the public just 41 days before the tournament began, and many fans were unable to access the tickets on the website, leaving them unhappy. Tickets for the India matches went on sale as per venues for the matches while there was a different process for the non-India matches.
It is not just the ticket sales that have contributed to the lack of spectators in the opening matches, there is an inevitable bias towards the host nation – every India match is sold out. Not every spectator will show up to the first ball of the day, therefore attendance should be based on the final figure of the day.
Many people will go to the matches after work, with games starting in the early afternoon. Therefore, it is expected that by the time of the second innings, most spectators would have taken their seats.
There is also an issue with the hot temperatures in India – Ahmedabad is experiencing temperatures of up to 36 degrees. This is putting people off wanting to sit in the unsheltered sun and would therefore attend the matches later in the day.
The opening match of the tournament, between England and New Zealand, saw very few fans at the start, with supporters trickling in throughout the day. However, vast numbers of seats were still empty.
Nevertheless, the stadium where the match took place seats 132,000, and organizers have suggested that there was in fact a record crowd for the opening game of the World Cup. However, this does not change cricket fans’ reaction to seeing such poor support for a World Cup.
As the game of cricket is so loved in India, it is not surprising that the audience capacity for India’s opening game was around 90% capacity. It was important for the spectators watching from home to see that the tournament is being supported as crowds and excitement bring a level of anticipation for the viewer. However, fans want to see support for all matches, not just for the hosts.
India, as a country, holds so much power financially in the cricketing world, including contributing over 70% to the ICC’s overall revenue. Being the only host country, the economic revenue from this World Cup will not just have an effect on India, but globally.
Even though ODI cricket is not played as frequently as it used to, the ODI World Cup is still cricket’s main event, financially and in popularity. This year’s World Cup has agreed 27 sponsorship deals and 34 broadcasting deals across the globe.
For the younger fans, some may find ODI cricket boring, being more entertained by the quick and entertaining T20 format. This is becoming more evident throughout this World Cup that it does not carry the same charm it once did.
There is nothing that can be changed now in terms of how the run-up to the World Cup was organized, but the tournament still has the hopes of keeping ODI cricket alive. Cricket in India is an emotion and it is the experience in India that will have the most impact on its fans.
Those who are lucky enough to have bought tickets will have booked accommodation, restaurants, and flights, and those not traveling will be able to take in the atmosphere on their TV screens.
For the tournament’s attendance, India making it to the final would be great for the sport as it would see a sell-out crowd, and spectators around the world would be able to witness a fantastic festival-like atmosphere.
Even if India do not win the World Cup, the Indian economy will approximately gain $1.64 billion. Additionally, the economic impact of both direct and indirect spending during the tournament is expected to be at least $1.6 billion. This will provide great revenue financially as India are such a key factor within the cricket world.
Despite the huge economic gain this year’s World Cup can provide, there are major concerns about inflation. Airline tickets and hotel rentals have already witnessed extreme price increases for the duration of the tournament. For spectators in India, this may be a major deterrent for attending the matches, which does not help the battle for ODI cricket.
This tournament is still in its early stages, with a total of 48 matches being played between October 5 to November 5. It could be a reasonable suggestion that this year’s World Cup is just seeing a slow build-up in spectators and by the latter stages of the competition, there will hopefully be sell-out crowds for matches not involving the host nation and the atmosphere and excitement will gradually build.
The tournament will only provide huge benefits, both economically and for ODI cricket across the world, if it lives up to its expectations and reignites the love for this format when it concludes.
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