A research undertaken at the Nottingham University Business School and the University of Sheffield has indicated that one-sided contests in One-Day Internationals are a primary reason behind the diminishing spectator interest in the format.
The research was conducted by Professor David Paton of the Nottingham University Business School and was co-authored by Dr Ian Gregory-Smith of the University of Sheffield and Dr Abhinav Sacheti.
The researchers studied data from over 500 ODIs played in England and Australia over a 34-year period between the years 1981 and 2015.
In the 2019 edition of the Cricket World Cup, which will be hosted by England and Wales the number of participating teams are set to be reduced to 10 from 14.
Professor Paton has stated that the problem is not with having the associate teams at the World Cup, but it was the one-sided contests between teams which is responsible for the erosion of crowd support.
Further stressing on the importance of minimising fixtures which feature teams with a huge difference in quality, Paton said that the fans of the game want to witness close contests.
“There isn’t necessarily a problem with having ‘minnows’ at the World Cup,” said Paton.
“If two of the smaller nations were to play each other, for example, then they ought to produce a close contest – which, according to our findings, is what fans want to see.
“But the authorities have to be careful to minimise the number of fixtures with too big a difference in team quality, otherwise overall attendances are likely to be poor.
“It would be dangerous to bank on, say, England fans filling Lord’s to watch a match they expect to be won inside 20 overs.
“That’s not what they want to pay to see.”
Dr Gregory-Smith also advocated for a careful scheduling of fixtures during the 2019 Cricket World Cup so as to minimise the number of one-sided contests between teams.
“The organisers of the World Cup face a significant challenge over one-sided matches,” said Dr Gregory-Smith.
“If the tournament is to be a success then careful thought must be given to its structure, because consumer appetite for predictable fixtures is undoubtedly limited.”
Dr Sacheti was of the opinion that by investing in the development of cricket among the affiliate and associate nations the difference in the quality of the teams can be reduced.
“Ultimately, everything points towards the importance of investing in developing cricket in the ICC’s less familiar associate and affiliate member nations,” said Dr Sacheti.
Paton also suggested that by pushing for inclusion of cricket in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, the associate and affiliate nations will be benefitted.
However, Paton argued that the Twenty20 format is the most suitable for the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games which leaves the ODI format stranded in a no man's land.
“An obvious route – albeit one the ICC has ignored for years – is to push for cricket to be included in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
“Apart from the raised profile this would bring, many national sporting authorities prioritise funding for Olympic sports.
“This would help the minnows get bigger and better.
“Unfortunately from the ODI point of view, it’s widely accepted that the only viable format for Olympic cricket, bearing in mind the logistical constraints, would be T20.
“This underlines the potentially perilous position in which ODIs find themselves, given that those who value quality favour Tests and those who prefer thrills want uncertainty.
“If T20 offers the likeliest route to a more level playing field and a consequent increase in uncertainty then where do ODIs stand?
“The worst-case answer is nowhere.”
For this research, the researchers studied factors like attendances, team strength, the outcome of the matches and uncertainty of the results to identify the trends in demand for the ODI format.
© Cricket World 2016