Sunday, June 28, 2009

A pointless ODI series

It's true. I'm finding it very hard to get switched on about this West Indies-India ODI series. Nothing, in my mind, seems quite as pointless as a one-day series which is not part of a tournament or a test tour. I dislike these encounters, and it has not really made a difference who the opposition is. I didn't care much for the seven-match series organized against the Australians in 2007 (and I don't think things will change later in the year when the Aussies come visiting). When ODI series are part of a test tour, they fit into the overall scheme of things by either acting as appetizer for the main course, or as a way for one team to continue its winning ways or to regain some lost honor. On their own, a series of ODIs seems bereft of any interest whatsoever.

Why are these series arranged, and why is it India that leads the way in arranging them? There are a few trilateral ones (I believe one has been arranged between India-SL-NZ later this year - I'll be sleeping through that one too). My guess is that the countries' boards need the money; they talk to the BCCI; the BCCI sets up things, sells TV rights, gives a piece to the board, and everyone is happy. But surely this has to fall apart at some time. Are Indian audiences tuning into this series? (I'd welcome some information in this regard). Will advertisers pay the same amount of money? Is the 50-over game a money-spinner for them in the same way as it used to be?

The few highlights I've seen from the first game seem to indicate that we don't have full houses for ODIs anymore (at least in the Windies). How long it will take for this form of the game to die out is anyone's guess, but the sheer pointlessness of this series (at least in my mind), the dreary vibe at the ground, and the general lack of enthusiasm for 50-50 given the presence of the T20 upstart indicates that things are not looking too promising.

A 50-50 tournament between the world's best teams, and them alone, or perhaps a short series of three matches before or after a test series might still work. But these sorts of encounters, in my mind, don't, and will not. Their singular contribution, I reckon, will be to drive further nails into the 50-50 coffin.

13 Comments:

Blogger straight point said...

pointed post on pointless series...

it wud have been even more absurd had india got to the finals...then they wud hv got time only to kiss trophy and play first odi...

untill unless bcci knew it in advance that we wont reach finals of t20 world... :)

1:09 AM  
Anonymous rootofall3vil said...

I catch up with the score or watch an over or two but that is about it. Nobody I know is sitting down to watch the entire matches around here. Even the players look barely interested on the ground.
That brings me to the question, what was the last time we saw packed houses in a match in W/I against W/I? I remember those days when people used to break the barriers and run on the pitch every so often during a match in Caribbean.

4:13 AM  
Blogger Mohan said...

"the BCCI sets up things, sells TV rights, gives a piece to the board, and everyone is happy."

BCCI doesn't make anything from these away tours. It is the hosting board which owns (and sells) TV rights. BCCI uses such odi's as a way of keeping the other boards on its side when they need their votes on any matter in ICC.

4:19 AM  
Blogger Aditya said...

Agree with Mohan, The BCCI does not make any money from this series!

This series was arranged as the West Indies traveled to India before the World cup (50 overs one) in 2007 for a 4 match ODI series. So this is just BCCI returning the favour! and its quite clear who makes more money by selling the rights.
The matches in the WI continue till 3:30 to 4 AM IST! for the second innings in the first match after the 20th over there were almost no advertisement breaks! that too for a close match!!

and on the tri series in Sri Lanka it has been arranged as 'strengthen' relations with the Sri Lankan Cricket board and may be returning a favour for allowing their players to cancel the tour of england and letting them play in the IPL!
thankfully the tri series will only last for 4 odi's ! :)

8:56 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

SP: Enough of the conspiracy theories! :)

Root: I can't blame the players for not looking very interested - and as for the crowds, numbers are on a steadily decreasing trend in the Windies.

Mohan: Thanks for the clarification on the nature of the deal. I wish boards would just find a way to come up with a more balanced package.

Aditya: Thanks for the correction. I hadn't made the connection with the 2007 ODI series (because I've forgotten about it!). The Tri-series announcement almost made me weep when I read about it.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Krish said...

Samir, I have been wondering how the market works in all this. If people are not watching the cricket, shouldn't people (advertisers, TV networks) be noticing this and reducing their bids for the series? And doesn't that affect the rest of the food chain?

If, as we suspect, the TV audiences are declining for these series, the boards will not be able to host them in the long run because of declining revenues.

11:56 AM  
Blogger samir said...

Krish: I have a feeling that that is how it is going to work. Perhaps this series is an exception because of the bad timezones in India but I'm interested to see how things go with the seven-match series against the Aussies later in the year.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Mohan said...

samir: depends on "balanced" by whose perspective. I am always puzzled by the Test fans' sense of entitlement. If one goes by viewership numbers and attendance figures, then the current schedule is definitely imbalanced, with a heavy bias for Test cricket. In the last 2 years, Indian team has played 125 days of Test cricket and only 62 days of odi's. Is it in line with the popularity of the respective formats? Even in these T20 days, odi's - including the pointless odi series - still generate decent TRP ratings of around 3.5-4. Whereas an iconic Test series like India-Australia doesn't even generate a rating of 1, even on weekends.

2:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The IND-AUS series to be held later this year and even the one held in 2007 was very much a part of the FTP. IND-AUS and IND-RSA play ODI and test series seperately.

if you remember last year when AUS toured IND they played only tests. same was the case with RSA.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Mohan said...

The 7-match series against Australia in 2007 had an *average* rating of 5.5 for all matches. The 4-Test series against the same opponent last year had all of 5 *sessions* which had a rating in the range 1 to 2.5 (weekends, when India was batting well). The remaining 55 sessions (90% of the series) had a rating lower than 1, probably closer to 0 than 1.

3:26 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Mohan: I'm not sure comparing days telecast is the right way to compare tests and ODIs - you'd have to play five ODIs to match a test (your numbers indicate 25 tests max v. 62 odis). Your point about decreasing attendance and viewership is well-taken, but I think you are missing the point I was trying to make originally. All I would like is for ODIs to be part of a test tour, thats all. I don't like standalone ODI series. Its really not a ODI v. test complaint either. In fact, if we had ODIs before a test series, I'd be even happier, because they would serve as an appetizer.

Anonymous: Mores the pity, thats the point.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Mohan said...

samir: ah, but requiring that odi's be part of Test tours (and I am sure you wouldn't want no less than 3 Tests and no more than 7 odi's per tour), you are basically requiring that the Test:ODI ratio be maintained at 2:1 in terms of playing days (or the time allotted). But since on the other hand, you also mentioned finding the "right balance", I just pointed out that if we really want right balance it should be something like 40 odi's for every Test match played (and then may be 80 days of IPL).

7:34 AM  
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1:52 AM  

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