The title of this article may sound controversial, but that’s the reality. As everyone knows, BCCI (India) is the financial power-house among the cricketing nations. Subcontinental countries – India, Pakistan, Srilanka & Bangladesh have the most passionate fan following, TV viewership of the matches, and hence the revenue – with India holding the lion’s share.
First, look at the structure of the World Cup. Two Groups – A & B. Two minnows in each group, and at the end of league games the top four teams would proceed to the so called “quarter finals”. The truth is there are only 8 teams worth competing in the World Cup. The world cup should ideally start with these 8 teams. Now, why did ICC do this? ICC has learnt it the hard-way from the previous world-cups. In 2007 World Cup, when India & Pakistan exited early from the World Cup the overall interest came down. The objective is to ensure that the teams stay long in the world-cup. Would you watch a Bangladesh vs England match, if India is already out of the world cup? So, for most part of the world cup meaningless league matches are held where the test playing nations make their fans happy by thrashing the minnows. While I don’t deny the fact that the minnows have played well in patches, clearly they seem to be a league away from the main teams.
Second, look at the schedule. India’s first four matches were against – Bangladesh, England, Ireland & Netherlands. Why not South Africa, West Indies & England first? You may say that it was by lot – I wouldn’t believe that. Once again, the objective was to ensure that the viewership was maintained at high levels by making India play against easier teams first. If India had first two games against South Africa, West Indies, and the third one against England. And suppose, if India had lost the first two games & tied the third one (as it happened) you wouldn’t really follow the other games.
Third, the media gave the Indian cricket team the “favorites” tag to win the world-cup. Why? Money again. Wouldn’t more of us follow the matches if “they” say that India is a favorite, knowing that the team’s bowling is weak & it has been that way for ages. “Experts” like Viv Richards, Wasim Akram etc wouldn’t hesitate to say that India are favorites – Saying so would get them some super publicity in Indian Media & chances in TV Talk Shows. Boils down to money!
Finally, all that India (or any other team) has to do is win one serious game (quarter finals), to enter the semi finals & keep their fans interested. And, win 2 serious games to enter the final, and make their fans crazy. If India reaches the final, maximum money would be made!
The cricket world cup, is an excellent case-study in the making to maximize revenue, using the law of probabilities!