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West Indies cricket chief says T20 World Cup schedule has been made keeping India prime time in mind: ‘Majority of revenues comes from one market’

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As matches at the ongoing T20 World Cup — co-hosted by USA and West Indies — take place at different times of the day, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) CEO Johnny Grave, in an interview with The Indian Express, admitted that given a ‘majority of the revenue from ICC event comes from one market’, the schedule has been made keeping the Indian time zone in mind.

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He also spoke about the multifold benefits for West Indies, as well as associate nations, of hosting major ICC events and the guarantees given to Windies players that no international cricket will be played during their major franchise tournament commitments – the IPL and CPL.

Excerpts:

Since the West Indies is in a unique geographical location compared to other cricketing nations, how difficult is it for you to arrange games according to different time zones?

I think everyone accepts that the vast majority of revenues for all ICC events comes from one market. Therefore it is really important that we find a balance between starting matches at prime time in India and for home fans. We have half the matches early for Star Sports and then we have gone as late as possible so they will start early in the morning in India, so they should still get a decent viewership.

We as hosts can focus on the local fans attending the evening games and the 10:30 morning games will allow us to get school kids to watch some World Cup cricket for free.

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In modern times we are seeing the big three countries (India, England and Australia since 2015) host more ICC events and why won’t countries like South Africa and West Indies get to host them regularly?

I think that’s one of the most important parts of the overall global picture. The last eight years has seen all the big men’s events be hosted by just the three top nations. This current cycle sees ICC men’s events go to most of the top cricketing nations in the world; West Indies are hosting now with the USA co-hosting, Pakistan then have the Champions Trophy, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be co-hosting with India, New Zealand with Australia, South Africa with Zimbabwe and Namibia and then also Ireland and Scotland with England as well. What that means is that the money generated by host boards is going to be shared by far more members than in the previous eight-year cycle. The money used to be retained by the biggest three who already have a huge economic advantage from their domestic markets with the money they receive from their host broadcasters.

West Indies cricket chief Johnny Grave. (X) West Indies cricket chief Johnny Grave said a T20 World Cup win will be a boost to the board’s income in the next cycle of the ICC rights distribution. (X)

The other important factor in hosting benefits is the capital investment that our governments have put into the national stadiums. It shows the importance of hosting World Cups in improving facilities. Barbados alone has spent 50 Million Barbados dollars which is 25 Million US Dollars. That kind of economic impact or injection of capital into our facilities is huge and simply would not happen without a World Cup. If you were to benchmark our cricket system on a global basis, then the West Indies cricket system’s facilities would be the one key area where we fall short of the highest global standards. The fact that we’ve had six of our national stadiums and some other grounds in those six host countries undergo serious investment and renovation, probably for the first time since 2007.

How important do you think that, in the current cricketing landscape, is it that West Indies lifts the trophy and do you think it would rejuvenate passion in fans again to come and watch West Indies more?

It is extremely important as it would be a huge boost to our cricket system and the entire region. The reaction of our fans and the Caribbean people on the back of the Test win at the Gabba was unbelievable and we saw how that resonated across the region. If we can lift a record third title then it will have a huge impact, not just on Cricket West Indies but the whole Caribbean. The new ICC economic model also has a performance component that determines how much funding you receive, so if we perform well in ICC events it will be a potential boost to our income in the next cycle of the ICC rights distribution.

There have been turbulences between (players and the board) before you have taken over and in recent times we have seen a steady improvement. What have you done to change over the years?

Very early on we gave players a guaranteed window every year in their contracts that they could play both the IPL and CPL and assured them we would not play any international cricket in those windows. It is just about trying to get good scheduling and then good open communication with the players to try and find the balance. We respect the fact that players now have a choice so if for whatever reason they want to make themselves unavailable for a tour, then we give them a NOC, but we never hold their place in the West Indies team. So, they have to understand they run the risk of their replacement doing well and then they have to fight to win that place back.

We’ve stopped worrying about the players being unavailable. If they want to maximise their earnings playing franchise cricket at whatever point in their career as long as our players are actively involved in cricket and actively working hard on their skills, it’s fine.

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