September 18, 2007


Twenty20 and India's GDP Growth

Obligatory Disclaimer: I follow Cricket with enthusiasm that slightly edges the weather forecast. (I know, in this country where Cricket a religion, I might get death threats for such blasphemous statement. Please, don't kill me. I am still on the wrong side of 20s.)

In India, where everybody has passionate views about every aspect of cricket, a major change like Twenty20 will serve as fodder for next few years. While purist lament on the game losing its grace, there are liberal minded folks who love the change. All the same, they seem to agree, reluctantly or euphorically, on one thing - Twenty20 is here to stay. In that light I have a interesting take on the impact of new format of game.

Here are the ODIs played by Indian Cricket team in last 5 years - 28(2003), 32(2004), 27(2005), 30(2006), 25(till Sep 2007). And the same stats for test are - 5(2003), 12(2004), 8(2005), 12(2006), 6(till Sep 2007). So the total cricketing action per year is 53 days (2003), 92(2004), 67(2005), 90(2006), 55(till Sep 2007). That is, anywhere from 15% to 25% of year has some cricketing action.

Think of the day when India is playing a game (even if it is against the team ranked #27 in the ICC list. Wait, there are only 12 teams. Whatever.) That day almost entire India comes to a standstill. If a doctor is in the middle of a critical cardiac operation, he will also ask "Score kya hua?" after every 15 minutes. That is the kind of obsession our country has for cricket. Essentially, entire country is not working on those days. If you come to think of it, we are talking about productivity loss of 7-12% (after discounting the weekends, abandoned matches, lesser interest test cricket, etc.)

With Twenty20, this picture will change. It will eat the share of ODIs and Tests. But, since there is little room for increasing the total number of days of cricketing action (due to travel), automatically, fewer days will be spent on ODIs and Test. Which immediately translates to less damage to productivity. And the kicker would be Twenty20 will not affect productivity much as I expect most of the matches being played during prime time ie 1900 hrs to 2200 hrs. And if Twenty20 becomes more popular than ODIs, then there will be dwindling interest in ODIs and Test.

Bottom line: If Twenty20 becomes popular in next few years, India will finally achieve the magical double-digit GDP growth.

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