87% of the survey respondents said the Olympics should feature the T20 format of the sport.
New Delhi: In the first and the largest ever global market research on cricket, released by the International Cricket Council (ICC) Wednesday, the sport was revealed to have over a billion fans across the world, despite the fact that it is played in only a handful of countries.
With more than 300 million participants, in the surveyed age category of 16-69, 87% of the respondents said the Olympics should feature the T20 format of the sport.
The survey further revealed that women’s cricket has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. Over 68% respondents showed interest in women’s cricket. The longest format of the game, Test cricket, also witnessed a favourable 69% support.
The average age of the respondents in the survey, conducted by Nielsen Sports across the world between November 2017 and January, was 34 years — 61% men and 39% women.
Cricket in Olympics
Even before the survey results indicated viewer’s curiosity, earlier this year, chief executive officer Dave Richardson said ICC will make a push for the possibility of including cricket in Olympics.
“We can’t go to Paris. But we have continued our talks with IOC and with LA in due course, hopefully by 2028 we will have cricket in the Olympics,” he said.
The only time cricket was played in the Olympics was in Paris, 118 years ago. After that appearance, cricket never found a place in the multi-sports global event.
However, it did become a part of the Asian Games as a medal sport for the first time in Guangzhou, China, in 2010 and was even played in Incheon, South Korea, 2010. Nevertheless, it was dropped from the upcoming 2018 Asian Games, scheduled to be held in Indonesia.
Ascent of women’s cricket
Viewership of women’s cricket is certainly on the rise. A record number of 180 million people were estimated to have watched the ICC’s Women’s World Cup 2017. This was an increase of 300% in terms of viewing hours compared to the 2013 edition.
In India, 156 million people watched the event, out of which 80 million were rural viewers. Clearly, the belief that women in India are not interested in cricket doesn’t hold.
Of those surveyed, 70% also wanted more coverage of women’s cricket.
Despite common wisdom that interest in Test cricket has lowered substantially, the survey indicates otherwise with 69% popularity.
Though comparatively lower than the shorter version of the games — 88 % of the respondents showed interested in 50-over format while 92% preferred T20 — the five-day format has been able to maintain its charm.
With the ICC announcing world’s first Test Match Championship, starting in 2019 featuring the top nine test playing nations, test cricket viewership might soar again.