Strong teams attract crowds for international cricket

A cricket ball hitting the stumps
06 Mar 2014 09:00:00.000
The strength of the team — not the promise of a close contest — is the biggest draw to crowds in international cricket, new research has found.

The findings from the study, published in the journal Applied Economics, appear to contradict previous research which suggested that attendance is largely determined by how closely matched the two teams are during a game.

Economists Dr Abhinav Sacheti and Professor David Paton from Nottingham University Business School, in collaboration with Dr Ian Gregory-Smith from the University of Sheffield, analysed the number of spectators at around 400 Test matches that took place in England, Australia and New Zealand between 1980 and 2012.
Click here for full story
The new research found that the closeness of contest has only a small effect and the most important factor affecting crowd numbers is the absolute strength of teams.

Strong teams versus equal contest

The findings come hot on the heels of recently agreed changes to the structure of international cricket which have placed more power in the hands of the national boards of India, England and Australia.

Dr Sacheti explained: “Our results suggest that crowds want to watch good players even if the match ends up being an unequal contest. So, from the point of view generating crowds, you are better off having a strong team play a weak team then two mediocre teams playing each other.

“While the attraction towards strong home teams is unsurprising, the interest in strong away teams suggests fans are interested in watching high quality cricket even if the team they support may be likelier to lose. This result holds up even when we control for other factors such as ground size, weather conditions, timing of the games and income levels.”

To illustrate the actual effect of team strength, the economists report that an increase in ten points (using the officialICC ranking system) for the away team leads to more than 500 extra spectators per day on average.  An increase of 10 ranking points for the home team leads to about 1,400 extra spectators per day.

The findings have implications for the way in which Test cricket might be restructured.  One idea which has frequently been proposed in recent years is to split Test cricket into two tiers. Although such a split is likely to lead to more contests between teams of similar strengths, the latest research suggests this would have little impact on crowds.  Indeed, by depriving weaker teams of games against the strongest opposition, the disparity between crowds across countries may well increase.

Uncertainty of Outcome or Strengths of Teams: An Economic Analysis of Attendance Demand for International Cricket by Abhinav Sacheti, Ian Gregory-Smith and David Paton is published in Applied Economics at

— Ends —

Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our new Globelynx fixed camera facility at the University. For further information please contact a member of the Communications team on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email or see the Globelynx website for how to register for this service.

For up to the minute media alerts follow us on Twitter

Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university among graduate employers, the world’s greenest university, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World's Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Abhinav Sacheti on +971 (0)563594832, or Professor David Paton on +44 (0) 115 8466601,

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

Additional resources

No additional resources for this article

Related articles

Home umpires favour their own teams in Test matches

Published Date
Friday 28th November 2014

Watching sport: what kind of fan are you?

Published Date
Friday 29th July 2011

East Midlands to lead the way in sports medicine

Published Date
Monday 9th January 2012

University Groundscare expert wins industry award

Published Date
Thursday 20th December 2012

Media Relations - External Relations

The University of Nottingham
YANG Fujia Building
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5798