Considering Major League Baseball’s recent rule changes designed to “improve” the pace of play of a game that lasts three hours, it is a safe bet that Americans won’t ever be too involved with a sport who’s most important matches last for five days. As a wise man once said: “You’ve gotta know what a crumpet is to understand cricket.” But, there is something notably American about the 2015 Cricket World Cup currently being played in Australia and New Zealand: the prize money.
From 1975, the first year of the Cricket World Cup, through 1999, the prize money was awarded in Pounds Sterling. But, since 2003 it has been paid US dollars. For the 2015 Cricket World Cup, the ICC will be handing out USD 10 million in total prize money, with 3.975 million going to the winning side. Clearly, none of the players who have a chance at winning will be bringing the money back to the US, so how will the use of US Dollars affect the take home pay of the winning team?
Currently, the top six teams in One Day International Cricket (the format of the World Cup) are, from one to six, Australia, India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and England. Considering the recent surge of the US Dollar, the cricketers involved must be pleased that the tournament is taking place in 2015.
Taking number one ranked Australia as an example – that $3.975 million USD prize, awarded today, would be worth 5.1 Million Australian Dollars. Had this been awarded on September 1st of last year it would be worth 4.2 Million AUD.
In essence, the five months would make a difference of over 900,000 AUD in prize money, about 25,000 AUD per player. The difference is comparable for all the top ranked teams as we’ve seen an average gain of about 20% for the Dollar across these six currency pairs. The bottom line: All these non-American players and nations involved in the least American of sporting championships have a major stake in the strength of the US economy on the day the prize is awarded.
To be sure, the cricketers are not cricketing for the money alone. To put into perspective the national pride at stake, one billion people tuned into India vs. Pakistan on February 15th. This year’s Super Bowl had just over 12% of that viewership. The minds of the players on the two teams in the March 29th World Cup final will certainly be focused on the match. But, the following day, when the Dollars get divided, we can expect the winners to be checking the markets and hoping to see an ever stronger American Dollar.