ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: New Zealand's time zone conflict, subscription rates dilute impact of Kiwi's excellent performance

The cricket World Cup final will not stop the nation like the 2011 Rugby World Cup did. But it is still a significant event, and is likely to still have an impact on New Zealand's national productivity. It is an event that has, and will, disrupt sleep and capture the attention.

Michael Wagener, Jul 14, 2019 10:32:38 IST

A country of less than five million people making the final of one of the largest sporting events on the planet. The country must be going nuts right?

Not exactly.

Cricket is New Zealand's favourite summer sport, but it does not attract the public's attention nearly as much as rugby union does. Even during the World Cup, the news of Henry Nicholls possible injury has been completely overshadowed by Beauden Barrett signing to play for the Blues franchise in Super Rugby.

While cricket has certainly been popular, and a thing that some people have been talking about, it has not grabbed the public attention the same way that previous Rugby World Cups or various America's Cup sailing regattas have.

In a quick man-in-the-street survey, roughly one-third of the people I spoke to were not even aware that the Cricket World Cup was on. Of those who were aware, one quarter were still not interested in the slightest.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: New Zealands time zone conflict, subscription rates dilute impact of Kiwis excellent performance

New Zealand are into their second consecutive World Cup final. AP

However, there were also people who were not normally interested in cricket but have developed an interest in this event throughout the course of the World Cup.

The general perception of most fans was one of "I did not expect them to get this far. I'm really proud that they did, and think they have a chance, but they probably won't win."

A couple of people that I spoke to said that while they were interested personally, only about a third of the people at their workplaces were interested and it certainly has not captured the attention of everyone.

One man complained that he watched the match, then went to work and almost nobody wanted to talk to him about it.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, cricket matches take a long time and the games starting at 9.30 pm make it very difficult to watch. The matches have mostly been showing on a subscription television service (Sky TV) meaning that people that are not subscribers have had fewer opportunities to follow.

The 2015 Rugby World Cup was played in Europe and so required New Zealanders to get up during the night to watch the games. As a result, the ratings were roughly half what they had been when the event was held in New Zealand. Even making people lose two hours of sleep makes them less likely to watch.

In contrast, the America's Cup sailing was on free-to-air TV and each race took about 25 minutes. The races tended to be on at breakfast time so people often watched them as they had breakfast and then talked about them at work that day.

The free-to-air cricket coverage is actually following a similar format. They have a highlights package with a panel discussion on at breakfast time, and for one of the people I spoke to that is how they followed the World Cup. But in the age of push notifications and social media, watching highlights after most people know the result is not as engaging as live sport.

A popular option for watching sport in New Zealand, particularly for those without Sky TV, is to watch at a local pub. The hours of the current World Cup make this difficult, especially when matched up with New Zealand's liquor licensing laws.

New Zealand used to have a national closing time, where all licensed venues had to stop selling alcohol — 6 PM. It was aimed to try to limit harm from excessive drinking, but instead lead to a phenomenon known as the "6 o'clock swill" where men would go to the pub after work, drink as much as they possibly could between arriving and closing time, then stagger out onto the roads and cause chaos. This was clearly not a policy that worked how it was intended.

In response, there have been numerous changes to the liquor laws trying to find the right balance. In doing that, it's made for a hodgepodge of laws that can be difficult to follow for some licensed venues. It has also resulted in a bunch of different closing times and rules around them.

Bars in Auckland must stop serving alcohol at 4 AM, then all patrons must have left the premises by 4.30 AM. The matches start at 9:30 pm, giving 7 hours to watch the match. At least one match this World Cup went well over that (New Zealand vs West Indies took 8 hours and 12 minutes) so watching a match in a bar is a recipe for missing the final 10 overs if the match is close. And Auckland has the most liberal bylaws. Closing time for most sports bars in Hamilton is midnight, Wellington is 4 AM, Christchurch is midnight and Dunedin is 2 AM.

An alternative to watching in a pub or bar is to watch in a sports club, casino or a non-licensed venue, such as a McDonalds restaurant. This is sensible, but often lacks the atmosphere that is part of the attraction of a licensed venue.

Then there's the expense of watching a cricket match at a venue. Often you are expected to have a drink in front of you if you want to stay on site. That's much easier for an 80-minute rugby match than 8 hours of cricket. Cricket-loving students on low incomes often master the art of making a drink last for a long time to cut down the cost of watching a match, but it's still prohibitively expensive.

Despite all these challenges, it is still expected that potentially as much as 15 percent of the New Zealand population will be watching the match. A spokesman for the Employers and Manufacturers Association has encouraged their members to be easy on any workers who are exceptionally tired at work on Monday, or who ask to come in late. One of New Zealand's largest companies has told their workers that if they watched the cricket, and their job description allows it, that they can start and finish work late on Monday.

The staff of the major sponsor of the Blackcaps, ANZ, will all get coffee and snacks paid for by the company's CEO to help them deal with the sleep deprivation.

The cricket World Cup final will not stop the nation like the 2011 Rugby World Cup did. The tournament has not been the main thing that people talk about over the water cooler like the America's Cup was. But it is still a significant event, and is likely to still have an impact on national productivity. Probably more than half the population will ignore it completely, but for the rest, it is an event that has, and will, disrupt sleep and capture the attention.

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Updated Date: Jul 14, 2019 10:32:38 IST

World Cup 2019 Points Table

Team p w l nr pts
India 9 7 1 1 15
Australia 9 7 2 0 14
England 9 6 3 0 12
New Zealand 9 5 3 1 11
Pakistan 9 5 3 1 11
Sri Lanka 9 3 4 2 8
South Africa 9 3 5 1 7
Bangladesh 9 3 5 1 7
West Indies 9 2 6 1 5
Afghanistan 9 0 9 0 0

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
6 Sri Lanka 3462 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 4756 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
6 New Zealand 4056 254