Year in Review 2020, Biggest Sports Stories: ICC Women’s T20 World Cup breaks viewership and attendance records
The Women's T20 World Cup 2020 was watched by more than a billion viewers all around the world, making it the second most-viewed ICC event in history.
Editor's Note: It's that time of the year already. Every end comes with an opportunity to look back and reflect, and while 2020, by general consensus, was a forgettable affair, sports did manage to conjure some moments of lasting relevance. From Liverpool ending their Premier League title wait to the mighty Indian cricket team crashing like never before in Adelaide to the passing away of some of sports' all-time greats, the field of play, even in a truncated calendar, produced a fair share of shock, surprise, and awe. In Firstpost's latest series, we take a look at some of the biggest sporting moments of 2020.
It took a long time coming for the women's game to get a stage of its own, in a sport dominated by men but it did come in February-March of 2020.
The Women's T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia lived up to its expectations, for being the second most-watched ICC event in history after the men's ODI World Cup in 2019. The figures are astonishing as the ODI World Cup is a longer tournament, is 50-overs and most importantly, was played by men.
The numbers indicated the rise of women's cricket in the last five years or so, worldwide and especially in India, after the 2017 World Cup final appearance.
We are talking numbers here because sports is driven by it, both on and off the field. Its commerce decides its fate. The market value of a sporting event drives the game. Women's cricket has suffered in the past for it did not have the brand value, even if it possessed some remarkable players, to garner eyeballs. With the advent of T20 and franchise cricket, and of course broadcasters giving more air time to such leagues, tournaments, the women's game was massively benefitted. It saw some extra-ordinary talent come together and take the world by storm.
What factors had paralysed women's cricket before, is a different debate altogether. While one cannot absolutely not pin-point the powerful cricket boards all around the world, one needs to realise how the development of the sport was attached to growth of technology, faculty and infrastructure.
The standalone T20 World Cup in Australia was, hence, a product of time as well as the effort of various stakeholders of the sport — cricket boards, players, broadcasters, cricket writers, enthusiasts. They had all put their combined faith that a women's cricket event can attract the attention of a billion watchers and the numbers justified the faith, in the end.
The first match gave the perfect start for mega event when the favourites Australians lost to Indians by 17 runs, giving more taste to the flavour of women's event, that anything was possible in a format such as T20s. The final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was also played between the two sides, which the Indians lost by a huge margin. Not to forget the almost 90,000 people had packed the historic venue for the final, watching the two best teams of the tournament take on each other.
Thailand's first participation in an ICC event, at a global stage, was an additional bonus for the World Cup. They could not register any win but their presence highlighted the long-awaited need of the game to spread its wings. But there is still a lot more needed to be done, which is reflected in the fact that was just a 10-team World Cup.
The women's World Cup was the last big cricketing event before coronavirus sent the whole world into a lockdown, and the sporting action came to a standstill. Much was expected for the women's game after such a grand-scale tournament but the virus' effect on the overall economics of the sport slowed its speed again.
Hopefully, there are better days ahead for the women's game.
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