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How Much Money Does It Take to Host a Test Match?

How much money does it really take to host a Test match?

We have heard the claims that cricketing countries like New Zealand & South Africa ‘lose money’ while hosting a Test match. Well, how much money are they losing? Why are they losing so much money?

Don’t worry, I got you. Here is a research article on how much money it costs to host a Test match.

Key Takeaways

While mulling the future of cricket, MCC recently asked “how much it really costs to host a Test match?” Well, we have an answer for you.

  • A 2-Test series can cost about $679,500-$2.3 million, while a 5-Test series Ashes may incur expenses ranging from $ 3.043 million to a whopping $7.3 million.
  • Hence, on average, it takes around $350,000-$1.4 million to host a Test match. The vast range is due to the choices made by the national board – whether to have 4-cameras or 16, whether to purchase the complete version of the DRS or just the Hawkeye, number of support staff, choices for hotels and flights, etc.
  • Factors that impact the cost of hosting a Test match include (but are not limited to) technology, the review system, player match fees, umpires’ fees, post-match awards, broadcasting & commentating team, security personnel, support staff, hotels, food, flights, busses, incidentals, and facilities.

*Note: Apart from the host cricket board, some of these expenses may be shared between sponsors, broadcasters, ICC, and state/ national governments.

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How Much Money Does it take to Host a Test Match – The Top 9 Factors

It takes a village to host a Test match. This includes the players themselves, the commentators, ground staff, umpires, ball boys & girls, bus drivers, security personnel, administrators, ticket sellers, the media, and most importantly, the fans.

We take all these dimensions and come up with estimates for a 2-Test series and a 5-Test series.

We consider an Australia-England Test series for our 5-match estimates and teams like West Indies, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan for our 2-match estimates.

Note: All numbers are in $ USD. Also, some costs might be one-off cost to the host country (for example, ground covers, initial camera equipment, speed gun, stumps, cost of buying land & building the stadium, etc.). Some of these costs may be offset by the maintenance costs of the one-off items, and hence, should not impact the overall estimate range much.

*If you use any of our derivations and data, please link this article to avoid copyright issues.

1. Technology: $120,000-$2.6 Million

What Does it Include?

  • DRS (Hawkeye, Hotspot, Snicko, etc.), Cameras (4-16, SpiderCam), Stumps (Stump Mic, LED Stumps, Zing Bails), Bushnell Range Finder, and Speed Gun

Note: To cut costs, some boards may choose to only purchase Hawkeye with minimal cameras, while other nations might purchase a full set of DRS/camera setup.

How Much will a 2-match Test series cost?

  • Minimum Cost: $120,000
  • Maximum Cost: $300,000

How Much will a 5-match Test series cost?

  • Minimum Cost: $300,000
  • Maximum Cost: $2.6 Million

For the breakdown of how we derived these estimates, check out the article on cost of technology in cricket.

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2. Broadcasting & Commentators: $20,000-$1 million

What Does it Include?

This includes the salary of commentators, behind-the-scenes broadcasters.

According to various reports online, commentators can earn $1000-$5000 in match fees and around $50,000 per series. Some commentators even take home paychecks of up to a million dollars per year.

How Much will a 2-match Test series cost?

  • Minimum Cost: $20,000 ($1,000 match fee per Test for set of 10 commentators)
  • Maximum Cost: $750,000 ($50,000 series fee for set of 15 commentators)

How Much will a 5-match Test series cost?

  • Minimum Cost: $375,000 ($5,000 match fee per Test for set of 15 commentators)
  • Maximum Cost: $1 million ($50,000 series fee for set of 20 commentators)

Sky Sports signed 19 commentators for the 2023 Ashes season.

Note: The cost for technology, broadcasting, and commentators may be shared between the cricket board and broadcasting companies. This may also be negotiated in the various TV/streaming multi-year broadcasting deals.

Sources: CricTracker, Sportscriber

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3. Player Match Fees & Match Awards: $130,000-1 Million

What Does it Include?

This will only include the match fees for the players in the playing XI. We do not include yearly contracted salary for this calculation since that is a separate transaction between a player & its cricket board.

How Much will a 2-match Test series cost?

  • Minimum Cost: 126,500
  • Maximum Cost: $145,000

Calculation Method: Test Match Fees * 2 (number of Test) * 11 (number of players in the playing XI). With player of the match/series awards (plus many more nowadays), this cost will increase to $130,000-$160,000.

How Much will a 5-match Test series cost?

  • Minimum Cost: $687,500
  • Maximum Cost: $1 million

Calculation Method: Test Match Fees * 5 (number of Test) * 11 (number of players in the playing XI). If we add the award costs, this cost will increase to $700,000-$1,025,000.

Note, each board will pay each of their players separately, so we will not double count this value (i.e. we will only count the expense for the host team).

For a breakdown of how we derived the player salaries, check out the article on salary breakdown for each country in men’s cricket. For a breakdown of post-match awards, check out Virat Kohli’s net worth : A case study.

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4. Umpires: $50,000-$125,000

What Does it Include?

This includes umpires, video umpire, reserve umpire, and referee. Some online websites estimate umpires may earn around $5,000 match fees for Test cricket.

How Much will a 2-match Test series cost?

  • Average Cost: $50,000 ($5000 * 2 * 5 umpires)

How Much will a 5-match Test series cost?

  • Average Cost: $125,000 ($5000 * 5 * 5 umpires)

Source: Sportsekz

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5. Flights: $7,500-65,000

What Does it Include?

A team like West Indies may be responsible for arranging flights from island to island or countries like Australia or India, where distances between cities is more convenient by air.

For domestic travel, we assume host boards will pay for players from both teams involved.

This will total to about 45-80 members total (squad: 15 players, 5 net bowlers per team, 3-5 coaches, umpires & referees: 5-8, commentators: 10-20, miscellaneous/administrators: 1-10)

How Much will a 2-match Test series cost?

The current India-West Indies series takes place in Roseau & Port of Spain. For a 2-Test series, we consider one flight.

  • Minimum Cost: $7,605: 45 * $169
  • Maximum Cost: $64,000: 80*800

Calculation Method: A flight from Roseau, Dominica to Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago on Google Flights – $169 (Friday, August 4th – a really good deal this), $1665 (Sunday, August 6th – not the best use of your money), average prices are around $800.

Note: These estimates may vary depending if the national boards consider business or economy class and how soon they book their tickets.

How Much will a 5-match Test series cost?

We will consider the 2021 Ashes for this scenario. We check current one-way prices for Brisbane-Adelaide (around $300), Adelaide-Melbourne ($100), Melbourne-Sydney ($100), and Sydney-Hobart ($125). This totals to about $625 per member of the flight.

  • Minimum Cost: $28,125: 45*625
  • Maximum Cost: 50,000: 80*625

Surprised by these numbers? Note, that even though West Indies might not be the richest cricket board, Caribbean is still a pretty exotic place for travel.

6. Buses: $42,000-$105,000

What Does it Include?

Buses includes hiring a couple of drivers, tips for the drivers, and the cost to rent a charter bus. Each team will have a separate bus and there will also be a bus for support staff. According to Gogo Charters, it costs about £ 456-613 ($588-790) per day per charter bus, plus a 10% tip. We will estimate this around $700 per bus for a total of $2100 for three buses.

How Much will a 2-match Test series cost?

  • Average Cost: $42,000 ($2,100 * 20 days)

How Much will a 5-match Test series cost?

  • Average Cost: $105,000 ($2,100 * 50 days)
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7. Hotels, Food, & Incidentals: $200,000-$2 million

What Does it Include?

According to the U.S. Department of State Foreign Per Diem Rates, “The maximum lodging amount is intended to substantially cover the cost of lodging at adequate, suitable and moderately-priced facilities. The M&IE portion is intended to substantially cover the cost of meals and incidental travel expenses such as laundry and dry cleaning.”

Cannot forget the dry cleaning and the laundry. Nobody wants stinky, smelly, and rainy tours.

For a reference, Adelaide’s Maximum Per Diem rate based on (1) Maximum Lodging Rate, (2) Meals & Incidentals is $324. Here is the estimate list for other Australian cities.

How Much will a 2-match Test series cost?

A two-Test series has a maximum of 10 days. However, we can consider one tour match, a couple days between each game, and a couple of days before/after the series for a total of 20 days.

The current Sri Lanka-Pakistan series is an 18-day affair for example. We will consider Galle’s per diem rate of $216 as an average (although it varies from city to city).

  • Minimum Cost: $194,400 (45 *$216*20)
  • Maximum Cost: $777,600 (80*216*20)

How Much will a 5-match Test series cost?

The 2023 Ashes takes place between June 16th and July 13th, totallng 45 days (without any tour matches). To keep it simple, we will take 50 days and the $526 per diem estimate for London.

  • Minimum Cost: $1,183,500 (45*526*50)
  • Maximum Cost: $2,104,000 (80*526*50)
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8. Security & Support Staff: $100,000-400,000

What Does it Include?

This may include security guards, pitch curators, groundsperson, cleaners, stadium food organizers, support staff, pavilion steward’s, etc.

According to Glassdoor, a security guard in London earns annually £ 24,070 ($31,028 USD), a security officer earns about £ 26,383 ($34,000), and an assistant groundsperson earns about £ 22,000 ($ 28,000). The director of security and people in higher positions may earn £ 50,000-100,000 ($65,000-100,000).

We estimate around 50-100 support staff & security personnel are needed to make a Test match happen. We will take £ 20,000 ($26,000) as an average. We will estimate 1-month salary (1/12) for the 2-Test series & 2-month salary (1/6) for 5-Test series.

How Much will a 2-match Test series cost?

  • Minimum Cost: $108,350 ($2,167 *50)
  • Maximum Cost: $216,700 ($2,167*100)

How Much will a 5-match Test series cost?

  • Minimum Cost: $216,666.5 ($4133.33 * 50)
  • Maximum Cost: $413,333 ($4,133.33 * 100)
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9. Facilities: $10,000-$20,000

What Does it Include?

  • Ground Covers: $3,000-4,000
  • Warm-Up Kookaburra balls: $7,500 (50 balls about $150 each)
  • Other/Miscellaneous Costs: $1,000-$10,000
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Case Studies & Quotes: Cost of Hosting a Test Match

Our estimates match with the interviews and situations that we have already seen. Here is the result of rising cost of hosting a Test match and the uneven monopoly of the Big 3 in world cricket today.

Situation 1: The COVID Comeback Season

The pandemic caused England to go to great measures to restart cricket.

For the West Indies and Pakistan series, they paid these countries £ 500,000 ($644,628) for charter flights. In addition, the per day cost was £ 238,000 ($306,842), while the season cost was 10 million pounds. One quote caught my eye.

“The good thing is they are England, and they expected to receive 120 Million pounds in ‘broadcast revenue.'”

Situation 2: Cricket Ireland Cancels Test Series

Ireland cancelled their plan of playing a Test match against Bangladesh and played a T20I instead.

“With the expected cost of hosting a Test estimated at 1 million pounds ($US 1.14 million), Cricket Ireland has chosen to prioritise white ball cricket ahead of the T20 World Cups.”

ESPN Cricinfo

Situation 3: Headingley Skips Ashes Test

“The Yorkshire chairman and chief executive, Colin Graves, had said the county would not bid to host an Ashes Test in 2013 or 2015 because, at a cost of £ 1-2 million, ‘it would represent too great a financial risk.’ ‘

– The Guardian

Situation 4: South Africa’s Problems Continue

South Africa will not be playing many Tests in the next FTP. They have, however, hosted a successful SA T20, which gives them hope fo a financial revival.

“CSA earns a tenth of the money on a Test that it will earn for a white ball match.”

– Firdose Moonda

Situation 5: Afghanistan vs West Indies match ends within 3 Days, Costs Money Nevertheless

“Take the Afghanistan v West Indies game in Lucknow. It finished in two and a half days, but all the people working on it have been booked for the five days. The grounds, the staff, the food, everything…it’s probably cost them US $200,000 to $300,000. Perhaps more. And if your yearly grant is to the tune of $ 4 million, that means you have spent close to 10% of your [yearly] budget on playing one Test match.”

– Alistair Campbell, interview

Situation 6: Hosts Nations Lose Money Hosting Tests

“For home boards, most Tests make a net loss of US $500,000.”

The Guardian

Situation 7: Zimbabwe vs West Indies 2017

According to ESPN Cricinfo, it cost the Zimbabwe cricket board $1 million to host a two-Test series against the West Indies.

“We do lost a lot of money – about $300,000-$400,000, to host a Test series. It’s money we don’t have.”

– Tavenga Mukuhlani, ZC Chairman

Situation 8: Playing Against India & the Big 3 the Only Hope (which is not sustainable)

“Unless it is against the Big 3, Cricket New Zealand loses about $700,000.”

– The Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald

So, why do New Zealand, South Africa, & other countries lose money while hosting a Test series?

Expenses are only one part of the puzzle. Revenue is the other.

While the Big 3 has broadcasting profits on their sides, countries like Zimbabwe get as little as $1 million per season from sponsorship. A 2-Test series wipes out 20% of the annual reserves, and hence, they cannot afford to host Test matches.

The income, ticket sales, & sponsorship are not large income to balance the expenses of hosting a Test match.

Although New Zealand are a joy to watch in Test cricket and were also the winner of the inaugural WTC Final, they suffer from a similar economic fate.

What does the Future of Test Cricket Hold?

Revenue in cricket comes from (1) ticket sales, (2) broadcasting deals, (3) sponsorship deals, (4) ICC money, and (5) federal/state funding (depending on the country). While India is always on the net positive side due to their sheer volume of cricket fans, other countries unfortunately do not have similar infrastructure or fan following. Subsidizing Test cricket a part of a larger ICC Test fund has been suggested in the past, but is it enough?

Can Test cricket survive the rising costs? More importantly, will the ‘Middle 5’ – West Indies, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka continue their investment in Test cricket?

Test cricket is actually thriving these days (See, Bazball), but the business model of Test cricket is dying.

Something needs to change quickly.

Otherwise, Test cricket started with the Ashes. It may also end in ashes.

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Frequently Asked Questions – How Much Money Does it take to Host a Test Match

How much money does it take to host a Test match?

It takes around $350,000-$1.4 million to host a Test match.

Why does New Zealand only play a 2-Test series?

New Zealand only plays a 2-Test series so they do not incur too many losses financially.

Why does South Africa lose money while hosting Test matches?

South Africa loses money while hosting Test matches because it costs about a million dollars to host a Test, while the revenues are not as high.

Is Test cricket dying?

Test cricket itself is thriving, but the financial death of Test cricket is imminent. The business model of Test cricket needs to change.

Source: ESPNCricinfo Report

Sources: The MCC Wants to Know How Much it Costs to Host a Test Match, The Daily Mail, Ireland Cancel Home Test, Sydney Morning Herald

© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, LLC 2023. Originally published on 07/25/2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).