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The ICC and the expansion of Cricket


Q1. Should the game of Cricket expand beyond its current borders?

Rohan: Yes, most certainly. As of now, the position of cricket as an International sport is indeed tenuous. Cricket could definitely do with some new countries. More popularity can only strengthen the game.

Jatin: Definitely. Although, I feel it should not be a conscious step. It should be left to the beauty of the sport or else it will have to suffer commercial burdens and therefore lose its sheen.

Manik: Popularity has never been bad for the development of any game. With more countries playing, more players learning the skills of the game and more followers, the Sport is bound to rise in its global popularity.

Q2. Should the ICC assist in the expansion of the game?

No. Harsh as it may sound, no. As of now most associate and affiliate countries have on their team sheet, expatriate players from cricket playing countries. The problem with this is that the game will not permeate into the local populace nor will the game be played by the children of these expat players.

Jatin: Again I agree. The ICC should not assist in the expansion of the game as much as it does even now. As a Cricket body which needs to handle overall development of the game, the ICC better spend its efforts on protecting the game rather than expanding its reach. It is like the UN keen on increasing the number of participating countries rather than focusing on solving the problems.

Manik: It is time for the ICC to stop forcing the expansion of the game and instead they should focus on making the game attractive enough for countries to pick it up naturally.

Q3. Will new countries add anything of value to the game?

Rohan: Yes. New countries will always add something of value to the game, provided that the game is being played at a decent enough standard. As we have seen in football and other more widely played sports, different countries have unique ways and styles of playing the game. The history of the game in those countries and also the specific rivalries will always add to the flavor of the game.

Jatin: The new countries will add value only when the country and its people select the game themselves. Else you would see a struggling minnow for decades like many we see today.

Manik: In the long term, yes. Initially it may not seem so, with the weaker teams struggling to cope with the higher standards but over time they will develop their style to suit their strengths, bringing something new in to the game.

Q4. Is the ICC doing enough for the expansion of the game?

Rohan: Yes. As of now, the ICC has been doing tremendous work behind the scenes for the expansion of the game. The ICC has conducting various Cricket League tournaments involving associate and affiliate countries from Division 2 to Division 8, throughout the year. In addition to that, the ICC has been conducting the intercontinental cup since 2003 in order to give associate countries a feel of the longer version of the game. As far as the ICC is concerned, they spent a lot of resources in spreading the game and ensuring that they get international exposure.

Jatin: Too much. Not needed. I think ICC should not have their hands so much dipped in this effort. Nobody promoted teams which currently manage to rank decent enough today. The passion is missing when the game is forced on a country. It doesn’t matter whether you do it with an anesthesia or no.

Manik: The ICC is doing plenty handholding here. With so many Divisions it ensures that the teams of similar strength play together and as they improve move to a higher Division. It provides all the support it can. However development of the game at the grassroot levels in these countries in not in the hands of the ICC and it’s the local cricketing bodies that need to pick that up.

Q5. Wouldn’t new members be an unnecessary burden on the full-members?

Rohan: Yes. Unfortunately, yes.  Cricket Expansion is currently caught in a catch-22 situation. And unfortunately it would be left to the profits and the proceeds that the full member nations provide that would support this expansion. Since Cricket is not a popular sport, these countries would not be able to finance international or even national matches themselves. Thus the full member nations will have to come to their rescue.

Jatin: Not just in the monetary terms but beyond that. India would rather have played South Africa more often instead of playing against teams like Ireland over the last couple of years. I think ICC should officially move out of the whole development initiative and hand it over to a more specialized team (who sees it more passionately and less commercially) to manage it. Yes, it is unfair to full-members and yes, ICC is to blame.

Manik: Yes, it will. In many different ways. Unlike Football, Cricket has just 10 major cricket playing nations that will have to support the developments of many more countries. It is not an ideal scenario but at this point in the development of the game, a necessity.

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