Home > Cricket Development > Opinion: ICCs basic flaws in global expansion

Opinion: ICCs basic flaws in global expansion

There are, in my opinion, at least 4 basic flaws in ICCs current approach to the development of the game in other countries. We tend to think that perhaps cricket is an extremely difficult sport and that it takes 2-3 generations for players to come up to a certain competitive standard. This is slightly true, but I think the fault lies elsewhere.

I will try to highlight the points below. If others have an opinion on these, or would like to mention their own points, it will be great.

1) Deemed Nationals and Nationals
Why is it that a person residing for 183 days per year for 4 years is a deemed national?? People living in UAE for 30 years have not been given a nationality, while a regular work permit in the USA is for 6 years. This means that a temporary worker in the US, who comes from South Asia, can actually represent the US in cricket matches in the last 2 years of his temporary stay !?!?! This is just weird. Secondly, a person who has been residing in a country for 7 years becomes a national in ICCs eyes, and the associate team can have as many of these as they want in their squad.

I dont think I need to go into the details for this. But the ICC needs to do 2 things. First, change the definition of a deemed national to one who has resided in the country for 7 years, at least 9 months out of 12 per year. Allow only 2 deemed nationals per team. And apart from that, the only people allowed to play for that country should be citizens.

2) Lack of TV policy
ICC needs to realize that they need to get the partiticipation levels up in top associates to at least 50-100K people. They cant be stuck at the single digit thousand that they are stuck at right now. One way it to wait for a 100 years, let them go from 5K-6K one year, then 7K the next year and so on. But that way they will also lose players who are interested faster than they get the new ones in. The only way to get hige numbers interested quickly is to give a free feed from live cricket matches to the top associates, or to countries which are not considered potential markets (Japan, Argentina, italy etc.). This is the era of cable and sattelite television, not broadcast any more. It costs zilch for a cable or sattelite provider to dedicate a channel to cricket, especially if he is getting the feed for free. Give it to the top associates on an experimental basis for 4-5 years, and then see what happens. ICC can even start selling the TV rights to those countries afterwards for some money if that is the case. Why do you think there is so much interest and so much high playing numbers in South Asian countries like Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives and Bhutan? It is precisely becasue there are 3 channels dedicated to cricket that they get for free due to being in the South Asian region.

3) Serious Lack of Benchmarking tournaments
So how does Scotland rank with Zim or Bangladesh? How good actually is Afghanistan compared to Bermuda or Canada? Nepal lost out to Namibia, but Bermuda also lost out to Namibia recently so how far back is Nepal from Bermuda? If at all? Uganda has improved quite a lot since their ICC Trophy debacle, but many say that was because the players could not adjust to the weather in Ireland coming from hot African summer. Is Bermuda also going to outplay Uganda IN Uganda NOW? All of these questions are just questions, and the ICC doesnt even know the answers to them itself. While the WCQS is a good structure to get everyone involved for World Cup qualification, why are other benchmarking tournaments not held to find out the truth of the standards in the current year? Why isnt a ranking system developed to incorporate all the international games played irrespective of whether they are ODI or not? ICC needs to hold the benchmarking tournaments on a regular basis to find out which country to invest in, and in what area. It cannot just wait for 4 years to dole out the money to the top 6 from the ICC Trophy (though the fact that they are doing even that is much better than before)

4) Tying development funds to performance ONLY
FIFA can be objective because it is FIFA, and there are 100 countries in the world where football is a passion, and at least 30 that can make it to the quarter final of the world cup. Even from the current FIFA world cup 2006 good teams like Nigeria, Uruguay, Cameroon, Turkey, Denmark and Greece are sitting out. ICC is not FIFA, and it should not try to be either. Some common sense it needed when they dole out development money and it should not be winner takes all for the ICC trophy alone. Countries like PNG, Nepal, Uganda, Malaysia could not achieve anything in the ICC trophy, or did not qualify at all. Yet these are the countries that have an actual chance of doing anything given a bit of support. Not USA that fielded the oldest team to ever play an ODI. Money dished out in these countries would actually help them in raising their standard more because at least there is some spark which is shown that can be capitalized on. With countries like USA and UAE, you dont even know where to start off with. The real problem is that if these countries are not supported now that they are showing interest and doing something about cricket, they will probably lose interest and start playing something else.

Categories: Cricket Development
  1. June 30, 2006 at 2:46 am

    Dear Nasir!
    As for Japan as an example, the ICC are not really checking on what is being done and who does it at the children level, that is at the real roots. They are keen to post all articles on their homepages, but they do not send anyone to conduct a real check. Help is limited to this media support and caps and freebies when asked for. What I would like to see is the ICC come down and check as soon as they hear someone is actually doing work at the roots level, order the Cricket Body of that particular country to help with money and equipment directly provided by the ICC, instead of giving a certain amount of money with vague directives. Furthermore, when a Cricket Body of a certain country announces they are initiating Youth Cricket Programmes, the ICC should investigate themselves and not take everything at face value.

  2. June 30, 2006 at 8:17 am

    Getting cricket played in schools and getting a structure so that kids can move on to play for clubs after school is key. If they cut the bloody grass on the fields it would help. Here in Montreal, it’s ankle-high. How is a thirteen-year-old going to hit the ball off the square against adults?

    Often money isn’t the answer. You can pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into a country, and those running it will find a way to siphon off a large percentage. You give them kit for kids, and they’ll keep it for themselves. They have no interest in seeing a new generation of cricketers. They are only concerned about their own averages.

    For development in upcoming cricketing countries, dedicated, honest people are needed, with a marketing nouse. They’ve got to go around and convince people to play. Take the wonderful example of Slovakia. One Slovak, with a budget of 100 euros a year, has made cricket the number one sport in his rural area. National team players now qualify for university because of their cricket caps. They take tours to three countries. More than 150 supporters turn out to watch their national cricket day, including three ambassadors. And all this started from a man carving some sticks from the woods as stumps.

    Now, you compare that to a long-established club in Scotland. Playing numbers dwindle every year. They struggle to raise tens of thousands of pounds, and then blow it all on their overseas player. The money goes out the country, and none of it is invested in the future. Having an overseas player often does little to develop players’ skills. It simply creates an imbalance in games. How often do we see ten players amassing a total of 20 runs, only to win the game becuase the pro scored a hundred?

    Now, imagine if they spent that money on building a net in a nearby school, and showing some teachers how to run games.

    I hear cries for more money all the time. It’s not about money. It’s about getting the right people with the right attitude in place.

  3. Ram
    June 30, 2006 at 10:10 am

    Nasir…I can’t agree more with what you’ve said!

    Reading the first part of the outgoing ICC President’s interview to Cricinfo gave me a few insights into the the way the ICC looked at the game’s expansion…It’s good that the ICC has realized that fast-tracking Associates into Test teams is not the right approach given that we already have two ‘weak’ teams in Test cricket and that Test cricket cannot be degraded…

    It seems that the ICC are now too cautious about the performance of the Associate countries and are NOT willing to judge these Associates based on their ODI performances..it’s clear from that interview that UNLESS these Associates start defeating the A teams of Test nations in the longer version, they’ll NOT get anywhere near Test status!

    Another point that’s worth noting is that the ICC doesn’t seem to think of Kenya or Scotland as the next Test team in the World given that they’ve pledged $1 million to each of the 6 teams qualifying for WC 2011 rather than allocating them to these Associates in a bid to fast track them to Test status!

    However, as you say, the ICC’s warped way of overlooking this expansion program means that a Bermuda or a USA or a Canada will continue to get more importance than a Uganda, Japan or Argentina, which is a pity given the potential of these countries..The ICC’s logic behind supporting Canada and USA even though they’re primarily made of expats is that even in Test countries, cricket started from British expats! Not sure if this’s right though…

  4. June 30, 2006 at 10:20 am

    Ehsan Mani also said that he would have ‘loved to see the USA playing in the 2007 WC’. This is foolish. Why would he have loved for the US team, made up of past first class players who have now become 35+ playing in the world cup, being thrashed and then not being able to do anything about it either, becuase its not like giving them experience means anything. Plus why would he have loved for the US team to be in the world cup when nobody, not even the expats in US, couldnt care less about USA cricket?

    I think there is definitely some angle that we are missing here. The ICC cannot be that stupid. They are obsessed with expat teams despite the fact that they have remained only ‘costs’ for 30 years. USA fielded an expat based team in the 1979 ICC trophy. They are still doing that. ICC needs to think of why that is happenning whereas in the West Indies, the locals started making the team in 10 years time.

  5. Ram
    June 30, 2006 at 10:31 am

    Yes, about the USA thing, I think the ICC has got it really wrong!..It thinks that just because USA is potentially a huge market for India-Pakistan or India-WI games, it believes USA can make it big on the field!…If at all, the ICC should’ve looked at hosting a couple of World Cup 2007 games in 1 or 2 US venues, which would’ve brought in the expat population living there and probably additional revenue than what they wud do now..But since the USA still doesn’t have any ODI grounds, maybe it can look to host a few games at the 2010 Champions trophy…this is the best US can do to contribute to the game, atleast in short term!

  6. June 30, 2006 at 10:51 am

    Ram, here is the thing.

    USAs ‘potential’ is only theoratical. But the same theoratical concept also applies to Japan, Italy, Germany…. even to Canada. The best bet at the momment are Netherlands and Denamrk, which are huge economies, much bigger than Pakistan or South Africa.

    So despite all that, why the ICC is STILL more concerned about getting the USA on board is strange. One has to read the american newspapers these days about how Soccer is still not a mainstream sport in US. This is despite about 20 million americans interested in the game, despite the last 2 WC being shown live on TV (on broadcast this time), and despite having a major legue for soccer. So cricket, even if it is developed properly in the US, is going to take 40 years before there is any chance of it getting a lot of exposure here. That by itself SHOULD be done for the long term developemnt, but unnecessarily commenting about giving US more exposure is funny. ICC thinks that if the US was suddenly playing ODI, all of america would be glued in to watch. This is is dumbness personified. I can tell from personal experience that at least 20 people that I know who are registered cricketers in the US, 20 of the 14K number that ICC frequently touts, had a) no idea that US was playing in champions trophy 2004 b) had no idea who is in the US team and c) had no interest in watching the USA matches, despite that they all stayed up all night to watch the India-Pakistan game. The US U19 team did pretty well in the U19 WC 2006, but there was not even a line in any newspaper, not even on any website. Not even a mention on ESPN.

    Ehsan Mani did tell the UAE officials that they need to get more Arabs to play the game over there. But when it comes to USA, suddenly he forgets all that and suddenly becomes obsessed with just getting the US into tournaments, whatever the composition of the team, or domestic play may be. If he really wants US standard raised with expats, then after his ICC stint I think he sould become an immigration attorney and help A team players from South Asia to get H1 work visa to the US for 6 years. In the last 2 of those years, the A team players can represent USA, and it will be a competitive team. Would that make Mani happy?

  7. Ram
    June 30, 2006 at 11:12 am


    What you say about US cricket is indeed true!…Even the soccer World Cup is struggling for attention when the entire World including India, Pakistan etc. are all crazily following it!…Even among the expats, I clearly don’t see an expansionary view to playing cricket; it’s just meant to be a social event for the expats to get together and enjoy an evening or two out..

    While local community newspapers, on request, cover and report on cricketing activities mostly during summer, going through those articles would give a clear indication that there’s a clear lack of understanding or even the will to understand the game among the indigenous people!..It’s kind of weird that while a local football game brings in 110,000 people to the stadium, not even 11 people know that there’s a cricket game on!!

  8. June 30, 2006 at 1:40 pm


    Whether it is about money or not depends upon which country you are talking about. For Zimbabwe and UAE, it is not about money. For Kenya it is not about money either I think, they have the money and given that it is a very poor country by average household income, even the $500K amount should have been able to take them places. For Scotland, Ireland and Holland, it IS about money. They have the right people and good structures in place, just need money to contract players, organize tours, market the game and perform spread activities in children etc. Need money for that, unless you are talking about 30-40 kids per year.

  9. Ram
    June 30, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Continuing on the issue of global expansion, it’s rather disappointing that only ONE country, Myanmar will be joining the ICC ranks this year..Given that all that is needed to join the ICC is to have some expats playing cricket and a Govt-recognized board supervising the game, the ICC is yet to reach the 100 mark though the Development program is 9 years old! The ICC seems to be lagging by atleast 2 years in its goal to reach the 100 mark by 2005.

    Another cause for concern is that there are many countries with significant populations and economies like Russia, Taiwan, North Korea, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Venezuela, Ukraine, Iraq, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Hungary etc. which are yet to even join the ICC. On the other hand, you have Bermuda, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Guernsey, Turks & Caicos Is, Cayman Is, Jersey, Fiji etc. being projected as the frontiers of the game’s development…I do feel that it’s even worth spending on those countries yet to join the ICC rather than on those tiny islands who are clearly NOT going to contribute to the game’s development in any way. The ICC has to realize that even if it takes decades for a Russia or Taiwan to produce a team of Kenya’s or Denmark’s standards, that would still be better than a Cook Is. or Bermuda going on to win a World Cup!

  10. June 30, 2006 at 2:46 pm

    Ram, 2 things.

    1) If Bermuda is good enough to win the world cup, which I doubt it ever will be though it is theoratically possibile with their population size (always look at Antigua in the late 80s), then they should be given the oppurtunity and should be treated like a world cup qualifier. Thats what the ICC is doing, and I think they realized their goof up in the pooling from ICC Trophy 2005, hence they are going to rank the teams in the ICC Trophy 2009 based on WCQS Div I.

    2) Secondly, Fiji is not the same population category as the other Islands you have mentioed. Fiji has about 870K people, will probably be a million in 10 years. Fiji is probably bigger than Qatar and Bahrain !!

    But I agree that tiny tiny countries are good neither for the expansion of the game, nor the business of cricket.

  11. Ram
    June 30, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    Nasir..Though I know that Fiji has many more people than any of those islands, I’m not sure if it can make a meaningful contribution to the game’s expansion, both in financial as well as cricketing terms!..Fiji may be better off than any of those islands, but the question is: can it contribute meaningfully to the game’s expansion and finances as a Test nation, which is the ultimate objective?

  12. June 30, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    Test Nation !?!?!

    I think we are getting carried away here.

    There is no way that ICC will ever give Test status to any one of these tiny countries. ICC needs to have, in my opinion, at least 5 venues of 20-30K each filled out for the matches before it considers the team to be capable of Test Status.

    Test Status may not be the ultimate objective of many of the countries that play cricket.

    And in any case, tiny countries being touted as the forebearers of a development program for a global sport only show how much the development program is NOT working. And many of them are going to become liabilities on the Test Nations to fund because their own economies are very small to sustain a cricket calender.

  13. Ram
    June 30, 2006 at 3:27 pm


    By Test status, what I meant was even if these countries were to get Test status and get on par with the other Test teams, however decades down the line that may be, they’ll still NOT contribute to the game’s expansion or finances in any real way, simply because of their insignificant economies!

    About your statement that Test cricket may not be the ultimate objective, do you imply that the ICC would refuse to grant Test status to these countries down the line just because of their small populations?…If yes, then I perfectly agree because such small countries cannot sustain themselves as a Test nation!…Depending on geographical and population considerations, either they can be joined with their region’s Test team or can all be combined into one Test nation, just like WI. However successful these teams become, they clearly cannot be granted Test status simply because of their tiny population.

  14. June 30, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    I am not sure about that Ram. Will have to look up ICC regulations on that. But I cannot foresee Bermuda getting Test Status no matter how good they are. They will not be able to sustain the status, nor make it economically viable, unless their govt keeps on giving $11 million every 4 years to the board, which I seriously doubt.

    It was precisely because of that reason, that I initially thought that Bermuda should have been added to WI instead of a seperate team. But, I realized this much later, that Bermuda does not consider itself to be part of Caribbean that much, and neither does the Caribbean. So what may have happenned was that even the supporters who would come up to back the national team in Bermuda would lose interest due to not being able to identify with West Indies.

    9-10 ODI games held in Bermuda in a year, all sell out to a crowd of 5K for $20 per ticket, should see Bermuda make around $900K-$ 1mil a year. That, I think will be the maximum that their economy can contribute. The rest is that if they become a solid team, they will be able to sell TV rights for a lot of money and get rich that way. But as far as ‘adding’ anything to the exchequer of the other boards or the ICC is concerned, I dont see them doing anything.

  15. June 30, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    Actually Ram, surprisingly, Ehsan Mani was talking about this today in his interview to Cricinfo. Ehsan Mani tends to give very balaced and sensible statements, but somehow manages to lose all foresight when it comes to USA.

    He talks about that if Bermuda beat A teams from Test countries regularly, then they WILL be given test status.


    This is a good article to read anyway.

  16. Ram
    June 30, 2006 at 5:48 pm


    I have a question here: If Bermuda with a population of 67,000 is given Test status, don’t you think there is a possibility that the Caribbean countries like Jamaica, T & T, Barbados, Guyana etc. having much larger populations feel hard done by and revolt for separate Test/ODI status for each one of them?

  17. July 1, 2006 at 12:57 am

    I dont know. But Ehsan Mani clearly indicated that if Bermuda was good enough in the multi day game, they WOULD get test status, there would be no question of them being a very small country.

  18. Cuen Lucas
    July 1, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    Good call on the T.V. policy idea, Nasir, in Cricketeurope’s “playerlines” articles T.V. coverage was one of the two most common ideas to popularise cricket in associate countries. (the other being the full implementation of cricket in schools). However, I’m not too sure about the ICC having much control over the distribution and broadcast of televised game, I think it’s more how the production companies deal with each other, and although the ICC can negotiate, the result could vary.
    If my knowledge is correct, South Africa’s “Supersport” group of soprts channels do occasionally broadcast cricket to places like Namibia, Kenya and possibly Uganda as well, I’m not sure just how much gets through, but there is some.

    I fully agree with the idea of “nationals” and “deemed nationals” being scrapped, it’s simply far too easy to exploit those rules, and doesn’t really help all that much with the development of the game.

  19. Bruce Gaskell
    July 1, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    Nasir, thanks for this blog, going off on a slight tangent I think that the ICC strategy for associates should split then into three groups and give out funding/support accordingly.

    Group 1
    Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, Bermuda.
    Small player bases but by and large well run leagues, stable administration, and national teams that punch above their weight.

    Cricketing potential: Medium. None of these nations will ever be power houses, and cricket will always be a minor sport. If they continue their modest improvement however they will be more than just cannon fodder at a world cup.

    Group 2
    USA, Canada, UAE
    Almost entirely expat based, chaotic adminstration, national teams have never impressed.

    Cricketing potential: None to speak of at the moment. Cricket may continue to grow in these nations due to immigration, but you get the feeling that would happen with or without the ICC.

    Group 3
    Afghanistan, Nepal
    Already have a large player base, and to some extent a passion for the game. Very little infrastructure. On the few occasions national/age group teams are given a chance to compete they have impressed.

    Cricketing potential: Huge. If either country were politically stable, or, dare I say it, Western, they could be a Test team in 5 years. As it is lets hope they’re playing ODI’s sooner rather than later.

    Obviously my thoughts are that Group 3 should be highest on the priority list, given that they both need help AND have huge potential, followed by 1 and then 2.

  20. July 1, 2006 at 8:20 pm

    Bruce, where would you place countrys like Uganda, Denmark, Namibia. And you missed mentioning Kenya completely.

  21. Ram
    July 1, 2006 at 8:33 pm


    Anywhere except Group 2, which is cricket’s group of death!..In my view, while Denmark and Namibia come under Group 1, Kenya and Uganda can come under Group 3 though I doubt if Kenya can really can based on their progress over the last 5-6 years! I would also like to believe that countries like Argentina, Italy and Japan with substantially huge economies can come under group 3..

  22. July 1, 2006 at 9:08 pm

    No, Italy, Japan and Argentina cannot come under group 3. Bruce is defining group 3 as one which has the passion and huge playing numbers, but zero infrastructure or oppurtunity. Plus it has a high standard whenever they do get the oppurtuntiy.

    In fact, Italy, Japan and Argentina cant come under any group at the momment. This should be a seperate group. Countries with large economies, indegenous participation, lower standard etc. Its basically what the ICC wants the USA to be, but it isnt.

  23. Ram
    July 1, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    yes, I agree but isn’t that grouping based on potential??..On that basis, these countries can make the ladder PROVIDED the ICC is sharp enough to realize this!..I guess Greece (Hellas) would also come under this category.

  24. Bruce Gaskell
    July 2, 2006 at 10:26 am

    I would put Denmark and Namibia in group 1.

    Kenya I would put in group 3. While Kenya doesnt have the potential fan/player base of the other two, on the field it is more advanced at the moment. I would guess that they suffer from similiar problems, and need similiar solutions, eg. more fixtures, more money for youth cricket, the chance of professional contracts.

    With regard to other countries I was only thinking of nations that had a realistic chance of full ODI/Test status in the next 20 years or so.

    Obviously not every country fits neatly into one of my groups. What I’m really getting at I suppose is that the ICC should think in terms of LONG TERM potential when it comes to organising fixtures and funding.

    For example if the ICC were to give an extra $1million to Holland, send 12 pro coaches over there, and organise half a dozen county contracts for the best Dutch players, Dutch cricket would probably improve modestly and the Cricket world could pat themselves on the back when Holland only lose to New Zealnd by 20 runs in the world cup.

    Do the same in Afghanistan or Nepal however, and while you may be taking more of a risk, and not getting a return on your investment as quickly, in a generation you might have a side capable of winning a world cup.

  25. Ram
    July 2, 2006 at 2:15 pm


    As you rightly pointed out, countries like Scotland and Netherlands are only going to improve modestly (and slowly) irrespective of financial aid because of their smaller player base and limited fan base while an Afghanistan or Nepal may produce a World-class team in a decade’s time if given the appropriate funding..

    I agree with your point about ICC identifying those countries with huge potential in the longer run but currently of lower standards and back them rather than back countries based on cricketing standards alone, which is why I feel the ICC should look to focus on Japan, Argentina, Greece and Italy instead of Bermuda, Canada, USA or UAE!

  26. July 2, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    Why are we assuming that Netherlands or Scotland are going to ALWAYS remain countries with small player base? And why are we assuming that you need 20 million people crazy about cricket to produce a world class team? New Zealand is a world class team, not a world beater, but no pushover either. They have a total playing number of what? 100K people for cricket? I am not sure but I am guessing….. cricket is not the top sport in New Zealand, and the country has only 600K men between the ages of 15 and 35.

    Secondly, Netherlands is crazy about Football, but its also the number 1 team in Field Hockey. Have been world champions and olympic champions and God knows what not. I dont think that Netherlands is crazy about Field Hockey, nor has a huge player base, because hardly 5K people show up to watch the Champions trophy hockey matches over there. Cricket would be fine if about 50K-100K people in Netherlands are interested in playing and following it.

  27. Ram
    July 2, 2006 at 2:42 pm


    The point is while Scotland or Netherlands can become another New Zealand, Afghanistan or Nepal can become another Bangladesh or even Srilanka..It is not about degrading Scotland or Netherlands as a cricketing nation but in identifying Afghanistan or Nepal who have bigger potential but unfortunately do not get the due recognition.

  28. July 2, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    Nepal is fine, I disagree with Bruce that there is a political instability over there and its a risk. This much of political instability does not really bother South Asian countries, and should not hamper cricket development over there.

    Afghanistan is a totally different case. They are a much better team than Nepal I think, provided they get the same facilities, however minor or small, that Nepal has. But the problem is one of security, and a total lack of any idea where that country is going to be at in 5 years 10 years. Nobody knows. They can even get people back into power who ban playing cricket altogether, so its a much bigger risk than Nepal.

    Also, Afghanistan is going to give zero value to one of the ICCs agendas i.e. the business of cricket. A country like Bermuda may be better than Afghanistan as far as the business of cricket is concerned.

    And Bruce, I dont know how much the ICC can assist in people getting county contracts. The one thing that matters the most in that regard is the county to PLAY the national team and see the players. Zimbabwe players used to get county contracts like this, because the counties used to tour Zimbabwe to warm up. Nepal is in a good position to do that, they can host a county to come and play their national team in Nepal and warm up in Feb-March. Their players will get the exposure to the county that way.

    But yes, Afghanistan HAS the potential. And they have it NOW. Its not a matter of lets do this and that and THEN they will be good. They are good now.

  29. Bruce Gaskell
    July 2, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    Actually I think you’re right about Nepal Nasir, after all Sri Lanka became world beaters during a period of great political instability.

    As for Scotland and the Netherlands, well call me pessimistic, but I know both countries well and I can’t see it taking off. Your comparisom with New Zealand is instructive, but Cricket there is an establied part of the culture due to close ties with England and Australia, and the professional sport of choice for those who don’t play rugby. You could say this should be the case in Scotland, but (without wanting to lower the tone of the debate too much!) a lot of Scots are turned off Cricket because it is perceived as such an ‘English’ game. That said the seemingly terminal decline of the Scottish Football and Rugby teams could benefit Cricket up there, and there certainly is a fan base of sorts.

    The Netherlands is differant, media coverage there is very poor, but a small group have taken to Cricket in part because of its English connections.

    Ram, The smaller cricketing nations you mention should certainly get funding/fixtures if they are well managed. But let’s remember their player bases are a fraction of those in Nepal and Afghanistan, and we shouldn’t get our hopes up too much.

  30. sandeep
    July 2, 2006 at 4:07 pm


    i wont keep scotland in your group A .there is too much potential in scotland than any other associate country at the moment .
    cricket is scotland fastest growing sport and second most popular team sport behind football in participation

    this article will suprise you

    if you look at popularity of cricket in scotland ireland and netherlands
    in scotland cricket is next to football and rugby
    where as in ireland and netherlands cricket is no where in top 5 of popular sports

    about 1000 scottish fans are expected to attend next years world cup each paying 4000 pounds for the trip surely the enthusiasm for the game is there and its growing

  31. July 2, 2006 at 4:12 pm

    I think all the countries have a player base that will be a fraction of Nepal and Afghanistan. This is precisely the reason why Nepal and Afghanistan are even in top reckoning despite having nothing at all regarding fixtures, infrastructure or anything.

    Bruce, I think all developed countries would take to cricket as a segment sport. This means that they would be playing cricket like other sports, but cricket will not be able to take over as the passion. But who knows, if the team becomes a good one, and the games are telecast live, they may start developing a lot of interest. Lets say that even as a minority sport, cricket takes 1 million people who follow it in Netherlands. That would be 6% of Netherlands, but I think overall it would be really good for the ICC, because Netherlands is a very rich country, and it would be good for their players as well, because they will have more than enough support to sustain their professional contracts with the national team.

    Regarding countries thinking of cricket as being an English sport and staying away from it, well, that was also a problem with Ireland. But Soccer is an English sport too, and thats a passion in a lot of countries who are against colonial sports otherwise. So I think thats a matter of perception, and once countries start seeing that cricket is more a South Asian sport today than English, and also beat England a few times, this problem should be solved.

  32. sandeep
    July 2, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    only scots and irish have problems about the image of cricket as english sport
    As mike denness points out in the article” Scots are finally seeing the game for what it is, and not the threadbare stereotype”

    however unfortunately irish still dont feel the same about cricket as scots as there is too much ill feeling towards english

  33. July 2, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    Interesting stat – A higher percentage of Scots watched the Ashes last year as compared to English!

    No interest in Scotland?

  34. July 2, 2006 at 10:53 pm


    Regarding putting Namibia in group 1.

    Does anyone know if they are taking the game to the black population of their country? I mean, do they have black players in their junior teams? From what it looked like in the U19 WC this year, its still a ‘white sport’.

    In fact, I had an entry somwhere on this blog comparing Namibia and Zimbabwe.

    If they have black kids coming through, then I would put them in group 1, otherwise, they would also be a risky situation

  35. Bruce Gaskell
    July 3, 2006 at 9:24 am

    That really is bizarre about the viewing figures for the Ashes in Scotland. I didn’t even know they had live coverage to be honest. Perhaps I, and seemingly everyone else, including the Scottish establishment, underestimated the Scots enthusiasm for Cricket.

    Hopefully added interest will translate to success on the field and more homegrown Cricketers, at the moment Scotland (and Ireland) are a little too dependant on Aussies/South Africans with a Celtic parent. In this regard The Netherlands are commendable, they are by and large a home grown team that has learnt their Cricket in The Netherlands.

    Nasir, I’m afraid I’m probably no more knowledgeable on Namibia than anyone else here, but I would guess there are very few blacks playing from the Scorecards I’ve seen.

  36. July 3, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    I would like to make a theory about Cricket on TV.

    The thing is, that if Cricket is free on air, and there is a lot of cricket, just like in South Asia where there is some cricket match on TV every second day being covered live, people tend to watch it suiting themselves. If its 8 hours, they will watch the first hour, then go about their normal business, and come back to watch the last 2 hours. Or, and this is done by many people, only watch the second innings, which effectively leaves them with only 3.5 hours to watch.

    But when you make the same thing Pay per View, then the person tends to stay glued to the TV set, because he has paid money for it. He will then start evaluating whether it is worth buying or not, because he has to sit up and watch it. I know a number of people (South Asians in the US) who have stopped purchaing pay per view, because of the price, timing, and the fact that then they need to watch 8 hours of it every day. However, if the game was free on air, and the guy was himself not doing anything else, and was somehow up at a late time on that night, he may have seen a portion of the game.

    You are likely to win over more supporters for Cricket through free cricket on air, and if all cricket is shown, giving a continuous stream to follow.

    Now regarding whether the ICC can do something about it or not. If it is part of ICC ruling that cricket rights cannot be sold to certain countries, currently that would be 6, and that those countries cannot go ahead and put the cricket up on par per view, then the boards will have to incorporate that into their bidding. I think it is quite possible, the only thing is if the ICC or the other boards are willing to do this, esp India that would not like to give free rights to Canada.

  37. Ram
    July 3, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    Now, I found something interesting about Croatian cricket…A look at their national team that took part in the “ECC Notts Sport Affiliates Championship 2005” seems to indicate that more than 75% of their national team is made of indigenous players, not bad for a nation that joined the ICC only in 2001!


    A look at the nine teams that participated in that tournament reveals that, apart from Hellas, Croatia is the only other nation with a predominantly indigenous team!..A 7th place finish in that tournament ahead of Isle of Man and Finland will see them participate in Div. 3 of the European Championship. Given that they were drawn in a group where the other two teams eventually finshed toppers and 3rd, Croatia may probably be a better team than the 7th place suggests!

    With a population of 4.5 million and an economy that is a third of New Zealand’s and about ten times that of PNG, Croatia is one more country the ICC must look to develop in order to spread the game in mainland Europe!

  38. July 4, 2006 at 12:48 am


    Croatia’s players come under the ‘returning expats’ category. Pretty much like Afghanistan, except for the fact that he numbers in Afghanistan’s case are touching 4 million, while Croatia’s returning nationals from Australia are much much less, around a 1000 I think.

    So no, Croatia’s standard does not represent their cricket structure. I dont think the ICC will be that much interested in them as yet.

    Greece is a full indegenous team, and the place from where they are from, Corfu, is bigger than Bermuda and apparently crazier about cricket than the Bermudans. I felt that if the ICC does not supprt them now, they will probably lose interest and move on to other sports which are more rewarding in their societies.

  39. Ram
    July 4, 2006 at 1:03 am


    If that is the case, why can’t these returning nationals spread the game in the country just like it happened in Afghanistan? Of course, we are not expecting another Afghanistan here but don’t you think the returning expats would be in a much better position to spread the game rather than Australian or Asian expats living over there?

  40. July 4, 2006 at 1:36 am


    They would be classified better than recent immigrants or imports, but less than or at par with second gen immigrants in the country in question. They can spread the game around, but the point is, that they will end up with a national team that is not indicative of their structure, just like US or Canada.

    I would not consider Croatia to be that high on any list at the momment. Definitely not something right now in which the ICC needs to get involved with.

  41. July 6, 2006 at 4:54 am


    You mentioned in one of your comments above that “… The ICC has to realize that even if it takes decades for a Russia or Taiwan to produce a team of Kenya’s or Denmark’s standards, that would still be better than a Cook Is. or Bermuda going on to win a World Cup …”

    I was thinking about this and have a comment.

    Wouldnt your statement also be true, if we were to substitute the word Bermuda with Afghanistan? I mean, what is going to be achieved if Afghanistan does win the world cup? Its not like they have any economy, its not like suddenly the cricket world or the ICC is going to start making some more money…… it is only about a good team coming to the limelight, which is a dependent country as far as the finances are concerned. In that regard, both Bermuda and Afghanistan are equal. Both are already passionate about the game, and both, even if they were to become world champs are unlikely to have any impact on the game as a whole, except for adding a new team to the roster. In Afghanistan’s case, it would be some population that they are adding to the ICC, but in Bermudas case, it would be some money (well, whatever it is, its going to be more than Afghanistan’s).

  42. Ram
    July 6, 2006 at 6:04 am

    Yes, I agree that Afghanistan may not add much to the game’s finances but atleast we can say there’s one additional country of population 25 million where cricket has spread to. I don’t think a Bermuda or Cook Islands or Vanuatu or any of those islands can ever consider to be a part of the expansion program, even if they can contribute to the game’s finances, because of their small populations that render them “unable” to sustain a good Test team and attract decent crowds to international matches they host, in the longer run..

  43. Bruce Gaskell
    July 6, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    This begs the question, why do we want Cricket to spread to new countries? Because we love the game and want more countries to enjoy it? Because we want Cricket to be more competitive? Or because we want the game to grow richer?

    I know these things are not mutually exclusive but surely the the first 2 are more important than the last.
    With the Population and economy of South Asia set to grow quickly in the forthcoming decades Cricket will grow richer anyway. This simple fact will provide for more growth than the likes of Netherlands landing a $1million TV contract would. (which is highly unlikely anyway)

    Cricket doesn’t desperately need 4 more sponsors or 40 million more viewers for the world cup, what it needs is 4 more teams capable of reaching the semi final.

    For this reason I see population as irrelevant. This is a sport with perhaps over a Billion fans, but only 8-9 competitive teams, I think it is obvious which figure would be the envy of other sports and which one wouldn’t.

  44. July 6, 2006 at 4:13 pm


    India is on record stating that the ICC ‘takes’ its money and puts it on European countries, something that the ICC even found important enough to respond to. Cricket at the momment has 3 boards that are loss boards, WI, Zim and Sri; 2 boards that barely break even in NZ and Ban, and the other boards go into a profit, which basically are taxed to get the game going not only in the 5 non profitting boards, but also the development program.

    Plus, you would want say, the Kenyans to be able to tour another country, like Netherlands, and make some money out of it, and vice versa. If Kenya tours Afghanistan where the entry would have to be free, all that they will get is atmosphere, and atmosphere does not put food on the table. Plus, you would also want the country to be a little stable, lest the good players start migrating out based on their cricket skills (e.g. Zim, before all the current mess started). Plus the economy of a country needs to be large enough to sustain the team, I dont think Bermuda’s is. How will they improve to be able to reach the semi finals without any money coming into the game, and how will any money come into the game, except from govt grants, if the economy is not big enough (or not there in the case of Afghanistan).

    But from our perspective, I think we want other countries to play it in good numbers because we love the game and want others to experience it as well. From a practical standapoint, the business of cricket (on of the 3 ICC agendas) needs to be taken into account as well.

  45. July 7, 2006 at 1:56 am


    You are correct though in saying that cricket needs more teams that can reach the semi final of the world cup. In fact, in my opinion, in this day and age, the biggest problem is that there is too much cricket being played and unless there are more teams involved, the games are likely to become pointless and boring if they are played between the same teams. You mentioned that there should be 4 new stronger teams, I think there should be at least 20 teams in the world that can reach the semi final of the world cup.

    ICC agrees actually. Mani said in his last interview that the focus now is to improve the quality of the cricket in the top associates. Yet, the manner in which they are going about it is a little haphazard. I mean, Bermuda has done a lot of ivestment in their game for the world cup, and also for the future series, in the hope that they will also get a big series. But the way their standard is going, it may not happen within their next 3 years, after which, if they lose in the ICC Trophy 2009, it will be back to square 1 because they will not even get the opputunities that the ICC is throwing their way at the momment on the count of being in the top 6 associates.

  46. Bruce Gaskell
    July 7, 2006 at 6:33 am

    Of course you’re right in saying individual boards need enough cash to support a national team, there is a level of infrastructure/funding required by associate nations to progress that a lot fall a long way short of. But once they reach that level personally I dont care how big their population or economy is as long as they play good Cricket.

    4 more countries capable of reaching the semi finals is a figure I plucked out of the air. But I really don’t think we can hope for many more than that in the next 20 years or so.
    Cricket isn’t too bad in this regard anyway. Football fans may tell you how open the football world cup is, but only 7 countries have ever won it. And you be a very brave man to bet against the 6 top teams sharing the next 5 cups.

  47. Ram
    July 11, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    Now…while we are discussing about the ICC’s desire in spreading the game, I really feel compelled to comment on the growing indifference and opposition to the ICC on this issue from Wisden, supposedly the game’s bible!


    The link above indicates that the Wisden, in its latest Annual, seems to have once again questioned the feasibility of the game spreading beyond the traditional boundaries. It is worth mentioning that Cricinfo, which regularly had encouraging news about Associate/Affliate cricket through its “Beyond the Test world” column by Tony Munro, has now not only abandoned that column but also seems to have made a U-turn in this regard, ever since it joined hands with Wisden.

    Cricinfo chose to describe the two ODIs involving Ireland and Scotland against the Test nations as below-par performances by the Test nations rather than on the two Associates and the crowd that turned up, while the ODIs involving Netherlands focussed on the lack of crowds and the ICC’s decision to award them official status, given the records broken, which seems to be indicative of the growing apathy to cricket beyond the Test world in their ranks.

    Will anyone make these people understand that cricket has indeed spread to countries like Afghanistan, Nepal, Uganda, Tanzania, Argentina, Japan and Greece?

  48. July 11, 2006 at 1:41 pm

    As I said Ram, that the only way forward at the momment is to raise the standard of the top 10 associates, and in a sustainable way. These would be the ‘subjective’ top 10, not the ICC rankings.

    In my opinion, the game has a decent chance in the following countries at the next 5-10 years: Scotland, Netherlands, Ireland, Kenya, Denmark, Uganda, Namibia, Nepal, Afghanistan and PNG. You can add Bermuda to this list, but be prepared to answer somone who mentions their population and playing numbers. Canada, USA, UAE etc. are all expat based teams. ICC will go backwards if they try to push cricket forward in these countries, becuase there is nothing to push (well UAE at least has the facilities…. and the ICC headquarter :)). However, if the ICC were to treat these countries as new entrants and develop the game from a scratch with the mainstream juniors etc, it would be a good move, and will yield better results, but be prepared to wait for 40 years. It will also keep the second and thrid gen expat kids into cricket in these countries because their game would not be a freak game to the mainstream anymore.

    You mentioned Argentina, Japan, Greece and Tanzania….. I dont think they are at any level at the momment. They are good starts…. but thats just it…. a start.

    I would like to mention that cricket was not the craze in Pakistan till the early 80s, when the team actually started winning. Hockey used to rule at that time. It was the exposure to the game through television and a regular cricket calender (even if it involved thrashing at the hands of WI), the super stars coming into the team (Younis, Akram, Afridi, Inzi, Saeed Anwar, Sohail), the 1992 WC, and finally the decline of hockey standards that have made it the passion that it is today.

    In any case, Engel mentioned in his article before that Scotland and Ireland are not really ‘new’ countries for cricket. In that case, he should consider both of them to be in the ‘traditional zone’ and let them be.

  49. Ram
    July 11, 2006 at 3:04 pm


    I think your list pretty much sums up the next 10 Associates that can hope to become a decent ODI team over the next 5-10 years.

    Now, considering that countries like Cook Is, Cayman Is, Vanuatu, Malawi, Lesotho, Bermuda, Maldives etc that the ICC presents as torch-bearers of the game’s progress in non-traditional areas, have very low populations, I wonder what happens after 10 years?..Where are the third level countries that can reach the level of a current Nepal, Uganda, Afghanistan or Denmark, 10 years down the line?..Definitely not USA, Canada, UAE or Oman, as you mentioned!

    It is in this context I feel the following countries hold promise: Japan, Argentina, Greece, Tanzania, Italy, Chile and maybe Croatia. Though China is a bit too early to predict anything, going by the rather ambitious plans of their national board to acquire Test status in another 15 years, one hopes that they can atleast produce a totally indigenous team that can reach the level of a current Nepal or Afghanistan team in another 10 years time..Not sure if any of the huge European countries like France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Austria etc or South American countries like Brazil hold any promise, 10 years down the line.

  50. July 11, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    I think that if the standard of these 10 countries that I mentioned + Bermuda is raised significantly, then the problem would not be that accute for the ‘rest’. There would be a lot more teams against whom the ‘rest’ can play and improve, and the regional rivalries would also get some following.

  51. October 15, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Exposure I think is the Key word.I reckon if this was improved it would make it a lot easier for Associate nations to grow the player bases in their countries and generate interest from sponsors and their respective govts. a case point being rugby 7’s and the massive surge in popularity that the game got from the the fact that a Kenyan team was on the global stage being competitive.That even now finding coverage of associate vs. associate ODI’s or even the Intercontinental cup matches beyond the Commentary on cricinfo is sad considering that these almost inevitably are the next points of growth for cricket

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