Reforming Asian Competition
To my knowledge, the ACC and ICC are bloody bloody rich, and spend less than 30% of their revenue on development. The ACC have been doing a fantastic job by bringing in new members into the region, while helping existing members develop with their huge array of development initiative, study visits, umpiriing programs, administrative courses, curatorship courses etc. While this is all well and good, and should be continued, possibly in higher capacity, the national teams of most of the countries in the Asian region are dormant. Most Asian countries have 5 or 6 month leagues where players play on the weekends and practice once during the week, and then once every two years, national teams are banded together 2 months before the ACC Trophy so that the country can compete. While some of the Gulf countries have year long corporate club leagues with hundreds of games in 5 or 6 divisions, these are played on concrete and are usually 25 overs long. Furthermore, Bhutan, Maldives, Thailand, Nepal, Brunei, and Singapore have shorter leagues with fewer teams, fewer match days, and less practice. The obvious long route is that each country continue with its development program, and create the player base to expand their domestic system into a truly National Competition, with multi day competitions, and corporate funding, however this takes long, years if not decades. On many occasions, the leagues are present and run all year long, however just dont have the depth and even spread of quality. The ACC can do its bit to provide some of these countries with more international competition throughout the year, giving players more of a cricket life, expanding interest in these countries, and improving the quality of these countries’ teams at the same time. The Asian Premier League is proving to be a great success, with all five participants making strong appearances at the ACC Trophy. Players from these countries train, and play regularly against very good opposition, and the depth of players in the national teams of these countries is also improving. Is it time for the ACC to start an Asian First Division Competition with Kuwait, Afghanistan, Maldives, Thailand, and possibly Bahrain or Qatar running over 2 or 3 days? Is it time for a South East Asian one comp. with Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, China? A more regular middle east comp. which would include the UAE, and possibly have two divisions? A South Asian comp. with Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan, and possibly Afghanistan? I think something like this would be a great benefit to the players, and associations in the region. Countries like Afghanistan, Thailand, Kuwait, and Maldives should not have problems with player availability as they are either associate members, or have indigenous populations playing the sport with full government support.
The ACC could easily fund competitions like these……this should be the least of everyone’s worries.