An amateur solution in a professional world
Martin Williamson has written an article which highlights the pressures players for Associate countries face as they compete with the budgets of the Full Members.
In expanding the game, the ICC has, rightly, offered more matches to the Associates. On top of any ODIs they can persuade Full Member countries to give them, as well as tournaments they arrange among themselves, they participate in the Intercontinental Cup, the World Cricket League and the four-yearly ICC Trophy. But that expansion has not taken into account that the players remain amateur.
The flaw in the ICC's plan is that the increased demands have not been backed by additional funding. In the year ending April 30, 2007, Scotland were scheduled to play 46 days of cricket (including warm-ups for tournaments) as a national side; the numbers for the other Associates are similar - Bermuda 45, Canada 43, Ireland 42, Kenya 37, Netherlands 24. That does include time spent preparing, travelling and acclimatising.
The direct funding they receive for that from the ICC amounts to US$215,000, of which $125,000 is not actually handed over to the boards but is retained by the ICC and used to offset other costs, such as paying for coaches and hosting training camps. Compare that with the lowest-ranked Full Member, Zimbabwe, who will receive around US$10 million with no requirement to account for how it is spent. In the same period, they had 37 days cricket scheduled. That really puts into perspective Ireland's achievement in Jamaica.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa