April 13, 2007

Associates

An amateur solution in a professional world

Martin Williamson

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.

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by jeremy on (June 24, 2007, 14:21 GMT)

It is not the ICC's responsibility to fund the domestic professional cricket in member countries. If their own people won't do so, then why should anyone else!

Posted by Alex on (April 18, 2007, 8:35 GMT)

People! Be realistic, will you. Rant against authority all you want. The ICC clearly botched this World Cup, and they've clearly mishandled the situation in Zimbabwe. But, cricket will never thrive amongst the Canadians - or the Dutch - or Americans. It won't. Understand this. The ICC is not to blame for retiring 24-year-old Dutch cricketers. The ICC can't turn water into wine.

Maybe Daan Van Bunge retired out of shame for gifting Herschelle Gibbs six sixes, the last two especially. The people who rail against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are the same people who are now interested in turning Netherlands and Ireland into ODI nations. Does this make sense?

Maybe the ICC, and I think Cricinfo would agree, should focus on maintaining the status quo.

Posted by Abhay Natu on (April 17, 2007, 20:48 GMT)

Do not agree entirely with the article. What is the difference between a 24 year old Dutch player and a 24 year old first class player in a second tier (in terms of money, Sri Lanka, WI, Bangladesh)? Both are staking their careers and livelihoods on their cricketing prowess. If they succeed, they can make money and support themselves. If they fail, they have to fall back on an alternate career. No different in these countries than The Netherlands, Ireland, Kenya, Canada or what-have-you's. Perhaps, the decision to switch to an alternate career is hastened in associate countries than in SRL, BAN, CAN.

Throughout the history of the game, only the affluent have made a mark on it. Mostly because only they could afford to play the game, proficient at it or not. Do not believe me? Take a look at the old English roster. Except for some 'professionals,' (few and far between) you will find names like Lord This or Sir That more often.

Bottomline - nothing's changed. ICC will not change it unless they let go of the 'all-money-must-flow-through-our-books' attitude. Depending on somone's (ICC) generosity will not spur the game in associate countries. It will have to come from within.

Posted by Patrick de Leede on (April 17, 2007, 15:09 GMT)

Brilliant article. Finally someone who recognises that amateurs make huge sacrifices in order to pursue their dreams.

Posted by nick mac on (April 17, 2007, 0:21 GMT)

What else can be expected of lawyers and accountants? More interested in money now not later. Why should a countries population pay for the building up of a sport that benefits so few? If the ICC wants new nations in this competition then it should be in the business of installing those bits and pieces that are needed for it to work.

After all, the ICC will be the main benefactor out of any success. Should they not be the ones to take the gamble on infrastructure costs? Cricket does not need 100,000 seat stadiums to be a success, especially so in budding nations, when a 2000/20,000 seat ground would be more than ample. I am hoping places like Ireland get it together, the game needs these nations to survive and give variation. Surely the multitude of governing bodies of each of the main playing nations could do there bit by including a minnow nations main players within their state/county/regional games on a rotational basis, working as training facility for these nations.Same for the ground staff and the umpires.

The ICC makes more than enough to cover the costs involved as do the England/Australian/Indian and possibly Pakistan/S.African boards. I think this would bring these nations up to speed alot quicker than we are seeing at present.The boards of these nations should include the players/coach, and must have open accountability for all moneys spent.I dont understand why the difference is so vast in financing..eg.215thou vs.10mill?

As for Zimbabwe, they shouldn't be getting a dime unless it can ALL be assured its not going to the hands of Mugabe! Funding that fool is the last thing cricket, or anything else should be apart of.

I shudder at the thought of all the money wasted on largesses in the WEST INDIES,(new stands/grounds) when the rest of the game there is in dire straits.New stadiums wont make a team great, but those same resources may have done a bit to get the kids back into the game, instead of soccer/ basketball.

Posted by James Cumberland on (April 15, 2007, 17:29 GMT)

I wonder how much of the money Zimbabwe received actually went towards cricket, and how much went into the coffers of Mr. Mugabe, if the ZCU did not have to account for how the money was spent?

Posted by Mark Warburton on (April 15, 2007, 14:57 GMT)

I found your article to be bang on and find it addresses the Canadian situation directly.I feel that the growth potential for cricket in this country is huge if handled and promoted properly. if you think back to early years of hockey, lacrosse and even baseball, amateur teams rode buses and brought the games to the community and received the gate(ticket sales) as payment for the entertainment.It seems too simple but it is a start. I have attended four day matches at our I.C.C. approved ground and paid only to park.I for one would not deny any of the participants a decent days pay to lighten their load and encourage their performance

Posted by Don Talon on (April 15, 2007, 12:33 GMT)

This world cup has been as much about race as it has about anything. I live in the westindies and from the get go - as far back as 2005 -the locals considered it a 'white people world cup.' The prices were set to squeeze the life out of the tourist who they predicted were goin to land on these shores in the thousands and spend lots of English pounds and the like..which didn't happen.

I wonder if this article would have been posted if an equaly talented black Kenya or bermuda player had chosen to retire...the answer whould have been no.

Posted by Kavin on (April 15, 2007, 11:43 GMT)

Thought-provoking article, asking many important questions, and the comments are also very interesting with good ideas. As a cricket fan, I want to see the game continue to grow and develop around the world; however, not in the way that is presently being pursued by the ICC which is doomed to result in continual mediocre cricket outside of the top teams.

Posted by ASIF on (April 15, 2007, 11:06 GMT)

I guess lots of U13, U15, U17,U23 cicket going on in Europe. ICC must decide which countries they are gonna give priority. For example, they have given DENMARk & NAMIBIA a nod to HPP. SO they have to decide if the young players from these countries take cricket as a profession or not. The Associates are there for the love of the game. You can't make them decide on important issues.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Williamson
Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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