Ireland plan to build on their success
Buoyed by their success in the World Cup, Ireland are preparing to ask the ICC for financial help to take the game forward.
Ireland beat Pakistan to reach the Super Eights, and added a victory over another Test side - Bangladesh - to their list of victims in the second round. Now Warren Deutrom, the Irish Cricket Union's CEO, has said he will be looking to the ICC for support.
The top six Associates - including Ireland - receive an annual High Performance grant of around £125,000 from the ICC as well as the same allowance of £70,000 paid to all Associate members. That aside, all money to run the sport has to come from sponsors and other fund-raising events.
"I shall certainly not be backward in asking ICC in what ways it might assist in ensuring that Ireland's performance curve improves consistently over the next few years," Deutrom told Reuters. "This would be in the same way the ICC pumped in significant funding to both the USA and Kenya to move forward. After all, it's what the HPP is for."
After the 2003 World Cup, Kenya, who reached the semi-finals, were fast-tracked by the ICC and given considerable additional financial backing. But that money was almost all squandered as the country's cricket administration descended into chaos. And Project USA, the ICC's initiative to boost the game in the US, was scrapped after rows over governance with the country's board. The ICC is likely to be very cautious about making the same mistake again.
"My goal is to create a small team of professionals focused on the commercial and administrative side that can ensure we have a firm foundation for all areas of the game in Ireland," explained Deurtrom, a former events manager for the ICC. "That's all that any administration should be about ... providing the best possible environment for the game of cricket to thrive."
Ireland have high-profile ODIs against India and South Africa at Stormont later this year, and they hope to attract other major countries. That will give the ICU a chance to exploit the lucrative broadcast market. "There is no doubt that developing a broadcast partnership is the key to a secure long-term future finance and profile for the sport in Ireland," Deutrom said. "In terms of properties, there are domestic internationals and the possibility of creating new properties attractive to television. I will certainly be keen to cultivate relationships with the heads of sport at all of the broadcasters in Ireland and with overseas broadcasters that might have a footprint in Ireland.
"I have to say, though, our achievements in the 2007 World Cup have somewhat accelerated the timetable."
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa