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Much is spoken about the expansion of the international game, and if, as expected, proposals for a significant increase in funding for the Associates is approved when the ICC meets in June, then their progress should be further boosted.
But cash and goodwill can only go so far. What is widely agreed is that to improve, the leading Associates need to play more, and against the elite top ten Full Member countries. And that is where the problems come.
A casual glance at the international schedule will show that the major countries are on an almost constant global tour. In part this is because of the requirements of the Future Tours Programme, but more often than not the large gaps in that schedule are filled with lucrative one-day tours or tournaments.
In an ideal world, there would be time for India or England to undertake ambassadorial tours to Kenya or the Netherlands. But given the choice between a lucrative three-match series against commercially attractive opposition containing star names or a trip to a cricketing outpost in Africa or Europe, it's not a contest.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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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.