ICC to clamp down on non-performing Affiliates
Countries who receive ICC monies but do not field a national side could lose out as the whole way that Associates and Affiliates are funded.
Until now, once a country gained such status its board merely had to show that it functioned to continue receiving annual payments, But as the sums involved grow, the ICC has decided to raise the bar in terms of what they are expected to do and to enforce its own rules more strictly.
If countries do not put out a national side then they will be put on notice at this year's ICC AGM in June, and if the situation remains unremedied they face being suspended in 2011. That gives them three years to correct the situation.
Despite some negative coverage in some sections of the media, the ICC was adamant that it was the right action to take. "Why would an international sporting federation want - or want to significantly invest in - members that can't even field a national team in the international competition opportunities that it facilitates?" an ICC spokesman told Cricinfo.
"With the increase in funding levels (approximately US$300 million over the next eight years) to Associates and Affiliates, we are looking to our members to put plans in place that enable them to develop and one of the planks of any plan would be to give people, especially the best players, within their constituencies an incentive to stay involved and reach the best level they can - and one way to do that is to have a national team.
"We've seen the positive effect national competition can have on members like Uganda and Afghanistan and with those additional funds and our desire to ensure all members have plans in place to use them, there's now going to be much less excuse for members not to put the programmes in place"
The reality is that the ICC has always been able to take this course of action, but now that it has established a World Cup qualifying system right down to the smallest countries, the failure of some to raise a national team while still collecting the same rewards as those who do has become more apparent.
And contrary to what some have claimed, it is not a new rule but merely a more rigid enforcement of an existing one.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa