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Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland, has launched a stinging attack on the ICC and the way it handles cricket below Test level.
The ICC has sunk millions of pounds into Associate and Affiliate cricket, and established several global competitions, but speaking to the Wisden Cricketer, Deutrom was unimpressed.
“What is the point of Associate cricket?” he said. “Ireland has proved itself head and shoulders above the rest of the Associate nations, winning all the available titles in every form of the game – four-day, 50-over and Twenty20. Yet we are bumping up against a glass ceiling. What does the ICC want us to do? How do we get from high-performance programme to the higher echelons of the world game? There is no road map for us. The issue brings to question the whole mission statement of the ICC High Performance programme: what is it preparing teams for?”
Deutrom has made no secret of his ambition to see Ireland play Test cricket, but he admitted there was little prospect of that happening in the near future. And, without that goal, he concluded, what was the point of the Associate merry-go-round.
“Three or four years from now there will be no new entrants in to the cosy club of full Test members. That is a significant frustration. It shows that despite the massive investment in the Associate programme, costing over £200 million over seven years, there is no stepping stone from No.1 of the Associate countries, into the Test world.
“Inclusion in the Future Tours programme gives guaranteed fixtures, which allows the CI board to put together a commercial package with some certainty. This makes it interesting for broadcasters, and then sponsors, ticketing and hospitality. Currently, we don’t know what next year’s fixtures are going to be. We are not saying that Ireland deserves to be a Test nation tomorrow but what steps do we need to take to get there?”
In a separate conversation, Deutrom told Cricinfo: “We are all aware that there is no established pathway to Test cricket for Associates, and ascension to the Full Member ranks by (for example) Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh appears to have happened rather haphazardly. For me, having top Associates playing the bottom-ranked Test teams is pure common sense and the first step in breaching the glass ceiling separating the Full Member and Associate world.”
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
© ESPN Sports Media 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.