ICC news July 3, 2012

Isaac wants ICC credibility

Ger Siggins at Clontarf

Alan Isaac is only five days into his term as president of ICC but the New Zealander is already thinking of his legacy.

"I'd like to think that, at the end of my two years, that ICC is seen to have a bit more credibility about its governance and how it governs the game," he said. "That it's seen to be governing the sport on a global basis better than perhaps it's seen at the moment."

Isaac was speaking to ESPNcricinfo before the scheduled World Cricket League ODI between Ireland and Afghanistan in Dublin - which was pushed into a reverse day by rain - and had much to say about the Associate and Affiliate side of the game, specifically the row about their exclusion from the 2015 World Cup.

"That was a huge debate - is that the best way to develop the game or should it be just the best sides, and you do other things to develop the game? Or is Twenty20 the best format to do that? The facts stand for themselves that cricket in Ireland has developed dramatically since 2007 with the wins at the World Cup.

"A ten-team World Cup actually provides a better format. It's a more exciting competition and commercially it has a bit more value. And the matches arguably are better matches."

"One of the reasons for the reduction was because the 1992 World Cup, with nine countries, was a fantastic success - there were 87,000 at the final between England and Pakistan. That format where everybody played everybody was very popular and, arguably, is ideal."

Another major issue for Associates such as Ireland is the plunder of its players by Full Members, much as how the All Blacks raid the Pacific islands. Isaac said the situation was always being monitored but the problem was not just below Test level.

"The eligibility rules are continually being reviewed. But it's an issue for the lesser-ranked full members as well. There are a lot of young cricketers in Australia who could qualify to play for New Zealand but obviously they would rather play for Australia if they could because the rewards are much greater.

"I think if we're going to have more competitive teams we need to have a little more flexibility around those eligibility rules so that the guy that doesn't make the Australian team - even though he might have played for the Australian A side - can play for New Zealand after a period of time," he added. "You can't have them swopping countries all the time, but I think we could look at how some of the other sports are refreshing that eligibility rule, to get more competitive teams."

Isaac has decided to begin his stint as president with a visit to the two Associates - Ireland and Scotland - that received a $500,000 funding boost last week.

"I was keen I come to the UK and some ICC staff suggested it was an opportunity to come to Ireland and, next week visit Scotland. Ireland have made huge progress so it was opportunity to see that first hand.

"Obviously I haven't seen any cricket, but when you meet people in Associate environments, it's like the scene back home where you meet people who are passionate and enthusiastic about cricket. You don't always get that when you're watching England play Australia. It's really good to get in touch with the people who are working at the grass roots level," he said.

"I was very involved with the TAPP application which tells a really good story about what's happened here in the last ten years in terms of development and the increase in playing numbers."

One of the items on Ireland's wish list is 12-15 ODIs a year, and Isaacs is encouraging on this count. "It was really disappointing for Ireland that last week's game against Australia was rained off, but I see more of those games happening. I know Ireland are working closer with the ECB which should see more games with England and also as countries tour England."

However, he was less enthusiastic about Ireland's stated aim of being a Test playing nation by 2020.

"That raises the whole question of where the three formats of the game sit. But I think if you are serious about playing cricket you have to aspire to be the best test player and if you want to be serious about being a cricket nation then that's a good aspiration to have."

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