ICC must start spreading the love

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It came at the end of a tournament, that on TV at least looked good, though behind the scenes, judging by reports out of India, there was the usual chaos that arose out of poor planning resulting from what is now regarded as normal BCCI politics.

But that final made us forget that. It ebbed and flowed and then produced the most unexpected and explosive finish. It was the type of match that will be marked as a seminal moment, for the T20 format and more broadly cricket itself.

Imagine a youngster watching that match. He or she will want to blast sixes like Carlos Brathwaite, produce shots like Joe Root and even bowl like Samuel Badree.

If you wanted to sell cricket to new markets, simply show people that final.

Of course the International Cricket Council only pretends that it wants to expand the game beyond the usual nations. The organisation’s CEO, Dave Richardson spoke about expanding the next tournament - to be played in 2020 - to possibly 18 teams, by increasing the number of Associates nations in first round of competition.

Increasing the participants is good, restricting them to only playing in that first round is lousy. Richardson, defended that opinion saying it would avoid mismatches, but T20 has proved itself the one format where mismatches can be avoided because of the very nature of one player being able to impact the outcome.

How can cricket expect to grow and even increase in popularity if participants don’t get to test themselves against the very best? The T20 format remains the ideal vehicle for expanding the game and getting it into the Olympics which must surely be a goal for the ICC.

However for that to happen the organisation needs to first show that it wants to grow the game and not just in the shallow means expressed by Richardson.

Afghanistan’s astonishing and rapid improvement is indicative of what can happen if Associate Member teams are exposed to high level competition and that methodology should be replicated for the likes of Oman, Uganda, the US, the Netherlands and others.

Of course it would also help if the cricket calendar was structured better to allow the Test playing nations to get face some of the Associate Members. The more these countries can play against the bigger nations, the better they’ll get and an event like the World T20 will be all the better for it. - The Star

Original source: ICC must start spreading the love

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