Cricket is a game that is dominated by just a few nations. While there are many countries that play the game it is only this select group of ten full members that hold all the cards. There are 36 associate members of the ICC and 60 affiliates. The top six of these sides are granted ODI and T20i status when they play international matches, none are allowed to play Tests. Reporting on these 96 nations and their cricket is a niche. While practice matches between full members ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy were televised, matches played by these countries, even against full member sides, rarely are.
Those that care about the growth of cricket beyond the narrow scope of the full members are frustrated about how the sport is growing and governed.
Jamie Harrison, the President of the United States Youth Cricket Association (USYCA) is deeply involved in promoting cricket to young people in America. The USA is an associate member of the ICC, and not one of the top six nations that play full international matches outside of World Cups. Harrison is increasingly concerned at the role that the ICC has in developing cricket in the USA.
"I have gradually come to the conviction that the ICC's relationship to the United States is more colonial than supportive, and this makes the ICC at least partially responsible for the state of the game here. The ICC primarily looks after the interests of the ten full members. In America, there are 5-10 million expatriate cricket fans here and this is what truly interests the ICC about America, not the idea of growing a potential full member nation. Its actions betray this."
"As a former US History teacher, I know that colonial economics is based upon the principle of mercantilism, which, among other things, stipulated that the purpose of having a colony was to extract wealth through which it could enrich the mother country. This was done by sending over people born in the mother country, who would be loyal to that country. Those people then create a market in which the mother country can sell its finished products, while simultaneously discouraging the colony from developing its own products that might compete with the imports from abroad. The final equation is that the colony exists to be consumers of products from the mother country, with its wealth flowing in one direction - to the mother country."
Much is made of the market that the USA represents to the product that is called cricket. There is an untapped resource in America. But is that interest in America about developing the game there, or is it about making money for those boards that run cricket? Harrison says that it is the latter.
"The situation in America only benefits the ICC if it has easy access to American markets, without having to worry about American competition. Which is probably why the idea of an American T20 league being broadcast into India was reportedly shot down by the ICC last October in Sri Lanka. Keep the market, kill the competition. To make sure that a mother country has proper oversight in a colony, it must also send over a competent administrator to serve as royal governor, which is exactly what the ICC did when it sent over Darren Beazley from Australia."
"This also explains the ICC's unwavering approval of USACA, which by being the ICC's functionary in the American marketplace, does just enough to keep the ICC happy. If the ICC really cared about the USA becoming a cricket powerhouse, or even a major Associate nation, it would have jettisoned USACA years ago, rather than reinstating them twice. The ICC's propping up of USACA as its ultimate statement of contempt for the American cricketer. This colonial relationship is thus at least partially responsible for the retardation of the game's development in the United States."
The question we need to ask is do we want our game to spread, or are we happy to see it remain a closed shop to any newcomers? If we do want cricket to break new ground then perhaps it is time to look again at the relationships between the haves and the have nots.
This article originally appeared on The Armchair Selector and is reproduced with kind permission of the author.