ICC meetings

As I write this, there are various meetings underway at ICC HQ in Dubai. The headline grabbing item of discussion so far has been Pakistan Cricket Board Ramiz Raja's proposal for an annual quadrangular T20I tournament involving England, Australia, India and Pakistan.

More India v Pakistan matches would be nice, but does the world really need any more England v Australia matches? Raja claims that the event will produce revenue for all ICC members but one imagines that once the participants and other full members have had their share of the pie, the associates will be left fighting for crumbs.

The bigger news from an associate point of view is that ODI status for certain women's associates is being considered. This is obviously on the back of the disappointing conclusion (or lack of conclusion to be more precise) to the Women's World Cup qualifier in Zimbabwe last October. Thailand, who were certain of qualification for the next stage and almost certainly set to qualify for the ICC Women's ODI Championship.

Currently, qualifying for the Women's Championship - expanded to ten teams for the next edition - is the only way an associate can secure ODI status. The women's teams of Zimbabwe and Afghanistan who are not in the Women's Championship (the latter doesn't even exist) have ODI (as well as Test) status by virtue of being an ICC full member.

Therefore whilst 8 associates have men's ODI status, none have women's ODI status. Were the Thailand men's team putting in the sort of performances the women's team have been putting in during the last few years, they'd have ODI status and we'd be talking up Thailand as a prospective full member.

Cricket Association of Thailand president Ravi Sehgal first requested ODI status for Thailand at an ICC Board meeting in December but his pleas fell on deaf ears. It is hoped that a renewed plea will be heard more fairly. They have the backing of the ICC's development manager for Asia, Aminul Islam the former Bangladesh captain.

Speaking to cricket journalist Tristan Lavalette, who is well worth a follow as he has a habit of getting big news out of ICC meetings, Islam said "They have had a good model, such as consistency of coaches and development programs, so the pillars are there for sustainable success. Thailand is proof that cricket is growing beyond British colonies and they are building a cricket culture. But they need to play more matches."

The more matches bit is the key. Just having ODI status does not bring more matches as the men's associates that had ODI status before the ICC bothered to put in regular matches for them between World Cups can attest. If the ICC are to grant women's ODI status to selected associates, there needs to be some sort of co-ordinated competition for them.

The same also applies to Zimbabwe who currently have ODI status with no guaranteed matches. I'm ignoring Afghanistan here because, and I can not stress this often enough, the ICC gave them women's Test and ODI status despite them not existing.

A second division of the Women's ODI Championship involving Zimbabwe and, say, five associates would be great, though obviously the goal should be to eventually have the women's pathway be as similar as possible to the men's in terms of scope.

It would certainly be more welcome than more England v Australia matches.

The end of the Kinrara Oval

The Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur, long one of the best facilities in the associate world outside of the UAE, has been given its final execution order after being granted a stay of execution back in 2018.

The premier facility in South-East Asia, the ground has played host to several associate tournaments, in addition to ODIs involving full members and several games in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup.

Without diving too deeply into the legal issues at play, the basic issue is that the landowners wanted the Malaysia Cricket Association to vacate the premises so that they could develop the site for commercial use. Their position is that the MCA weren't paying the market rate whilst the MCA said that as a non-profit organisation they should only have to pay a lower rent.

In the end, after a protracted court battle, the ruling came down in favour of the landowners and the MCA were evicted for failure to pay the increased rent. Not only have they been evicted but much of their equipment is being auctioned off including furnishings, gym equipment and the machinery used by the ground staff.

It wasn't just used as a cricket ground either, with the facility also housing a hostel for national team players and 42 full time staff of the MCA. To call this a big blow to cricket in Malaysia would be an understatement. And not just Malaysia either with other teams from around the region also using the facility for training over the years.

The ground was likely to have been one of the hosts for a much postponed CWC Challenge League event in December. Malaysia may still be able to host the event at their other venues, but none will have the facilities of the Kinrara Oval.