Cricket about to sign its own death warrant?

by coverpoint

On Saturday 25th September 2010 in the USA, in Kentucky, the 6th World Equestrian Games began. For the first time The Games are taking place outside of Europe and for the first time there will be as many as eight equestrian disciplines being contested. Sixty nations will compete and for the first time The Games have a name sponsor. Irishman Pearse Lyons through his company Alltech have poured in millions upon millions of dollars to ensure that The 'Alltech Games' are the biggest and best yet.

Already this summer sports fans have been treated to a wonderful football World Cup - a competition which was competed for by nations from all corners of the globe. For the first time the tournament was held in Africa and what a success it was. There were new winners too, Spain, playing a brand of football England's overpaid and overhyped 'superstars' could only dream about.

Thia weekend, golf's Ryder Cup takes place. The history of the Cup is interesting. Until 1979 the Cup was a competition between the USA and Great Britain and Ireland. Between 1959 and 1977 the USA won all but one of the matches (the other in 1969 was a tie). The great US golfer Jack Nicklaus saw an opportunity to expand the game to include Europe, as golfers such as Spain's Sevy Ballesteros were beginning to emerge. At the time, Nicklaus was heavily criticised by people (from both sides of the pond but mainly from the US) concerned about protecting their own narrow agenda. Nicklaus was however able to see beyond the short term US perspective and see a bigger picture. The Ryder Cup has since proved to be a huge driver of growth in popularity of golf not only in Europe but in the US and all over the world.  

This time next year the Rugby Union World Cup will be taking place. In a much more physically demanding game than cricket, 20 nations will compete in the tournament including nations such as Russia, USA, Japan and Canada. The sport has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity as the public have responded positively to the authorities' drive to broaden the appeal of the sport. They have done this by expanding the Five Nations to a Six Nations tournament, by using the Heineken Cup and Magners League to appeal to new audiences and of course by introducing in 1987 a World Cup and then expanding it from 16 nations to 20.

This brings us to The ICC Chief Executive's Committee remarkable recommendation to the ICC Board that the 2015 Cricket World Cup should consist of just ten countries. At best, it can be said that such a move is extremely short-sighted. At worst it could be the defining decision in the decline of cricket as a significant sport. Already cricket limits its premier product, test cricket, to a small number of nations. To now take its blue riband one day tournament and similarly restrict that is just sporting and commercial suicide.

Cricket is currently hugely popular in India but it would be remarkably short-sighted to believe that it doesn't need to continuously look to expand and grow.

In the days of Jimmy White and Alex Higgins snooker was hugely popular. But weak leadership, rumours of corruption and a lack of vision led to a rapid decline. Still, snooker does have one important advantage over cricket. Like almost all sports, it doesn't matter where you are from, what part of the world you live in, you can still aspire to and if you are good enough become the best in the world, to become the world champion.

Worryingly, cricket doesn't seem to share that value. Rather it seems to want to become a closed shop.

Cricket isn't in danger of falling as far as snooker. It's in danger of descending to the same level as the University Boat Race.

Cricketeurope are running an online petition in an effort to show the ICC that there is widespread opposition, not just in Associate and Affiliate countries, but throughout the world.  This petition can be found at
 http://www.cricketeurope4.net/PETITION/

Please sign it to voice your opposition to this ridiculous proposal.

 

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