The Angus Berry Column
The ICC’s American dream
The Angus Berry Column: Previous Articles
For several years now the ICC has been hell bent on developing cricket in the US. What I want to discuss is why. Why does the ICC want to pumped money into a country that appears to have little appetite for the game? The US team is made up, almost entirely, of non-native players. They learn their trade in the Caribbean, India, Pakistan just to name a few; the homegrown players are nowhere to be seen.
This is not to say that cricket in America could not take off, but at the moment there is no infrastructure to develop local talent. People may say then that the ICC is right to pump in money, resources and time to the US cricket board, but my argument is that there are many countries that have far better prospects in the cricketing world, who are being treated far worse.
My case in point is Nepal. A country that has an abundance of local talent (The national team in entirely made up native Nepalese players), a huge fan base and a government and media set up that supports of the game. America is the antithesis of Nepal in cricketing terms. Very few local players, there is very little taste for the game from the American people and no media interest or government support.
It is baffling then how the ICC can justify the favouritism that is given to the US; a country that they feel could potentially fill their pockets with lucrative media and sponsorship deals. Decisions such as the one to give the US team a place in the World T20 qualifiers in 2008 when their position in world cricket at the time simply did not justify their inclusion. In comparison Nepal have been a team on the rise. They have performed well in world cricket league, steadily moving up the divisions. On top of this the tournaments that have taken place in Nepal have been subjected to huge crowds and national media interest.
To say that having a popular fan base should be the only criteria for support from the ICC would be naïve, but what it does show is that the native people of a country have an appetite for the game. Surely that should be something that the powers that be should bb looking at? Interest in the game will fuel youngsters into taking up the game; this will only be helped by media coverage.
In the US very few school play the game, in Nepal most do. America may be able to point to the large communities of Caribbean and Asian cricketers as way in which they can develop the game. It has been 8 years since the US competed in their first major international tournament, the ICC trophy in England. Since then they have gone from scandal to scandal and the team has plummeted in terms of performances.
The promise of the money and exposure to the top teams from the ICC meant the US team never had time in which to develop an infrastructure and they have found unearthing talent difficult. Nepal and other associate and affiliate teams that have been allowed time to develop the game and create an appetite for cricket among the population are now on the rise. Ireland, a team that was 10 years ago or so full of South Africans and Australian have been given the time to work with the game and have brought through many youngsters who are now on the radar of the England team.
The ICC, in my opinion, is too obsessed with money making schemes; they are running the game of cricket as an enterprise when they should be working towards developing the sport in as many countries as they can. The ICC should be aware of false profits, just because the US is a country with huge wealth, this does not mean that they want to invest it in cricket. Countries such a Nepal, that have a huge love of the game and have been developing and improving as a cricketing force deserve more from the games rulers.
The promise of talent and love of the game should be worth more to the ICC than the chance of lining their pockets with cash.
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