The Tim Brooks Column
A new membership category: Associate Plus
The Tim Brooks Column: Previous Articles
The recent award of TAPP funding to Ireland and Scotland has been received very positively by administrators and supporters alike. But does it hide an uncomfortable truth, that the ICC are not minded to consider applications for full member status? In Ireland’s case if their recent application was being considered seriously then they would not require TAPP funding, as the full member grant would provide ample funding for the initiatives they included in their bid.
I hope that I am proved wrong and that TAPP, along with the HPP, are stepping stones to the end to full member status at the rainbow. But the signals do not look good and it looks very much like the ICC are appeasing the leading associates by giving them a promotion of sorts, not to full member but to ‘associate plus’. Under Associate Plus members will be able to play ODIs, first class cricket in the Intercontinental Cup and have a pathway for world cup qualification.
They will have sufficient grant to have a semi-professional national team set-up and opportunities to play full members more regularly (this is a key element of the TAPP funding). This represents a significant change to the majority of associates, who have much lower grants (without HPP, ODI and TAPP top ups) and most of which aren’t even awarded list A status for their fixtures. It is, to all intents and purposes, a different membership category.
The prime issue for the Associate Plus members will be the ICC’s stance on Woolf’s recommendation to remove the link between full members status and test cricket. If by a minor miracle the pro-development voices can be heard amongst the commercial rumpus then there is hope that the global game at the top level can expand. If they aren’t and commercial pressures hold sway, as they have in decisions relating to world cups, then associate plus may well prove to be the horizon of ambition for aspiring cricket nations.
But this is not to say that there will be no more clarion calls for development, no issues to excite a picket line. There will be a lot of opportunities for associate plus members and it would be great to see more associates promoted to this new membership category. An extension of the HPP and the number of nations awarded ODI status are issues worth fighting for. It may well be that 30 ODI ‘associate plus’ nations is a more realistic ambition than an eleventh test nation.
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