There was a question in my mind for last 6 years that will the cricket really ever become popular like football in entire world?
When I ask this question to two senior officials of IPL Pune team in 2010 in their Sahara Office at Lucknow, they blew the question in jest, but the question is still there. The question whether cricket will be played in 200 countries of the world like football? Will the king of football Brazil be the King of Cricket also one day? Will the Cricket World Cup take place in Japan ever? Questions are really very simple but answers are not so easy.
But I do not see this dream comes true at least in next one or two decades, especially until ICC does not change its future plan. Before knowing the future of cricket development, you need to see short history and growth of Cricket and Football globally.
|Full Members (In football, there is nothing like full or associate members)||10||—|
|Associate Members (In football, there is nothing like full or associate members)||38||—|
|World Cup Host Countries (Cricket – India Sub Continent, England, Oceana, West Indies) (If West Germany is counted, there are 19 host countries)||04||18|
|Countries played world cup||20||77|
|Governing body has number of tournaments (Under-15,17,19 are not included)||03||06|
|1st World Cup ( Due to world war II, football world cup in 1942 and 1946 were cancelled)||1975||1930|
|World Cup played so far (ODI Cricket world cup and Fifa World Cup)||11||20|
|Countries became champion||05||08|
|Countries played finals of world cup||07||12|
Above table clearly shows that the governing bodies of cricket and football, both almost simultaneously came in existence, but football has spread rapidly around the world, while cricket is still working in 50 years old style.
ICC’s slow pace
ICC has turned 107 years now, but less than 20% of the world (38 countries) is still associate members. Do remember the fact that till World War 2, almost half of the world was under British rule and cricket was being played in all these countries. In 1926 ICC had 6 full-time members. After 90 years later, in 2016 it has just added 4 new countries (Sri Lanka, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh). Bangladesh got test status in 2000 but it had to wait for 1st test victory for 5 years. Similarly, if Germany, France, Ghana, Nigeria, Argentina will not be allowed to play test or ODI matches against big players like India, Australia, Pakistan etc, how will they win their 1st victory in T20, ODI and Test cricket. In the first six cricket world cups, 5 countries won the title and 3 countries out of these 5 are from India sub continent. Due to these victories, Cricket became most popular and unofficial national game for all these 3 countries (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) which ultimately became the major source of income for ICC. But now see what the world has got in last 20 years from 1996 to 2016. 4 of the last 5 World Cup is won by Australia and one is won by India. That means there is no cricket forward. Asian Cricket Council has 25 members but Asia Cup has never got more than 5-6 countries. China has about 20% of world population, but ICC is not paying that much of attention on the development of cricket in China as is needed. If just one country is winning the World Cup again and again, then how the game will spread in other countries. It will be a good for cricket if Uganda would win cricket world cup and 5 times world champion Australia would not able to qualify for world cup.
ICC’s suicide step
Now the question is that why cricket is not becoming popular like football in other countries. Let’s understand the whole story by statistics. ICC has taken a step for World Cup 2019 which is like suicide step for the game. ICC has decided to reduce the number of countries for cricket world cup 2019. In 2011 and 2015 total 14 teams took participate in World Cup including 10 full member and remaining four associate members. But now in 2019, instead of 14 teams, only 10 teams will participate. 8 of these 10 will be full members and two will be associate countries. Similarily, in 2013 for T20 cricket cup’s qualifying round, total 16 countries were allowed to participate, but in 2015, it was reduced to 14 countries only. I fail to understand what ICC wants.
What is it about football that is not Cricket
Cricket’s problem is that India, Australia, England and other full members do not undergo any qualifying rounds, but associate countries simply have to qualify each time. While in football, except host country and the current world champion, all countries have to play qualifying rounds for World Cup each time. Due to this system, very strong teams like Argentina, France, England and Italy did not qualify for the world cup and other small countries qualified which has ultimately increased the popularity of the games in small countries also. See the list give below.
|Country||When the country did not qualify for FIFA World Cup?|
|Chile||1954, 1958, 1970, 1978, 1986, 2002, 2006|
|England||1974, 1978, 1994|
|France||1962, 1970, 1974, 1990, 1994|
|Mexico||1934, 1974, 1982|
|Russia||1978, 1998, 2006, 2010|
|South Africa||1994, 2006, 2014|
|Japan||1954, 1962, from 1970 to 1994|
|S.Korea||from 1970 to1982|
|Spain||1954, 1958, 1970, 1974|
|Sweden||1954, 1962, 1966, 1982, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2014|
|USA||From 1954 to 1986|
|Uruguay||1958, 1978, 1982, 1994, 1998, 2006|
ICC is so dependent on just one or two countries that today if India moves out from cricket, ICC will surely be in a big financial crisis. Without India in the world cup, ICC could hardly earn money. In my 16 years long career, I have heard dozens of times from the authorities that they want India to reach either in World Cup final, and the semi-final and if there will be Indo-Pak clash in Semi Final or Final, then it will be like an icing on the cake. ICC must think out of the box now. There are several countries in the world which are arch rivals like India and Pakistan. If Indo-Pak rivalry is benefiting to cricket, why does ICC not try it with Israel and Palestine, USA and Russia, North Korea and South Korea, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan etc.