Dave Richardson – What Next?
Sports administrators are rarely known for their vision when it comes to such issues as planning for the future and helping emerging nations.
Yet, even with that caveat, there was something profoundly depressing about ICC chief executive Dave Richardson’s words on Sunday, as he summed up the positive vibes which had been generated by the World T20 event in India.
Nobody can quibble that the tournament was an outstanding success. Whether in the early stages, where Scotland and Afghanistan orchestrated a thriller and Oman beat Ireland or in such epic tussles as England surpassing South Africa’s 229 or the West Indies’ roller-coaster progression to the title with a quartet of sixes from Carlos Brathwaite, the on-field action had everything.
But now Mr Richardson wants to expand the format by establishing a Super 12 in the future and inviting two more countries to the party. Oh, and he also wants to persevere with a 10-team World Cup in 2019.
Worse still, he doesn’t envisage any more help for the Associates than the Intercontinental Cup – which is simply not fit for purpose – and the World Cricket League. Talk about one step forward and three back!
The fact of the matter is that there is a gulf between the ICC’s Full Members and the Associates, which will only increase in ODIs and T20s if there aren’t more efforts made to assist the rising nations. Afghanistan, one of the best in that category, were the only team to defeat the West Indies in the last three weeks which proves there isn’t a vast chasm between the elite and the wannabes.
But what now? Does Mr Richardson really expect the Scots, the Irish, the Dutch, Afghanis and others to improve their standards with the odd one-off fixture against a big gun here and there when the packed fixture schedule allows it?
And does he seriously think Preston Mommsen, Will Porterfield and Peter Borren weren’t making valid points when they queried the format of the World T20 qualifying event and asked for greater help from the ICC?
As matters stand, you have a sport heading in two wildly different directions. There’s the one of the IPL, the Big Bash, the BPL and other tournaments swimming in cash, TV rights and the globe’s leading talents. Then there are the Associates.
Mr Richardson sounded like a man making up policy on the hoof in Sunday: an official with no idea of the anger which the ICC’s World Cup decision has sparked. Mommsen & Co aren’t asking for hand-outs or favourable treatment at the expense of other people. Instead, they are committed individuals who want a proper chance to climb the ladder.
The ICC meets in Edinburgh in June and it would be good to imagine they might have devised a schedule which helps the whole T20 world, whether in creating qualifying pathways for the best Associates to tackle the ICC Full Members, or even have changed their minds on the ludicrous decision to contract the 2019 World Cup when every other sport is moving in completely the opposite direction.
But don’t bet your mortgage on it if Mr Richardson’s opinions embody the ICC’s wider philosophy.
Ultimately, gimmicks, buzzwords and shoddy platitudes about the Associate countries won’t help anybody. And nothing will change for the better until the ICC gets to grips with that concept.