The international cricket family became a little larger today with the addition of three new members to the ICC Associates ranks. These are Switzerland, Tajikistan and Mongolia, in no particular order.
The latter two are both fledgling cricket nations who have made appreciable progress in developing the sport from the grassroots. Situated in Central Asia next to Afghanistan, Tajikistan are looking to emulate their neighbour’s meteoric rise in the cricket world. They have around 4,000 cricket participants and a Betbarter sponsored T10 competition slated to start next month.
Speaking to the ICC Tajikistan Cricket Federation President Najibullohi Ruzi expressed delight at being accepted as an Associate Member.
“After fulfilling all the ICC membership requirements, we are very confident that we can successfully grow cricket in Tajikistan. This is a great incentive for us to focus on further accelerating the development work on our existing facilities, increase our capabilities in the areas of coaching and umpiring. The other areas on our priority list are high-performance programs for juniors and seniors’ both men and women”.
Mongolia on the other hand organised their inaugural T20 League cup last year, to great success. Furthermore, they have introduced cricket to many provinces around the country and gotten it included in the National Youth Games setup.
Battluga Gombo, the President of Mongolia Cricket Association, stated that joining the ICC is fundamental in the establishment of a coherent structure for Mongolian cricket.
“I am happy to see this noble game helping the young people here, contributing valuable experiences and giving them skills and ethics that they can take into other areas of their lives. MCA’s focus will continue to be the Schools’ Outreach Programme both in Ulaanbaatar and in the provinces, on inter-school competition and inter-province competition in the National Youth Games. We see this as the best way to sow the seed of cricket so that the sport becomes part of Mongolian life.”
Out of the three, Switzerland are not exactly new members as such, having held Affiliate status since 1985. They were expelled from the ICC in 2012 due to non-compliance. Having sorted out their domestic administrative troubles last year, the national cricket association announced their intentions of re-applying for Associate membership.
Cricket Switzerland President, Alexander Mackay described his pride and excitement at regaining Associate status after successfully meeting all criteria for membership.
“This is reward for all the people involved in cricket in Switzerland that have helped develop the game from a mainly ex-pat sport just ten years ago, to the established Swiss national sport that it is today. This latest step will help us develop cricket further in Switzerland and to become a driving force in European cricket at all levels.”
ICC General Manager – Development, William Glenwright extended a warm welcome to the new members.
“All three applications demonstrated an impressive commitment to growing the game – particularly amongst women and youth – and we look forward to assisting them in achieving their potential,” he said.
Universal T20 status driving growth
After a period of aggressive expansion in the 1990s and early 2000s, the ICC had gradually became less active in seeking out new countries for membership. Consequently, while sporting bodies such as FIFA and FIBA kept growing their member base, ICC’s growth had come to a grinding halt.
The last countries to join the global cricket body in any capacity, were Russia and Hungary in 2012 (Russia suspended in 2021). Since then, the only movement had been the re-admission of USA and Nepal; plus the expulsion of Morocco, Cuba, Brunei, Tonga, Switzerland (and Zambia in 2021) for various administrative reasons. Therefore, the addition of three new members is a fantastic development after the stagnation of the previous 9 years.
It is a testament to cricket’s continuing global growth on the back of universal T20 status and the introduction of global rankings. These have had a transformational impact on the sport, driving a 14% increase in global participation and a corresponding record increase in non-Full Members playing bilateral T20Is.
What New Membership Brings
As Associates, the new members will be formally represented at the ICC board level by a triumvirate of Associate member representatives. They would also receive ICC funding on an annual basis. The exact amount will be determined by a combination of measures on the ICC scorecard, which contains a total of 13 assessment categories. They are broken up as follows.
NOTE: Historically, non-full members had been divided up into the twin categories of Associates and Affiliates; with looser criteria set for Affiliate membership. In 2017, after ICC implemented Lord Woolf’s proposal to erase the distinction between the two aforementioned membership categories (amongst other wide-ranging governance reforms), all existing Affiliates got upgraded to Associate status.
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