ICC’s decision to grant ODI status to four teams augurs well for the sport’s globalisation

ICC’s decision to grant ODI status to four teams augurs well for the sport’s globalisation

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ICC decided to expand the 12-team ICC ODI rankings table to accommodate Nepal, Netherlands, Scotland and United Arab Emirates (UAE) and starting June 1, every ODI game that these teams play from here on will count towards determining their rank and it is a welcoming move.

However, as bluntly as they scream from the roof-top, the sport has always been a domain of archaic oligarchy and has never been designed in a way to make it a global sport. In no small measure, the India-Australia dominance has made international cricket a stagnant pool since the turn of the millennium - noo matter whether the big three-model was in place or not. World Cup’s contraction to 10 teams or taking a measure share form the associate nation’s pocket were well steps to centralize cricket’s power in few countries, which directly affected the sport’s governing body’s ambition of making it a global game. 

When ICC decided to reduce the number of teams for the 2019 World Cup to 10 from the pre-existing 14, they cited the lack of viewership as the reason for the same. However, the fact is the last two World Cups shattered overall viewing records and the 2015 event was hailed by the ICC as "the most popular ever", points to the fact that it was hardly an issue. And if that was not enough, cricket’s biggest globalising tool, T20 cricket, is likely to expand to 12 in the main draw for Australia 2020, but the truth is, it lacks ambition compared to other sports.

Football, the most-followed sports in the world, has a 32-team World Cup and is looming to make it a 48-team event. Similarly, the Basketball World Cup has 32 countries, the Rugby World Cup is long-established as 20 teams and the World Baseball Classic has a 16-team competition. Even an indigenous sport like Kabbadi also has a World Cup of 12 teams. 

But in cricket, due to ICC's love for elites and the attempt to make the sport a basis of meritocracy, the associates suffer the most and ICC’s one stupid step after another have devoid the cricket world from some glorious tales. Remember Ireland knocking out Pakistan in 2007 World Cup? You better do. And that is exactly the reason why ICC’s decision to give a total of 104 countries’ T20I matches international status and the expansion of ICC ODI ranking table came as a breath of fresh air.

Netherlands secured the ODI status last year after winning the ICC World Cricket League Championship, whereas Scotland, Nepal and the UAE earned their ODI statuses by finishing as the top three Associates nations in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018. So as to determine the points, those matches which were played between May 1, 2015, and April 30, 2017, were weighted at 50 percent and the matches played after May 1, 2017, have been weighed at 100 percent. As a result, Scotland (28 points) sit at the 13th position and the UAE (18 points) occupy the 14th position and given these four teams will play cricket among each other now, and the perk of international matches will also inspire many players to pick up the sport. 

Consider this for a moment. The world's arguably best spinner in T20s at the moment, Rashid Khan belongs to Afghanistan, a country that just received its Test status and the likes of Sandeep Lamichhane and Mujeeb ur Rahman created ripples in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League and who will say that they don't deserve to play more and more quality matches. Sports fans, since eternity, have been a sucker for minnow tales and the expansion will bring out stories of years of hard work and toil, of gaiety and aspirations.  

And on that count, while the ICC's recent step was a way forward, this also needs to be backed up by some truly important things like the movement to include cricket in the Olympic Games in the future. For example, let’s take a look at golf for example. After rugby rejoined the Games last year, the sport is now on the curriculum in Brazil, China, and the USA, and national Olympic federations spent over $30 million in preparation for the Games and this is a microcosm of how the Olympics can help cricket's expansionism. 

But, with the two small, yet radical, steps in the last two months, the game has absolutely taken a step forward and therein lies the catch. To promote the game at the world level, the time has come for everyone to start doing their bits. 

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