Reader Rich Wilkinson recently sent me in this question:
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Rich raises a very interesting point.
If you park that fact that Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is less corrupt, Sepp Blatter has lead FIFA through a period where global growth has been a cornerstone of his rule.
In fact, under his tutelage, football has grown in Asia and Africa like never before.
Now, the wise owls reading this will allege that this has occurred only to allow for the farming of votes for his re-election. In the FIFA system, every country that is a member has an equal vote. They don’t suffer from elitist concepts such as Full Member, Associate or ODI Status.
However, this system brings with it both advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s now swing the conversation back to cricket.
Its expansionist goals are non existent. One could quite plausibly argue that its goals are in fact contractionary.
Where the world game gives every member nation an equal ability to have a say, cricket has chosen a path of centralising power and decision making into the hands of three nations. Indian, Australia and England. The IC3.
Furthermore, it has created and is defending a system that refutes the desires of other nations to officially compete and play the game.
This concept has been widely reported on, especially through the latest World Cup. I suggest that the upcoming release of the film ‘Death of a Gentleman‘ will ensure that it owns the narrative through the 2015 Ashes as well.
The ICC situation is worth a revisit.
Srinivasan is likely to lose his position as ICC Chairman come September. His co-conspirator Giles Clarke still lurkes in the corridors as the ECB President. A role created just to appease a single man’s ego. However, the function of this role is to represent the ECB at the ICC and allow Clarke a pathway to its Chairmanship. Australia’s Wally Edwards is described by Lalit Modi as nothing more than a puppet and a guy coming along for the ride.
Therefore, it doesn’t take too much of an adventurous mind to suggest that with some strong leadership at Cricket Australia and the BCCI, that things could change. We could see the ICC steer the ship back towards opening up cricket for the masses once again.
This would of course by battled by Giles Clarke. Anything that possibly dilutes ECB power or TV revenues must not be allowed to gather momentum.
However, the most stupid thing is that basic economic law explains that where demand increases, so does the price.
Currently, only 14 nations in the world have an official ranking in any form of the game. In football, 209 countries have a ranking.
In the ICC world, a country has to jump through a series of steps to be able to play an official game.
To even become an Affiliate, a country has to prove they can meet a certain amount of criteria, such as having 2 grounds available for play, a junior program in place and at least 8 senior local teams.
In the FIFA world, all you need to do is kit out a squad and enter them into the correct tournament. It is possible that last placed Anguilla could play first ranked Germany. Not likely, but possible. It would be officially sanctioned. They would be playing for rankings points. It would be a whitewash. No one would care. The records would stand.
In cricket, Ireland can’t even play Afghanistan in an official Test match, despite the fact both won games at the most recent ODI World Cup.
So, back to the question.
Would Sepp Blatter be good for cricket?
The answer most surely is yes.
Any administrator that decentralises power opens the door of opportunity to newer and less powerful nations to become involved.
Ok, their vote may be bought, but at least they have a vote to sell. And where someone has a vote, participation increases. Interest increases. More people play the game. More money is generated in the game. TV rights increase. Competitions increase. The standard of the product increases.
As I write, 53,000 people are watching Canada host China in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. It is the biggest crowd ever to attend a sporting event in Canada. Football has been opened up to the world and look at the results.
The irony that Test cricket is the hardest game to qualify to play for, yet is the one dying the fastest death should be lost on no one.
So Sepp. We welcome you with open arms. Please, bring the USA into cricket like you have with football. I want to watch it on ESPN. Not just read it on Cricinfo.
Please Sepp, let’s have the Brazilians and Chinese and Spanish and Cameroon all playing Test cricket.
Sepp, Indonesia would love to start a T20 league. Can you make it happen?
It is all so simple.
This Version of this Article was Reproduced with Permission at The Roar