Dubai, Feb 11 : The International Cricket Council on Tuesday released the 2019 Associate Member census figures that show a huge leap in the amount of cricket being played around the world. The decision by the ICC Board to award international status to all T20 matches between Members in 2018 and the introduction of global rankings in the format has had a transformative impact across the sport.
2019 saw a 110 per cent increase in the number of Associate Members women’s bilateral T20 matches compared to 2018, whilst men’s T20 matches rose by 34% with 71 of the 92 Associate Members participating in T20I cricket. 49 men’s teams played their first T20I whilst 29 women’s teams debuted in the format, making this the largest growth moment for the sport at Associate level to date.
The introduction of meritocratic pathways to ICC global events has also supported the growth of the game with 23 global, regional and sub-regional events being held in 2019 in which 40 Members competed, thanks to an investment of more than $5 million from the ICC. Three Associate Members will play in their first ICC World Cup in 2020 as a result of these pathway events; Japan and Nigeria competed at the recently concluded U19 Cricket World Cup, whilst history makers Thailand will compete at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia later this month.
Remarkably, the 11 Associate Member teams that have qualified for ICC World Cups in 2020 hail from 10 different countries – further demonstrating the improved competitiveness of international cricket. 99 Associate Member players have broken into the T20I player rankings; 25 male and 23 female batters and 30 male and 21 female bowlers were in the top 100 as of December 2019. At the grassroots of the sport in Associate Member countries, participation has increased by 14% year on year whilst the growth in the number of women and girls playing has risen by 13%. ICC General Manager Development William Glenwright said, “We are committed to growing cricket globally and we clearly identified T20 as the vehicle through which to do this.
Awarding international status to every T20 match between Members, introducing global rankings and new minimum standards to make it as easy as possible for Members to play international cricket in a sustainable and affordable way were decisions we took with our minds focused on transformative growth." “This combined with 23 global qualifying events that give Members more opportunities to play more cricket and the $31.8 million investment in direct funding to Members last year is clearly paying off at both the international and grassroots ends of the participation pathway," he said. “We are incredibly proud of what our Members have achieved during 2019 and credit must go to every Member who seized the opportunity presented to them to accelerate the growth of our game in their respective territories.
There is increasing engagement in the Associate world from fans too, with 128 million digital video views for ICC qualifying events in 2019 and more than 80 million views for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in October last year. I believe this is testament to the increased competitiveness we are seeing globally," Glenwright said. “We are now focusing our attention on how we better enable our Members to continue this growth sustainably - with a number of exciting programs due to launch in 2020, including a schools-based entry level program and our restructured coach and umpire education program. These programs, built on insights from comprehensive global research, will ensure that Members are delivering a fun, engaging and challenging cricket experience for participants at every stage of the pathway,” he added. (UNI)