“It never seems to be out of fashion to proclaim the imminent death of some element of the game, usually Test cricket, but sometimes cricket in a country or region. Test cricket, ODI cricket, West Indian cricket, Pakistan cricket – none will disappear very soon, but fewer and fewer people are turning up to watch. That is a huge problem, and if it continues, it will eventually lead to the game – or parts of it – dying.” Nigel Kerner
Nigel Kerner was born in Sri Lanka and is an author and journalist, writing on science, religion and philosophy while maintaining passions for cricket, rugby, wildlife and music.He undertakes voluntary work to help disadvantaged people in developing nations and you can download his full World Cricket Passport proposal by clicking here.www.nigelkerner.com It isn’t something that will be easily and quickly solved but one way of getting more crowds to watch the game, is to develop a ‘world cricket passport’, the brainchild of Nigel Kerner. Click here to download/read Nigel’s full proposal (PDF)
When Kerner first developed the idea in 2006 he wrote about how games at that year’s Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka were poorly attended. Ten years on, even matches at the recent ICC World T20 were not played out to full houses and outside of Australia, England, India and South Africa, Test cricket is rarely watched by thousands. The excellent Death Of A Gentleman film recently opened many peoples’ eyes to the direction the game has been taken in by those in charge and the consolidation of power among the ‘Big Three’ (Australia, England and India) at the top of the game. Few will argue this has been done for the greater good of the development of the game.
After his side had won the ICC World T20 in Kolkata, Darren Sammy publicly called out his board for “disrespecting” the team and giving them little support, and earlier in the tournament captains of the Associate nations used any platform they could to criticise their treatment at the hands of the ICC. And we have even seen rights holders taking legal action against media organisations trying to make information such as scores and updates available to the public (see STAR India vs Idea Cellular, Onmobile Global and Cricbuzz 2014).
Kerner wrote back in 2006 that “the new world of cricket is empty”, but is the future of the game empty? It shouldn’t be. Let us return to the world cricket passport, which Kerner calls a “stunning new hope for cricket”.
“The present structure and constitution of the ICC has no brief for what is proposed,” he says. “It will need a larger spread of responsibility, where its menu is extended to include bilateral control over certain indentures and debentures of members countries’ fixtures, including Test matches and have a supervisory and controlling role in certain fiscal matters relating to domestic club cricket where ICC funding is appropriate. This will apply to both Full Member countries and Affiliated Member countries.”
He adds that to make his proposal work, there will need to be an ICC office in each Full and Affiliated Member.
The proposal is for the ICC to create a single unit admission mechanism to all matches played under the auspices of any national governing body in the world – the world cricket passport.
World Cricket Passport – key steps
- ICC to establish a World Cricket Fund
- Pay $US 300m per annum to each Full Member board (10 in total)
- Pay $US 100m per annum to each Associate board (6 in total)
- Build at least one new cricket stadium per year
- Pay the top 15 Test players in each 10 Full Member countries a basic salary of $US 1m
- Pay an ICC stipend of $US 50,000 to the top 1,000 first-class cricketers (those outside of Test level) in the Full member countries
- Pay an ICC stipend of $US 10,000 to the top 100 players in Associate and Affiliate countries
- Pay an ICC future star scholarship stipend of $US 2,000 a year to 10,000 selected players under the age of 20 aroundn the world
- Pay $US 50m per annum to 16 Associate Member countries for cricket development and coaching purposes with the express goal of achieving a 32-team World Cup in the future
- Immediate implementation of a 32-country T20 World Cup
- Pay a stipend of $US 40,000 to 2,000 cricket-playing schools around the world
- Pay $US 100m to enable countries awarded World Cup staging rights to do this
- The reserve to be used for ICC administration purposes and to set up new competitions including a schools World Cup and an extension of the World Cricket League
Obviously these proposals and suggestions as to revenue splits are estimated, however, it gives you some idea of how the game could flourish and grow given the will and the means. Any holder of the passport will be granted the right to attend any ICC-administered cricket match in the world. The passport will grant admittance, free of any additional charge to: All Test matches, World Cup matches and all other matches controlled by national governing bodies.
The cost of the passport would not be excessive – even as low as $US6-7 – which would enable cricket fans everywhere in the world to be able to afford it.
Eighty per cent of spectator stand space at any ground would be reserved for passport holders with seat reservation available for a fee of 50 cents.
“It is absolutely essential that the poorest of the poor be able to afford the WCP, as the whole exercise is to try to involve every single cricket fan as a member of a world family centred on cricket, outside race, culture, ethnicity and most of all buying power,” Kerner adds. This would effectively lay the foundations to build an even bigger global cricket community by making it possible for anybody to go to a game and fall in love with the sport, thereby ‘catching’ the sort of people that would otherwise slip through the net.
The idea is that the future cricketers of the world are nominal equals in the support and enhancement of the great game.
A price of a few dollars would still provide enough money (more than $US 6 billion per year) due to the mass global appeal the game has – and at this price you won’t just attract the die-hards, but encourage casual fans and families to participate as well. Let’s imagine there is an excellent take-up and the world cricket passport generates $US 6 billion for the ICC. What happens to that money?
Over to Kerner to explain the breakdown: “The money should be equally divided among the Full member playing nations, after deduction for collection, running the Fund, advertising and various administration costs in-house are subtracted.”
The fund proposes to provide:
“US$ 300 million per annum to each of the Cricket Boards of the 10 countries with Full membership, for administrative staff costs and ground and cricket facility building, maintenance and general cricket promotion, coaching and development purposes and the staging of the various matches and competitions including the Test series.
“Affiliated and associate members of the ICC with the 10 highest attainment (ICC judged) signatures should be provided with stipends amounting to US$ 100 million per annum during this time for in-house cricket development purposes.
“This rate should continue for the first 10 years till the world setting of the game is transformed. It could then change in its disbursement ethos. It may be that countries with a higher player number base, seen pro rata against total population, should get more. It may be that allocations are requested as and when they are needed by nations and again granted on a pro rata basis, seen against in situ cricket facilities after suitable studies and results are inspected and approved.
“Where the national political needs conflict with the internationally aspected notional need, the ICC opinion, as the world body controlling the international game, should take precedence over the national ‘Ministries for Sport’, or the nation disqualified from participating in any world relevant scheme.”
One of the key aims of the world cricket passport is to enhance the current World Cup structure and enable up to 32 teams to participate.
Currently, only 12 teams will play at the 2019 50-over World Cup with just two places available for non-Test-playing nations – and that comes despite a successful appeal to keep the 2015 event at 14 countries. As so many other global sporting events are inviting more nations to take part, cricket contracting and erecting more and more barriers to increased participation.
What might a 32-team T20 World Cup look like right now?
Group A: India, Afghanistan, Oman, Uganda
Group B: West Indies, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Bermuda
Group C: New Zealand, Scotland, Namibia, Kuwait
Group D: England, Netherlands, Kenya, Saudi Arabia
Group E: South Africa, Zimbabwe, USA, Vanuatu
Group F: Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, Fiji
Group G: Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Jersey, Denmark
Group H: Sri Lanka, Ireland, Nepal, Italy
Although 16 teams are nominally involved in the ICC World T20, only 10 reach the Super 10s, and this is an area in which Cricket World have long been calling for expansion. As far back as the 2009 World T20, we felt the future of the tournament was to include 32 teams. “Twenty20 cricket offers the ICC the perfect opportunity to reach out to more countries and aid the development of the game,” we wrote.
Indeed, Head of Media and company founder Alastair Symondson followed this up and took a proposal for a 32-team World Cup with him to an ICC Europe event and received broad approval for the plan. “If it works for football and rugby then why should it not do the job for cricket?” we mused at the time.
It looks and feels like a win-win situation. The world cricket passport and ICC restructure would facilitate growing the game by allowing more people to watch, generate more interest and put that money back into the game which in turn should help all teams and players, creating a more viable and interesting sport for all concerned.
Furthermore, Kerner expects the proposal to make cricket one of the richest games in the world, and give it the means to survive without any need for outside funding or support. It will promote the game as a worthwhile career, save the game where participations are low and boost participation where levels are non-existent, encourage youngsters to get a closer view of the game by attending live matches, remove incentives for corruption, and equalise the haves with the have-nots.
And even though the world cricket passport will boost participation and increase numbers of people at the ground, what about the people who can’t aren’t there, and are trying to follow the sport using their laptops, mobile devices and smart devices? While it is perfectly fair that broadcasters like STAR India want to protect rights that they have paid millions for, should some of those rights even have been sold? It does seem that boards are trying to create a monopoly and take out all the “free data providers” so that fans can be charged unfair amounts for “subscriptions” to acquire the data – just like Formula 1.
As cricket matches are broadcast live in the public domain, surely the information is public and should be free to use? In the interest of free speech, news and information should not be monopolized. Fans not being able to access information on platforms of their choice will result in a loss of interest in the game and if access to the very information that fans want is prevented, restricted or hidden behind a paywall, it goes against the very idea of growing the game and the openness that the world cricket passport needs to thrive and develop the game.
Kerner to finish, concludes: “You the cricket fans out there are crucial in this quest. Whether you play the game currently or not, and you can appreciate its art and artisanship and you want to see your nation’s talent for it adequately reflected and provided for. If you believe in these proposals, or not – shout for cricket from the roof tops. I certainly will do that through every journalistic means at my disposal.
“There is a justified fear all over the world of cricket that it is slowly dying. To alter a great adage slightly – ‘It only requires good people to do nothing, for world cricket to slowly do the same.’
“Bang the drum, the bat and the ball worldwide, so that the cricketing talent of your own nation is maximally reflected in the world game. Bang it till the doors of your local Cricket Administrations open and through them the sleepy hollow the ICC sometimes seems, wakes up to the fact that you and your interests are the final and most important platform on which the game is set. As such they are there to serve you.
“Variety is the key. Each nation has its own cricket signature. Each signature has its own exciting value. Its own stride. Cricket must never be allowed to drift into a sameness that debilitates and bores its international tour de force through the strangling of its magnificent nuances. It will truly be ‘match over’ if this happens.”
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