x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

India is power base of world cricket

The former New Zealand player, Chris Cairns, suggests how the game can best be developed as a global sport.

I always thought of cricket columnists as people with too much time on their hands. Bearded blokes with frumpy suits and mismatched shoes. So to write this article I have remained unshaven, have my worst suit on and donned a pair of brown suede shoes. I now feel in good shape to give you my cricketing opinions.

Each week I shall look to spark debate on this great game of ours. What will be on these pages? Well, your guess will is as good as mine at this stage but I hope you will enjoy it and it would be great to get your feedback. There is currently so much going on in the world game, so much to discuss and because we now have every game beamed in to our living rooms nothing escapes us. Gosh, I remember only a decade-and-a-half ago that a series in the Caribbean could only be viewed in the sports bit of the news.

Cricket is in my blood. My father, Lance, with the unique axe welding style that he called batting and the horrendous, wrong foot bowling action, was my initial inspiration. He was old school. Once, as we were having a throw around in the back yard when I was five, he pelted the ball back so hard that he knocked me off my feet and against the fence. Through eyes of cascading tears I saw my dad run to me and bend down to help me up.

I was greeted with a gruff, bear-like delivery of: "Come on, harden up it's not that bad." I got to my knees and managed to stem the bleeding with my right hand as my left hand placed my small intestines back in their rightful place. I must say that father never saw me play until I was about nine years old. Whether it was a strategic ploy to allow me to do my own thing or maybe he just could not be bothered, it worked. I never felt pushed and I have adopted this own ploy with my two sons, Thomas and Bram.

Tom was recently awarded a trophy for the best seven-year-old all-rounder in his school. Bram's not far behind but with a decidedly big kink in his bowling arm it may well be beyond the 15 degree threshold the Inter- national Cricket Council (ICC) impose. He is only six so I think we have time to rectify it. But their path will be determined by them. Once they know it is what they want to do they will have a father and grandfather who will support them wholeheartedly.

Well, that is enough about me and three generations of Kiwi sloggers and on to the state of world cricket. In most sports there will be a major force within the game. In cricket there is one real force: India. The country occupies such a presence within the game because of their financial clout and by this I mean generating some 70 per cent of the sport's monetary income. For example, New Zealand Cricket's entire four year business cycle is underpinned by the one tour India make to the land of the long white cloud during that period.

Any chance of New Zealand upsetting India in any way? Not likely unless they want to be competing against Fiji, Kazakstan and The Maldives on future tours. So how does the world cricket governing body function and what exactly is the ICC? Good questions. The ICC are an entity governed by a board of elected representatives from the top cricket playing nations. This democratically elected board govern the game and keep things where they should be.

But hang on, would that not mean India have the biggest say on how things go on this elected board? Umm .- yes. You see this is where it gets confusing. Who actually runs the game? The ICC or India? Effectively, they are the same thing. For me there needs to be an independent body responsible to grow the game. Cricket has the ability to settle under football as the world's second most popular sport.

There is the Champions Trophy, the World Twenty20 and the 50 over World Cup. T20 is the game to go global with, but growing the game globally is not on the minds of the top nations. Will this change? I do not think so because any change will have to come via a change to the constitution and this will have to be done by the board. With the power India have why would they want to dilute their position?

This is short sighted because to grow the game and bring in the likes of China, South America and Indonesia means significantly more eyes watching the game. A T20 World Cup competition in eight years time with 40 teams in should be cricket's goal. All current Test playing countries should be assigned a region and be responsible for their coaching and growth. While we need to bring players through it is more important that we coach the coaches so they spread the basics. Then we will have a truly global game and begin challenging football as the planet's most played game.

I also noted in the press the ICC was thinking of relocating from Dubai to London. Very interesting as there are many benefits from being in this region - ease of travel to member nations, tax benefits and the Global Cricket Academy at Dubai Sports City. Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said it would be prudent to do due diligence on this move. Could it be a thinly-veiled attempt at sowing the seed for a move to India? Watch this space.

London is likely to be ruled out because of the inability to have the Zimbabwe delegates granted a visa. So where else? That's right, Giles Clarke of the England & Wales Cricket Board suggested India as a possible destination. "All those in favour say aye". sports@thenational.ae