With the ICC annual conference set to begin in Barbados on Monday, former vice-president of Canada Cricket, Howard Petrook has accused the world governing body of short-sightedness as far as growing the sport among the associate member countries was concerned.
Hitting out at ICC, Petrook said the world governing body was not serious about making cricket an Olympic sport, which would have helped them get more sanctions from the government.
"Time and again the ICC fails to help countries like not only Canada but Ireland, Holland and Scotland. It’s not me who says so, everybody in the associate countries will tell you that. They have Bangladesh and Zimbabwe as Full Members but they aren’t strong countries.
"A Full Member gets about 20-30 million USD a year. Give that money to Ireland or Canada and I absolutely guarantee you in five years we would be beating those smaller Test countries," Petrook, who is the chairman of cricket at the Toronto’s iconic Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, told PTI in an interview here.
"Ireland are a good cricketing country and how does they grow from here. What’s the path for them to become a Test country? Well nobody knows! What more do they have to do?" he asked ahead of tomorrow’s ICC’s annual meeting in the West Indies, where delegates from over 50 ICC Member countries are expected to gather.
He also claimed that the ICC was not in "favour" of including cricket in Olympics.
"They (Canada Cricket) gets about 400-500,000 a year but it’ not enough, what they need is about 3 million. If they really cared about cricket, then why it is not an Olympic sport? The IOC had invited them and ICC and the BCCI did not want it.
"It’s a very big deal for Canada and the US. If it is an Olympic sport, you get a lot more government funding than a non-Olympic sport."
There may be less than 300 archers in Canada but being an Olympic sport they still get about one and half million dollars per year.
"I would be amazed to see 300 archers all over the country but still they get one million and half! Rugby, which has now become an Olympic sport, gets about 2 million."
"If ICC really cared about cricket, why not help it become an Olympic sport?" he asked
In a country that has about 2.5 million South Asian population, cricket in Canada is quite popular and one of the fastest growing sports, and Petrook claimed ICC would make more money here than any other place.
"If the ICC makes cricket successful in North America there’s more money here than the rest. There’s more TV dollars, more seats in the stadiums. So make the party bigger and you will have more choices, more TV revenues.
"We have more cricket leagues than they do in NZ, Zimbabwe and West Indies most probably. On any given weekend, 120-200 teams play in greater Toronto. It’s the fastest growing sport in the schools in this province. There’s not a decline in participation but a certain decline in standards and discipline."
Citing the example of US giants ESPN’s acquisition of leading cricket portal Cricinfo in 2007, he said: "Why did ESPN buy Cricinfo? Because they knew cricket has a huge demand in North America.
"When they had the World Cup the second highest hits was from the North America. The online readership also goes through the roof when World Cup is played. That tells you there’s a market. There’s enough interest among the expats in North America to fill the stadium.
"Playing numbers are huge in Canada, mostly South Asians.
"The amount of money that is allocated between full members and the associates is not appropriate. ICC is the employee of full members. The full members tell ICC about what to do. India, Australia and England really take the biggest portion of the pie and they leave the rest for everybody else," Petrook said.
He added, "This amount of money does not generate from its own resources but in a country like Holland or Ireland they can drive from anywhere in just two hours. The main problem in a country like Canada is under funding."
The lack of seriousness on ICC’s part naturally does not inspire the government to take the sport seriously.
"The federal govt ignores that cricket is of growing significance. It has its rules. When they see even ICC is not supporting us why should they? It’s frustrating.
"If they really cared about growing cricket around the world they would put money more into developing cricket around the world. ICC has time and time again proved that it’s not serious about growing cricket around the world," he reiterated.
The success of Indian Premier League seemed to be a ray of hope for cricket in Canada, Petrook said.
Petrook, who was involved in arranging sponsorship for Canada, said if they can bring a North American Premier League things would change dramatically.
Terming IPL as the future of cricket, he said: "IPL has turned cricket into a business. It generates its own funds, sales tickets, its own TV rights.
"To have a league like that in North America is to get something like the IPL to come over here. The money is here.
Maybe IPL comes to North America and create a North American Premier League. What it would do is it would involve South Asian businessmen in India and North America to create a sort of franchises.
"It would work with the support of BCCI. If we could get the right kind of support, a league like that could be done here," he signed off.