ICC welcomes three new members as cricket officially becomes the second most popular sport on earth

Published on: Aug 29, 2021

There was a time not so long ago when cricket was seen as a largely closed club, contested by half a dozen or so nations. If you weren’t from England, Australasia, the Indian Subcontinent, South Africa or the Caribbean, the chances are you wouldn’t even know what the game was about.

How times have changed. International broadcasting rights, web streaming and online sports betting have all served to bring cricket to an international audience. Yes, of course football is still number one, and even in cricket-mad India, soccer betting sites like https://sportsbetting.net.in/football/ get no shortage of traffic. But cricket has now overtaken hockey to take the number two slot, with global viewing figures of 2.5 billion.

Cricket’s global appeal

Cricket has a reputation for being highly traditional, and even a little staid, with the images of cucumber sandwiches and fleeing for shelter at the slightest hint of rain. Yet while test cricket still remains the pinnacle of the game, and retains those traditional aspects, cricket has done more to reinvent itself and appeal to new audiences than ever before.

Of course, T20 is a prime example. Before its invention, the idea of a meaningful cricket match being played out in as little as three hours would have been laughable. Now there is The Hundred. As was the case with T20, the new format has had its detractors, but after just one trial season in the UK, it is clearly doing a power of goodfor promoting women’s cricket.

New members welcomed

Anything that makes a sport accessible to half the human population whose exposure was previously limited can only be a good thing. But cricket’s new found global popularity is not just about new formats and new demographics. It is also a result of constantly welcoming new members into the fold.

The forthcoming T20 World Cup is, of course, likely to feature the usual suspects in the final stages, but the group stages will include teams like Papua New Guinea, Namibia and the co-hosts Oman. Ireland will also be in the mix, and we have seen in previous tournaments how they are capable of pulling off a shock win against anyone.

Future tournaments will be even more competitively fought out, as the ICC continues to welcome new members. Only last month, at the ICCs 78th Annual General Meeting, three new associate members were formally announced. Mongolia and Tajikistan represent the 22nd and 23rd ICC members in the Asia region, while the arrival of Switzerland takes the total number of European members to 35.

It means that there are now 106 ICC members. William Glenwright is the ICC General Manager in charge of development. He commented on the commitment that the new members have shown to developing the game, particularly in the case of women’s cricket and youth leagues.

It’s been a tough few months for all sports, but for cricket, all eyes are on the future – and things have never looked brighter.