Thursday, April 7, 2011
With all the attention payed to "cricket diplomacy" in the India-Pakistan semi-final match of the recently completed cricket World Cup as well as India's winning the cup and the Indian Premier League nearly here, some diplomatic fallout of a recent International Cricket Council (ICC) decision on the 2015 World Cup has not yet reached full flame. But it will intensify over time because it's screwing a number of nations' cricket programs. For those of you not into sports, I'll get to the point - this isn't a sport blog after all.
Basically the ICC has determined that only the 10 full members of the ICC will be permitted to play in the 2015 World Cup, blocking all associate and affiliate members from qualifying. Granted, the associate members haven't faired terribly well in the few World Cups they have been allowed to play in (with the notable exception of Ireland), but for the top six associate/affiliate members (who are ICC sanctioned to play the ODI format) it means that they'll lose tons of money and experience that their programs desperately need to even hope to ever become full members. In spite of the fact that a couple of the full members (specifically Zimbabwe and possibly Bangladesh) aren't any better than most of the associate/affiliate members.
So what does this have to do with the issues we normally discuss here at Ink Spots? Quite simply, this really screws Afghanistan's team at a time when that country really needs some good news. I've written before about some of Afghanistan's recent cricket successes and while sports will not change conduct of the conflict their home is experiencing, the ICC is dashing one of the few shining lights (however minor in the grand scheme of things) of present-day Afghanistan. Admittedly, Afghan success in a World Cup will not bring peace or even full test status or revenue from ticket and television sales. But among cricket-playing nations, cricket and politics go hand in hand. Last year's IPL draft nearly caused significant political problems on the Subcontinent. This decision in itself exemplifies this - it appears to be taken mainly to protect the two weakest members of the ICC.
The ICC is a club - not the WTO or the G20 or the UNSC - but it's a club. A club that a lot of nations want to be a part of, because it does come with benefits outside cricket (for example, Zimbabwe's return to test cricket was seen as acceptance of that nation's regime by ICC member nations). While no one knows if Afghanistan would have even qualified for the 2015 World Cup, they won't even have that chance now and all because the ICC is looking after its own. In any case, this is screwing them and if there's one thing Afghanistan doesn't need it's getting screwed in yet another way.