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    The MCC World Cricket Committee has released statements following their meeting in Cape Town, South Africa
The MCC World Cricket Committee has released statements following their meeting in Cape Town, South Africa
The MCC World Cricket via lords.org

The MCC World Cricket Committee has released statements following their meeting in Cape Town, South Africa

The World Cricket Committee (WCC) of the MCC met in Cape Town last week for the first of two meetings scheduled for the 2024 edition.

The SA20 league and its commissioner, Graeme Smith, generously hosted the committee at one of the competition's final group games at Newlands, following two days of meetings. The committee also visited the Catch Trust cricket programme in Khayelitsha, an initiative in partnership with the MCC Foundation, which features South Africa's first artificial cricket pitch in the township and provides facilities and coaching for local children.

The meeting took place shortly after two exciting men's Test matches in Brisbane and Hyderabad. These matches thrilled supporters of the Test match format, but also left them disappointed that there was no possibility of a third match decider in the Australia v West Indies two-match series. To support the ongoing Test cricket and preserve the traditional format of the game, the WCC suggests that the men's Test series should consist of at least three matches starting from the next ICC Future Tours Programme (FTP) in 2028.

The WCC acknowledges that the recent media rights deal for broadcasting ICC events from 2024-2027 presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for global cricket over the next four years. However, it is evident that despite the significant capital injection, doubts remain about whether it will result in tangible universal gain. While some have prospered, many full and associate members are struggling.

This gap is widening and, if left unaddressed, will affect the playing and development programmes of the less affluent, potentially leading to a greater disparity of competitiveness. The World Cricket Council (WCC) suggests that the International Cricket Council (ICC) full member nations adopt a more collaborative approach to ensure that this period ends with the global game in the best possible health.

Funding

With short-term financial certainty guaranteed, full and associate members can expect stable distributions until the end of the current cycle. Beyond this period, however, the game may face challenges in maintaining this level of investment. This is due to an expected more constrained media rights market.

Due to these upcoming challenges, the global game must be cautious with its spending to prioritise current strategic objectives while also future-proofing the game's growth targets and financial health.

The WCC has questioned whether enough of this new revenue has been directly allocated to strategic growth imperatives. The committee was pleased to learn of the ICC's decision to establish a strategic fund during its July 2023 meeting. While applauding the full members for their vision, the committee expressed concern about the adequacy of funding for women's cricket at both the competition and development levels. Women's cricket is strategically important for the growth of the game, and it must receive sufficient funding across the board.

The committee restates its call for ICC full member nations to allocate a significant portion of their enhanced four-year ICC distributions to support the development of women's cricket.

In addition, to ensure that future core funding is earmarked for specific strategic purposes, the Committee proposes the introduction of greater accountability for general distributions allocated directly to full member nations.

New emerging markets

Cricket owes a debt of gratitude to India, whose insatiable thirst for the sport has driven the wealth of the global game. However, the game's reliance on India highlights the need to identify new markets to ensure its continued global growth. This is especially important given the uncertainty surrounding media rights beyond the current cycle.

Given this uncertainty and the momentum generated by this year's ICC Men's T20 World Cup in the USA and Caribbean, as well as the build-up to the 2028 Olympics in the USA, it seems natural to consider accelerating the growth of cricket in the USA.

Tour revenue sharing model

The World Cricket Council (WCC) has long been aware of the global economic imbalance in the game, which is detrimental to touring teams. These teams bear the cost of travel, while all revenue is retained by the host body based on a historical expectation of 'quid pro quo' touring arrangements. As evidence emerges of this model creating inequalities, the committee calls for its reconsideration. An analysis should be conducted on the impact of home teams absorbing touring team costs as a way of redistributing income and providing greater context for future bilateral cricket. This should be part of a broader audit of the current costs of the international game, as called for in the previous WCC meeting in July 2023.

The committee believes that the current FTP creates an unfair imbalance by limiting the availability of valuable content to certain nations during specific calendar windows. Starting from the next cycle in 2028, it would be better to distribute matches more equitably to provide all nations with a balanced opportunity to access key dates and opponents.

UNFCCC Framework for Action on Climate Change in Sport

During the WCC meeting held in July 2023 at Lord's, updates on the progress made since the last meeting were presented. Pat Cummins also joined the meeting to discuss the significance of cricketing nations joining the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action Framework. In October 2022, MCC signed the Framework, which aims to support and guide sports clubs/bodies in achieving global climate change goals. 

The committee was pleased to note several initiatives that have been implemented since then, including the addition of more cricketing bodies to the framework, such as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). The committee reiterates its stance that more home boards should follow suit.

Kumar Sangakkara, Chair of WCC, stated that it was time for bold leadership and unified vision for the global game. While the opportunities for cricket are great, the challenges are equally significant and there needs to be a greater sense of collegiality among full members and all stakeholders for cricket to thrive.

MCC's new event, World Cricket Connects, aims to bring together the most prominent thinkers and influencers in the global game to reflect on the current state of play and openly debate possibilities for the game's advancement.

The WCC is optimistic about the potential benefits for the game, but there must be no further delay in implementing the suggestions outlined in these statements.  

The members of the committee are listed below. MCC President Mark Nicholas also attended the meeting:

Kumar Sangakkara - Chair
Suzie Bates
Clare Connor
Kumar Dharmasena
Sourav Ganguly
Jhulan Goswami
Heather Knight
Justin Langer
Eoin Morgan
Ramiz Raja
Ricky Skerritt
Graeme Smith

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