Cricket is said to be the second most popular game after football. How? because it is popular in the subcontinent which represents around 20% of the world population, but if we see no of countries it is really popular in it's just a handful- Around 10. This is really dangerous for cricket. If it's limited to such a small no of nations the chances of the game withering out are quite high. Hence there is a urgent need by the governing bodies to diversify the game into more nations, have more powerhouses and money centers for the game.
But first of all why is cricket limited to so less a nations. Cricket as a game was originated in England and taken by English wherever they went. Hence initially long time back Canada and US also played, but after the civil war the game withered away in US. In Canada as the game was quite dependent on rivalry with US, with fall of US cricket was a fall of Canadian cricket too. Meanwhile the game Spread to Australia, then New-Zealand, West Indies. In 1930's India was added as the Test nation. Around 50's Pakistan was added. Due to apartheid South Africa was soon banned from Cricket. Until this time the ICC was Imperial Cricket Council and not International!!! Practically cricket was not even expected to be played outside commonwealth. Hence for so many years the game was limited to a few nations. When the first world cup happened there were only 6 test nations (Power Houses) and the rest 2 nations qualified. Over time in each decade only 1 team has been added- Sri Lanka in 80's, Zimbabwe in 90's & Bangladesh in 2000's. South Africa was allowed to return in 91 World Cup. At this rate of 1 team being added we are loosing teams also. Zimbabwe greatly lost due to political and economical instability. Bangladesh is very slowly picking up. West Indies level of cricket is going down. If something radical is not done then the game would be limited to a handful of nation like American Football. Hence a great need to New Power Houses
The funda of developing power houses should be simple
1. Either the nation has the capability of build a good cricket team which will be able to sustain itself
2. The country can be a source of additional monetary income and with additional help the country can be built into a performing team
3. The country has great no of expats who vigorously follow the game and would be very keen to be a part of it.
4. Combination of any 2
Under these lets look at the possible teams according to the 5 development zones of ICC
This is one of the most promising teams who have home grown talent. In fact they have been loosing talent regularly to England. In recent times they have virtually won all the tournaments. besides that they performed very nicely in World Cup defeating test sides of Pakistan and Zimbabwe. They have been putting forward a case for Test Status. With more development on local league structure and infra they surely can put forward a case in 2 3 years for Test Status
They have been playing cricket along with England for a long time. They played ass a part in England team until breaking off in 1992. They have been able qualify for World Cup in 1999 & 2007 and also for 20-20 WC.They finished 5th in ICC's Trophy just missing the berth in 2011 WC, but gaining a ODI Status till 2011. They have been able to gain some exposure by playing against visiting teams in England at regular interval. A great regional rivalry exists between Ireland, Scotland & Netherlands in European cricket.
Along with Ireland and Netherlands are one of the 3 heavyweights in Europe as well as in the Tier 2 cricket nations. They have 3 times qualified for World Cup in 96, 03 & 07 and will play again in 11 WC also. The team definitely has shown performance and has been performing decently in the ICC WCL.
Denmark showed a great potential specially during 80's. They were the semi finalists in the ICC trophy each time loosing to future test nations Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. They were also one of the top 6 associate's hence invited to ICC's Emerging Nations Tournaments. There performance however has got some challenge by other Europeans heavyweights coming into cricket such as Ire and Scot besides new countries like UAE, Afg just to add to the list. But the game of cricket definitely has a lot of potential and promise and Denmark definitely can progress in field of cricket.
UAE are one of the most successful non test playing teams, who have won most of the ACC trophies. Initially UAE attracted a lot of Class A players from South Asia and formed quite a competitive. Though this was not a fair way to build a team and hence ICC changed rules to have a min number of passport holders and other expats. Allowing non passport holders to play for a country is criticized by many but people should realize that more than 60% of UAE's population is expat.
UAE also has been able to produce state of the art infrastructure. It has hosted all of the Test Playing nations at it's famous venue of Sharjah and the stadiums never went empty. The Infrastructure is definitely better than test nations like Bangladesh. ICC should change certain rules and include 60% Expat population in the cricket team.
Afghanistan has been in news for their rapid rise in international cricket. They kept winning from bottom of the divisions in WCL to reach the world cup qualifiers just narrowly missing qualification but gaining ODI status. The most amazing thing about the Afghan team is that all the members are natives to the country, local boys and not people of Test Nation's origin. Help from neighbors like Pakistan, India, SL or BD would be great help in building the team. Also cricket can be a source of bringing back a country who have been battered by 3 decades of war and a generation lost to it. Cricket can really work for this nation and a strong test team born out of it.
Cricket is the fastest growing sport in Nepal. The team has done very good in the ACC tournaments with finishing runner up. Also the youth team has done really well in the youth world cup. They were able to defeat 3 test teams and won the Plate Group. Incredible performance and shows the future. The popularity of Cricket was visible with the attendance for WCL Div 5 held in Nepal. The crowds were there to cheer the home team for every match. A strong influence of Cricket Crazy India has really helped develop the game. Many of the people who worked in India have brought back the game. With help of other South Asian team, this can be like Afghanistan, a team of great promise.
D HONG KONG
Cricket was introduced to Hong Kong by the British. It has one of the oldest clubs in Asia. They have been the finalist of ACC trophy and have had the chance to play 2 Asia Cups. Hong Kong Sixes was also a really successful tournament any Associate has been able to host. Innovation would be the key. The challenge would be to be more reliant on the local population rather than Pakistani or Indian origin people. With introduction of cricket to China and efforts to expand it there can be really helpful to get a more wider base for the game.
Like Hong Kong cricket was introduced by the British. Malaysia has been host to many Asian level tournaments. Malaysian team has had some good performances. Cricket was also hosted in multi sports event at Malaysia in the CW Games. The biggest challenge would be to expand cricket to people of Malay and Chinese origin which is presently limited to people of Indian Origin. With expansion of cricket and good initiative like IPL and 20 20, cricket can definitely spread in the country
They are recent entrants into the big boys arena. Like UAE they are also quite dependent upon expats. They have performed really good at the ACC trophies with once finishing runners up and qualifying for Asia Cup only to know that cup was scrapped. They have had some decent performances. The large expat population along with local are really getting into the game. With the money around they can definitely make way into the Super boys.
They are the most known and successful of the Associate's. They have been the world cup semi finalist in 2003 world cup. They were on the verge of gaining test status. Lately some issues with contract have been troubling the performance. But overall the team has got great promise and along with likes of Ireland, Afghanistan will be the ones to gain test status. The biggest challenges are the contract and discipline issues of player and also that cricket is limited to big cities and the clubs there. For the team to be even more successful it needs to be spread even beyond the cities.
I hope to see this team as the 11th Test team
Namibia is a team which is formed by the natives. The height of it's performance was when it played the world cup in Africa at South Africa in 2003. The team has though not been able to repeat it performance. They are a part of the top associate with playing for Inter Continental Shield Tournament. South Africa and Zimbabwe have been helping the Namibians by allowing them to play in the domestic tournaments. ICC's continued focus on associate's would definitely help this team to develop
They are another bright spot in world cricket. They had played in world cup as a part of East African team. They have recently really improved in their performance. They had qualified for ICC Trophy. Now they are a part of Inter Continental Shield. The youth development program has really worked for the nation. They already contain a lot of native players. With the improved performances Uganda surely will become a force to recon with in international cricket.
They were the first country to play international cricket with a match against USA. At one time cricket was the most popular game. It was propelled by the rivalry against USA. However since being closed outside commonwealth and anti British feeling in USA, cricket declined there. Due to decline in USA the Canada USA matches also lost steam. This also resulted in decline of game in Canada.
However after immigration from Sub Continent and Caribbean the game has started to bounce back. After 1979 Canadian team again took part in 2003 World Cup after a gap of 24 years. Domestic level cricket has started to prosper in the nation. 20 20 also provides a opportunity to expand it further.
As already said Cricket was once really popular in USA. In fact founding father George Washington is said to be a big fan of cricket. He used cricket to defend the word Governor. There was a great rivalry with Canada and many English and Australian teams had toured the nation. However after formation of Imperial Cricket Council Cricket was limited to Commonwealth. Also in between civil war and World War 2, baseball really picked up and cricket was lost.
As was the case with Canada, cricket was revived with immigrants coming in. 20 20 Cricket has also provided a great boost to cricket, with many efforts at a IPL style league. ICC is also interested in expanding the game due the huge amount of money. Some bad administration definitely caused some hiccups but everything is coming back on track. Around 2011, a 20 20 league of international players is also proposed. Fingers are crossed for all the great efforts and hope cricket makes a comeback in USA
Cricket is the most popular game in Bermuda. Even though Bermuda just has a population of fifty thousand still the country has managed to qualify for the world cup. The country has seem some decline due to low population. A good way in my opinion for Bermuda is to either become a part of West Indies or along with countries like Bahamas, Turk and Cacous Islands (Who already have cricket teams as part of ICC) and Cuba, Dominica and other Caribbean nations form a West Indies 2 or Caribbean team.
A PAPUA NEW GUINEA
They dominate the EAP region. They have a team made of all indigenous people. Cricket is also one of the popular sports though much behind Rugby or Soccer. Recently support for the team has been extended by Australia. The foundation is very good. Help from countries like Australia can really take this team to great heights
Cricket was introduced by the colonial master to the nations. Cricket has got tough competition from Rugby which is most popular. The team has been at a constant level. To develop cricket Fiji can really lead efforts to form a Oceania team or a Pacific Team. Another form of Cricket "Kilikit" is really popular in Polynesia. Polynesia includes of many nations like Samoa, American Samoa, Tuvalu,Cook Islands,French Polynesia. Besides this many other pacific nations have teams. Cricket is a part of South Pacific games. A team based on West Indies model can really develop into a great team. Already there are many regional level co ordination going between the Oceania nations. Australia is a major contributor to this co ordination. Cricket can also be introduced and can come out as a real bond.
Besides this some other nations like Argentina, Jersey, Guernsey, Tanzania, Botswana has shown some potential. When the game spreads many of the larger nation has the foundation and will quickly catch up. Smaller nations like Jersey or Guernsey should look into the West Indies model and come as combined great forces. I hope in next 10 years at least 10 new power houses come into cricket