Few will disagree with the observation made by the CEO of the International Cricket Council, Haroon Lorgat, that cricket has emerged stronger and more diverse than ever before as it coped with substantial challenges over the century gone by. Speaking at the two-day ICC History Conference to commemorate 100 years of the world body’s existence Lorgat made it clear that the sport was resilient, strong and still developing. "Exploring the history of the ICC and cricket over the past 100 years has been a fascinating and educational experience," he said. "We have three formats, the ICC has more members than ever before – 104 of them – and within those members there are more people playing the game than at any time in our history," he added.
Being a very British game, cricket seemed designed for popularity in the Commonwealth countries. And indeed all the Test playing nations are members of the Commonwealth. But over the years in a bid to make the game popular all over the world the ICC has adopted a policy of globalization by which cricket is now played at various levels in over 100 countries. The 1993 edition of Wisden started a Cricket Round the World feature while the 2005 edition noted that "the inclusion of Congo, Jordan, Mali, North Korea and Peru this year take the total number of countries, regions and territories featured in the past 13 almanacs to 95 girdling the globe from Norway to Antarctica."
For all the criticism levied against the ICC, there is no denying the fact that it has lived up to its mission statement: "The ICC will lead by promoting the game as a global sport, protecting the spirit of cricket and optimizing commercial opportunities for the benefit of the game." The ICC is world cricket’s governing body and is responsible for managing the playing conditions for international fixtures, expanding the game and organizing the major international tournaments including the World Cup. Ten national governing bodies are currently full members of the ICC. Full membership qualifies a nation to play official Test matches. A candidate for full membership must meet a number of playing and administrative criteria after which elevation is decided by vote among existing full members. There are also about 30 associate members (non-Test playing nations or geographic areas where cricket is firmly established and organized) and some 60 affiliate members (countries where the ICC recognizes that cricket is played in accordance with the Laws). The globalization process is currently in full swing.
A centenary is an occasion to celebrate and the ICC can look back with pride on its accomplishments. The ICC was founded in 1909 as the Imperial Cricket Conference by three Foundation members – England, Australia and South Africa. England and Australia had played the first-ever Test match in 1877 and South Africa joined the fraternity in 1889. Other countries became full members and thus acquired Test match status as follows: West Indies (1928), New Zealand (1930), India (1932), Pakistan (1952), Sri Lanka (1982), Zimbabwe (1992) and Bangladesh (2000). South Africa ceased to be a member on leaving the Commonwealth in 1961 but was re-elected as a full member in 1991.
By the 60s the world had changed considerably with many of the former countries under colonial rule gaining their independence. The word 'Imperial' seemed no longer in keeping with the times and in 1965 the Conference was renamed the International Cricket Conference. It was about this time that the need to broaden the base of the game was felt and consequently new rules were framed permitting the election of countries from outside the Commonwealth for the first time. The first associate members, Fiji and USA, who had diluted voting rights were admitted. However Foundation members retained a veto over all resolutions.
In 1989, the Conference was again renamed without changing its initials. The new International Cricket Council adopted revised rules aimed at producing an organization that could make a larger number of binding decisions rather than simply make recommendations to national governing bodies. In 1993 the ICC which had previously been administered by the MCC gained its own secretariat and chief executive though its headquarters remained at Lord’s. The category of Foundation Member was abolished and Sir Clyde Walcott became the first non-British chairman. He was succeeded by India’s Jagmohan Dalmiya who did much to fill the coffers of the ICC thanks to million dollar sponsorship and TV rights deals.
In 1997, the ICC became an incorporated body with an executive board and a president instead of a chairman and a chief executive to be appointed by the Council. Australia’s Dave Richards who had served as chief executive from 1993 was succeeded by another Australian Malcolm Speed in July 2001. The ICC remained at Lord’s with a commercial base in Monaco but by 2004 it was considering unifying its offices and moving to Dubai where it is believed there would be organizational and tax advantages. The move finally took place in 2005.
The ICC’s Code of Conduct which invokes the spirit of the game as much as the laws of cricket is a much appreciated document. The introduction of the mini World Cup (now the Champions Trophy) and the staging of the event in places like Dhaka and Nairobi and the fact that over the last 30 years countries like East Africa, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Holland, Namibia, Kenya, Ireland, Scotland, Bermuda and Bangladesh have been given an opportunity to play in the World Cup (the USA participated in the 2004 Champions Trophy in England) is proof that ICC’s process of globalization is a success. By broadening its base, by opening new vistas and avenues, by moving with the times (it was quick to gauge the popularity of Twenty20) and taking steps to eliminate its Feudal image, by appointing more former players to its various committees and by taking steps to build funds for the development of the game worldwide, the ICC has certainly upheld its mission statement.