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Straight Bat: The future of world cricket must include China

  • Published at 10:54 am July 14th, 2019
ICC Cricket World Cup trophy

Reports say that half of the tickets were bought by Indian fans in the UK who may not turn up at all

As the World Cup final match is about to be held, we are writing our semi-final column. I am old enough to have seen or followed all of them. But there has rarely, if ever, been a Cup final that elicited so little crowd interest in Bangladesh, and in South Asia.

It is we, the still not fully fed or clothed, who provide the Cup with the passion that makes it tick. However, none of the finalists are from our region. That is why everything else, including dengue fever and antibiotics in milk, sounds more interesting. 

Very few people care much about England or New Zealand. In fact, many did not even know that NZ is a country. Many thought it was a company that produces milk powder, sort of like Nestlé’s kid sister. But life can be a cruel teacher, forcing some to learn about a country of which no one bothers much.

Fans from NZ and ENG do and will battle it out Reports say that half of the tickets were bought by Indian fans in the UK who may not turn up at all at the stadium since India is missing after action. Appeals have been made to them to turn up or to return the tickets. 

From Europe to Asia

This shows that cricket has passed on to Asian hands, and it makes little sense to let the erstwhile colonizers be in charge of the game. Since the colonized play the game and have ten times more support and increasingly more money, the cricket core is here. 

That is why a regional venue should be found, so that it draws interest and crowds, money and enthusiasm – not the vapid tones of this World Cup.

The World Cup is also a huge economic reality, and its current locations are in zones which are no longer growing or in decline. Europe cannot be the HQ of any mass games anymore. Other focal zones should be sought, and one can certainly be China.

China can lead jointly with India

China does want to lead if not dominate the global scenario, and its role and interest in hosting Olympic games is a sign of that. And China could be interested in cricket leadership as well because many of the critical BRI countries are also part of it, including India and Pakistan. India may resent Chinese involvement, but India is also learning to keep trade and politics apart. India should lead jointly with China, which will make all happy.

Australia’s refusal to play Bangladesh last year should not be read as a business decision only. It shows the reality of ICC’s decision making system. Even if for tactical reasons, it is in the interest of all the ex-colonized countries to forge bonds with China. Everyone is going to do the same in other sectors, and cricket should not be left behind.

Have fun watching the final.