ICC maintains bans for USA and Nepal, upgrades Saudi membership

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has ratified the suspensions of the USA Cricket Association (USACA) and the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), along with welcoming Saudi Arabia as its 39th associate member.

The 53-member Full Council yesterday (Thursday) unanimously ratified the continued suspensions of the two national bodies, which were initially suspended in June 2015 and April 2016, respectively. The United States is a key growth market for cricket but the administration of the sport in the country has been a long-running concern.

The ICC initially suspended USACA’s membership of the sport’s global governing body amid “significant concerns” over the organisation’s governance, finance, reputation and cricketing activities. ICC chairman Shashank Manohar has now announced that ICC delegations comprising board directors and senior management will visit the US and Nepal to meet with relevant stakeholders and provide an update during October meetings.

Manohar (pictured) said: “Both Nepal and the US are important members of the ICC as they have tremendous talent and potential. The ICC, as part of its game and market development strategy, will continue to provide the countries with as much support as possible so that they can put in place good governance and cricket structures.

“An ICC delegation will visit Nepal and will meet with the Nepal government and cricket officials, while I will lead an ICC team including Dave Cameron, Giles Clarke, Imran Khawaja and David Peever to the USA to meet with various stakeholders in that market and help them lay the foundation for the effective development of the sport (at grass roots and international level) and implementation of a governance structure that unifies the entire cricket community in the USA.”

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has secured acceptance to the second tier of the ICC’s membership structure. Saudi Cricket Centre (SCC) has been an affiliate member of the ICC since 2003 and, as per a 2014 census, boasts 4,350 cricketers and 80 dedicated cricket facilities.

Recently, the SCC signed a lucrative three-year deal with money transfer and payment services company MoneyGram, which is also one of the ICC’s commercial partners. The SCC invested a large chunk from this sponsorship towards the staging of a domestic tournament in which 1,800 players from 106 clubs participated.

In other news, the Rome 2024 bid team for the Olympics has said cricket will be included in their Games if the Italian city wins hosting rights to the event. Rome is currently competing against Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris for the 2024 Games, and the ESPNcricinfo website said the France Cricket body is also seeking to gain a similar commitment from Paris 2024.

“If Rome hosts the Olympics, cricket will be included,” Simone Gambino, president of the Federazione Cricket Italiana (FCI) told ESPNcricinfo. “We have had a firm commitment from the organising committee.”

New International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules permit the addition of more sports to the Olympic Games programme. Bids from baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing to join the programme for the 2020 summer Games in Tokyo cleared another hurdle last month when the IOC executive board voted in favour of their inclusion.

Cricket stakeholders have been debating putting forward the Twenty20 format of the sport for major multi-sport events such as the Olympics. The ICC has been discussing major reform topics for cricket at its meetings in Edinburgh, Scotland this week and is due to announce the results of the talks tomorrow (Saturday).