ICC banks heavily on migrants to fuel cricket's growth in Germany
Often criticised for not being able to make cricket a global sport, the International Cricket Council has pinned its hopes on South Asian migrants in Germany and USA to expand the game's footprint in the untapped markets of Europe and Americas.
Campbell Jamieson, General Manager - Commercial at the International Cricket Council (ICC), said the game is growing rapidly in Germany, which is home to a sizable South Asian population.
The ICC has 104 members in its fold but only 12 out of them play Test cricket.
"Cricket is expanding. A really good example of that is Germany where in the last five years we have gone from 50 cricket teams to 500 teams and we are struggling to keep up with the infrastructure and the governance of the sport in that country. We need to ensure that cricketers in that country always get to play the sport they love," Jamieson said.
Initially, economic migration from cricket-crazy India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka fuelled the sport's growth in Germany but of late the rising number of Afghan refugees are taking the game beyond the big cities.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees statistics up to 2016, Germany had at least 46,292 registered Afghan refugees in the country.
"Migrant population from cricket playing countries is contributing to the growth of the game in Germany. And if you mix that with local players, you then have inclusive growth. The migration of people from South Asia aids that growth and we are fortunate in that case," said Jamieson.
The sport is also growing fast in USA, something that was recently acknowledged by former West Indies batsman Ricardo Powell, who is now a selector with the USA national team.
"If you look at the current national team, 70 per cent of the team members are of Indian descent. There is a huge Indian population in the US and we have 250 clubs playing the game. That says a lot about cricket in the US," Powell said.
At the moment, there is no ICC recognised association in the USA but the country is on its way to regaining the membership, said Jamieson.
"North America has also seen great expansion thanks to the migration of people from the Caribbean and India of course. We need to harness that opportunity to allow people to play the game they love," he said.
Speaking on ICC's bid for women's cricket's inclusion in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Jamieson sounded upbeat.
"Hopefully, the bid is successful and that will take the women's game further forward. From a cricket and Commonwealth Games' perspective both compliment each other really well. CWG can utilise the power, strength and support that cricket has throughout the world.
"There is a rich cricketing history in the UK, great facilities and infrastructure but as I said, it is just an application along with number of sports."
On the ever-increasing threat of corruption in cricket with the advent of T20 leagues around the world, Jamieson said it is imperative that the sport is governed properly.
"In my view, the growth of leagues globally is good news for the game but at the same time, the cricket needs to be governed and administered properly," he added.