ICC not serious about associates: Howard Petrook
Hitting out at ICC, Petrook said the world governing body was not serious about making cricket an Olympic sport, which would have helped them get more sanctions from the government.
“Time and again the ICC fails to help countries like not only Canada but Ireland, Holland and Scotland. It’s not me who says so, everybody in the associate countries will tell you that. They have Bangladesh and Zimbabwe as Full <g data-gr-id="80">Members</g> but they aren’t strong countries.
“A Full Member gets about 20-30 million USD a year. Give that money to Ireland or Canada and I absolutely guarantee you in five years we would be beating those smaller Test countries,” Petrook, who is the chairman of cricket at the Toronto’s iconic Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, told PTI in an interview here.
“Ireland <g data-gr-id="91">are</g> a good cricketing country and how <g data-gr-id="90">does</g> they grow from here. What’s the path for them to become a Test country? Well nobody knows! What more do they have to do?” he asked ahead of tomorrow’s ICC’s annual meeting in the West Indies, where delegates from over 50 ICC Member countries are expected to gather. He also claimed that the ICC was not in “favour” of including cricket in Olympics.
“They (Canada Cricket) gets about 400-500,000 a year but it’ not enough, what they need is about 3 million. If they really cared about cricket, then why it is not an Olympic sport? The IOC had invited them and ICC and the BCCI did not want it.
“It’s a very big deal for Canada and the US. If it is an Olympic sport, you get a lot more government funding than a non-Olympic sport.”
There may be less than 300 archers in Canada but being an Olympic sport they still get about one and half million dollars per year. “I would be amazed to see 300 archers all over the <g data-gr-id="86">country</g> but still they get one million and <g data-gr-id="85">half</g>! Rugby, which has now become an Olympic sport, gets about 2 million.”
“If ICC really cared about cricket, why not help it become an Olympic sport?” he asked.
In a country that has about 2.5 million South Asian population, cricket in Canada is quite popular and one of the fastest growing <g data-gr-id="82">sports,</g> and Petrook claimed ICC would make more money here than any other place.
“If the ICC makes cricket successful in North America there’s more money here than the rest. There’s more TV dollars, more seats in the stadiums. So make the party bigger and you will have more choices, more TV revenues.
“We have more cricket leagues than they do in NZ, Zimbabwe and West Indies most probably. On any given weekend, 120-200 teams play in greater Toronto. It’s the fastest growing sport in the schools in this province. There’s not a decline in participation but a certain decline in standards and discipline.”
Citing the example of US giants ESPN’s acquisition of leading cricket portal Cricinfo in 2007, he said: “Why did ESPN <g data-gr-id="66">buy</g> Cricinfo? Because they knew cricket has a huge demand in North America.
“When they had the World Cup the second highest hits was from the North America. The online readership also goes through the roof when World Cup is played. That tells you there’s a market. There’s enough interest among the expats in North America to fill the stadium. “Playing numbers are huge in Canada, mostly South Asians.
We have more cricketers in this country than some of the Test countries absolutely. We have more cricket playing here than in West Indies, Zimbabwe. The cricket in the leagues on Sunday account for 70-75 per cent South Asians.”
But Petrook said in <g data-gr-id="63">present</g> state the future looked grey and they’re facing a conundrum.
“It’s a very complex situation. The problem is we have so many professional sports in North America competing for sponsorship, TV rights etc, whereas in India you have two or three sports competing for money.
Here basketball, American football, Canadian football, professional soccer, baseball, ice hockey... all of those five-six sports dominate the culture and get sponsorship attentions. The US has 10 times more cricket than us.”