Constant evolution alone will popularise cricket: Dave Richardson

Last Updated: Apr 02, 2011, 19:58 PM IST

Mumbai: Powerplays, the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) and free-hits have made 50-over cricket attractive and all these innovations have made the 2011 World Cup more exciting, says Dave Richardson, general manager (Cricket) of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Richardson, a former South African wicketkeeper, feels "constant evolution" is the best way to make the game popular and attractive in uncharted territories.

Richardson said cricket is the most adaptable to constant innovations. "I am not aware of annual innovations, but cricket is the most adaptable if not the most flexible sport which is constantly evolving," Richardson told IANS as the curtains were about come down on the third World Cup in the sub-continent.

Richardson said the game has expanded, but the decision to cut down on the number of teams at the next edition will not affect cricket`s globalisation that started 15 years ago, thanks to Jagmohan Dalmiya, who became iCC president in 1997.

Yet, even after 15 years, the same eight Test playing nations, who made the quarterfinals in 1996, again qualified for the last eight in the current World Cup.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat had recently stated that 15 years is too short a time for the game to expand.

"Fifteen years in the life of cricket is not a long time. What I am pleased about is that today many countries are playing cricket. Today some 105 countries are playing organised cricket and 15 years back the number was 30 or 40. That shows the game has grown to a large extent," said Lorgat.

"It will take fair amount of time and what we can do is focusing on those teams who are close to breaking into top competitions, for example Ireland. But to be fair cricket is a game where team needs time to rise to the top and the fact is teams, those who are on the top are taking the game forward," said Lorgat.

Richardson, concurred with his compatriot, and said: "Since the ICC Development Programme was established in 1997 the number of ICC members has more than doubled. 105 countries are now members of ICC -Seychelles being the latest to join in June 2010 - which represents cricket`s significant global footprint."

Asked why the format of the World Cup was changed to help top teams making the quarters, Richardson said: "The best teams should be given the best opportunity to reach the quarterfinals, and this has happened during this World Cup."

When queried if the ICC was being fair with associate-member countries by reducing the number of teams for the next edition to 10 from 14, Richardson said: "At the same time the ICC World Twenty20 will be a 16-team tournament which will give more teams than ever a place on the global stage -- and every two years."

Richardson also said the ICC board is still discussing the qualifying process of the associate members for the 2015 World Cup.

"The mechanism for qualification is under discussion at present. The decision on the structure of ICC Cricket World Cups is a decision of the board," he said.