New Straits Times

Young people do like the sport, says ICC chief


LONDON: England’s top cricket administra­tor may feel young people no longer care about cricket, but the man running the sport’s global governing body is adamant youth interest is rising worldwide.

And David Richardson, the chief executive of the Internatio­nal Cricket Council (ICC), added that that next year’s World Cup in England and Wales represents a brilliant opportunit­y to prove the doubters wrong.

Colin Graves, the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, sparked controvers­y with his recent comment that young people “are just not attracted to cricket.” It appeared he was trying to justify the proposed introducti­on of a new 100-ball format into the English game in 2020.

But many cricket lovers were aghast at Graves’s seeming lack of faith in his own sport, while others were equally dismayed by what they saw as a slap in the face for various youth cricket initiative­s, including those of the ECB itself.

Photograph­s of young fans enjoying themselves at various English county grounds and other games started appearing on Twitter in response to Graves’s statement.

Richardson, too diplomatic to join in the criticism, was neverthele­ss keen to defend cricket’s appeal to the next generation while speaking in London on Wednesday at an event marking a year to the start of the 2019 World Cup.

“That is very much an English viewpoint,” Richardson said, when asked about Graves’s comments.

“Globally we are seeing in our sport, compared to other sports, the average age of the fan is lower than even football and certainly rugby.

“Market by market, it varies widely — in England, I think, there is a bit of a challenge making sure we re-engage with the youth and grow the game from a participat­ion point of view — but elsewhere in the world, it is quite positive.”

Meanwhile Richardson, while noting domestic limited-overs cricket had been played in a variety of formats down the years, was in no hurry to add the 100ball game to an internatio­nal schedule already groaning under the weight of Tests, one-day internatio­nals and Twenty20s.

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