“It would be great if Oman had the third ground. It would be a lot easier for us to stage our development and qualification competitions here. There are going to be more opportunities than ever before as every associate country now has T20 international status which makes it possible to hold bilateral series or tri-series with other member countries,” explained the ICC CEO. He praised the training facilities at Oman Cricket Academy as well as the two floodlit grounds with turf pitches.
Richardson said with the kind of facilities Oman had and the way it was progressing, he would not be surprised if it was soon ranked among the top 20 in the world. He said the Middle East was one of the targeted areas for ICC where it looked to promote the game of cricket. “Next year ICC is going to roll out a mass participation programme for young kids, both boys and girls. If we could get this programme into schools, I think it could be the game changer for cricket in the region,” added Richardson.
When asked if he was satisfied with cricket facilities in Oman, Richardson said, “Oman Cricket is tremendously lucky to have the support of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said, Minister of Heritage and Culture and Sheikh Saad bin Mohammed al Saadi, Minister of Sports Affairs, which has resulted in Oman having many cricket facilities.
“There has been outstanding cricket development in Oman. Just a few years ago all you saw here was sandy outfields, artificial turfs and much fewer teams playing the game here. Now, Oman has two top-class grass grounds with turf wickets and a lot more teams involved in the domestic season. In fact, Oman Cricket Academy’s Clubhouse is even better than what we have at my home ground, Port Elizabeth, in South Africa, which is one of the oldest Test grounds in the world.”
Richardson revealed that ICC was in the process of revising its strategy for global cricket.
“To have the governments interested in cricket we need to have a much broader purpose. What put this question to ourselves: What can cricket do to make the lives of people better? We have reached a consensus that we want to unite and inspire and empower communities through cricket and this is our purpose. Cricket is particularly suited to fulfil that purpose as it is played by everybody; you can be a male and a female, rich or poor it is not going to make any difference.”
He said ICC hoped that cricket was going to become popular among local communities, and not just among south Asian diaspora in countries like Oman and Saudi.
“Once you’ve got a purpose like that I am sure cricket is going to be enjoyed by the whole world,” he added.
Richardson saw the evolvement of cricket into three major formats — World Test Championship, 13-team ODI (calendar) and T20 games — was among the best things to have happened in his tenure as ICC CEO.
When asked which was the most annoying development under his administration, he thought long and hard before saying, “When member countries put their personal interest above everything else, the game suffers.”