Forget Olympics, cricket needs to look within

Updated on Sep 13, 2008 11:57 PM IST

It seems premature for current and former internationals to be pushing for "cricket at the Olympics" when the ninth ranked side in the world can't beat a good Australian club side, writes Ian Chappell.

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None | ByIan Chappell

It seems premature for current and former internationals to be pushing for "cricket at the Olympics" when the ninth ranked side in the world can't beat a good Australian club side. Bangladesh are currently a poor team and the most disturbing aspect is the rapid deterioration of their standard. In 2005, Bangladesh beat a strong Australian side in England and then seriously challenged them later in the tournament. At the 2007 World Cup, they defeated India and South Africa to reach the Super Eights.

Bangladesh's slide into mediocrity highlights the ICC's glaring misjudgement in prematurely elevating them to a level way beyond their capacity.

Bangladesh's inability to repeat anything like the progress of Sri Lanka brings into sharp focus the way young cricketers are now being developed.

Currently, there aren't enough good players in some of the major teams let alone the developing sides. Ever since Australia appointed a coach in the mid-eighties and the results improved, other teams have behaved like women in a shop full of diamonds; they just have to have one. Trouble is there are a lot more affordable diamonds than there are coaches qualified to produce even the slightest improvement in an international cricket team.

The manic desire to have an international coach and then blame him when things go awry and build academies at every street corner has shifted focus from what really builds a strong cricket nation.

A system that produces good, combative young cricketers and then challenges them at progressively tougher levels of competition is the best way to ensure players are properly prepared for international cricket.

The obscene haste to obtain an ICC vote for Bangladesh has seen the issue of player development neglected. With no threat of demotion if standards don't improve and no suitable second-tier competition to monitor the progress of other prospective full member nations, it's unlikely the situation will improve.

Despite Bangladesh's current lowly playing status, ironically, they have a huge asset. Their vote at the ICC is coveted and if the ICL were to sign a Bangladesh team for the competition, it would create an enormous dilemma for traditional administrators. Would the officials be prepared to let a Bangladesh third-string side flounder for the sake of the precious vote or would they see sense and come to the negotiating table with ICL?

Any show of common sense would only be beneficial to the game. It could serve as the conduit to bring ICL into the official fold so that the player pool is boosted and the overall international standard is improved. However, the real issue is the long-term future of the game.

Currently, there's excessive focus on glamour and glitz; by contemplating cricket's entry into the Olympics it provides more proof that money is the prime motivator in the game. It's time for all sides to roll up the sleeves and concentrate on a few of the less glamorous aspects of cricket so that in future the game is entertaining and competitive.

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