CASSIM SULIMAN: REACTIONARY AND VISIONARY

We’ve put the continent into three regions – South, East, North and West. We realized that cricket, when it was played in our countries, was city-based and that to expand it had to go into the rural areas.

In West Africa

My predecessor, the ICC’s Africa Development Manager Hossain Ayob got the ball rolling and now with our Development Officers this is what we do: we take cricket into places in Africa it has not been for many years, if ever at all, and we do it with the good graces of governments and local corporates. Corporates big and small thankfully contribute a lot to our cause and we’re very grateful to them for the time and effort and finances they provide.

It is our up and coming countries, Uganda, Mali, Gambia, Ghana, Tanzania and our newest member, Seychelles who I’m very happy to see doing well in such a short space of time.

Africa has as many members and as vast a territory as Asia, with many more differences between the countries – we have no common subcontinental background – and with a quarter of the US$5.5 million budget of Asia has big challenges. But that’s what I’m here to overcome, that’s what motivates me.

Fair enough, most of the money for cricket rights comes out of Asia, we in Africa, with two Test-playing counties and seven Associates and thirteen Affiliates have to be as Asia if we’re to keep up. Not only do we want cricket around the world to get bigger and better but as Africans we also want to have more qualifiers in all the World Cup formats and more countries climbing up the ICC rankings.

With Zimbabwe Cricket Board Chairman Peter Chingoka

No doubt the linkages between Asian and Africa are things we can work on. The original plans of ‘Afro-Asian Cricket Co-operation’ became sidetracked once there were changes in the BCCI, nevertheless the Middle East and East Africa have for centuries been close, India and East Africa the same so there’s plenty of scope for some regional activity between us which’ll be a win-win situation.

There’ll be Chinese men and women cricketers coming to train and play in South Africa as guests of the ACA in 2012. It’s the kind of thing that we’re happy to do to help develop cricket in Asia – a strong China’s a great advert for the development of cricket in general.

In parts of West and North Africa it’s a very tribal set-up, one has to get the consent of the head-man before cricket can be taken to some places and then also, women’s sport let alone women’s cricket is not in evidence. Nevertheless, it is a great honour and privilege for all of us who go those countries to see them involved in cricket. And I tell you, there’s a lot of potential in those countries. I already see a lot of improvement in just a few years.

Football’s the biggest sport in Africa no doubt, and rugby is trying too. They’re the sports we have to fight against. Cricket’s a slower kind of growth but the kind of growth we’re achieving in terms of player numbers is actual quality.

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