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, 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.”—AFP