Mumbai:The International Cricket Council has warned about the potential downside of the inflow of huge amounts of money into cricket and said unregulated cash flow could harm the development of the game.
In his annual report for 2008-09, ICC's Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat has said while the ICC welcomed innovation and enterprise in taking the game to new audiences, they must be done in a manner that benefited the game.
"Today, we can say with some confidence that cricket has reached unprecedented heights, particularly in terms of the numbers of people playing and watching all three formats. This can only bode well for the game's long-term development and success," Lorgat said in his annual report.
"With success and opportunity, we should also be aware of the potential pitfalls. Only by dealing with these challenges directly can we be assured that the game will continue to grow.
"We have witnessed unprecedented flows of money into the game. Sponsors have understood the tremendous potential of a captive audience of hundreds of millions, from Johannesburg to Jaipur, Trinidad to Tasmania, and Kandy to Kabul. With 104 ICC members, cricket is now played in more than 70 % of the world,"Lorgat added.
"While we welcome the tremendous financial investments in the game, we must be conscious that the unregulated flow of cash could present a myriad of hitherto unrealised issues," Lorgat warned.
"This flow of money has provided an opportunity for some to exploit the crowd-friendly Twenty20 format of the game. It is evident these huge money-spinning events are geared towards generating huge amounts of money quickly without much thought given to the long-term sustainability and development of the game or the spirit of cricket with players lured by get-rich-quick schemes," he said.
However, Lorgat did not take anybody's name or mentioned any specific tournament in his report.
"The ICC encourages innovation and enterprise that takes the game to new audiences, but it must be done in a manner that benefits the game," he said.
Lorgat has also warned about the increasing player workloads that is taking their toll in terms of mental and physical fatigue.
"Player workloads are increasing at a staggering rate with international, club and exhibition playing commitments, sponsorship and endorsements and off-field activities taking their toll in the forms of fatigue and mental exhaustion rigorous timetables.
"Once again the sizeable injection of money into the game has tempted the players to accede to unrealistic demands on their bodies and minds," Lorgat said.
Lorgat also wanted individuals or ICC members, who act against the well-being of the game, to be ejected from the cricket family.
"The game of cricket is, and will always be, bigger than the individual and this includes countries as well.
"The ICC's members come together to serve the best interests of the global game. Any individual or member that behaves contrary to this spirit should forfeit the right to be part of the family of cricket," he said.
Lorgat has also emphasised the importance and primacy of the international contests in the annual reports.
"Maintaining and growing a relevant international game must remain our priority. There can be no substitute for pride and passion for one's country," he said.
ICC President David Morgan, in his annual report, has admitted that Test cricket was facing big challenges which needed to be addressed head-on.
"We need to improve the on-field spectacle with better over rates and pitches that provide a fair contest between bat and ball and it is encouraging that steps are already being taken to do this.
"I believe it is also time for our sport's leaders, particularly the top cricket-playing countries, to set a long-term vision for Test cricket and work collectively towards achieving it," Morgan said.