The dramatic growth in popularity of cricket worldwide has been emphasised in the latest development figures released by the President of the International Cricket Council, Mr Malcolm Gray today.
Membership of the ICC has jumped from 45 to 84 countries since the ICC Development Program started in 1997.
"Latest members include a wide range of exciting countries including Brazil, Chile, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Croatia and the Cayman Islands", Mr Gray said.
"The ICC is now spending over $11 million a year on developing cricket throughout the world," he said.
"Locally, $700,000 a year is being invested in the East Asia - Pacific region which includes Australian neighbours such as Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Samoa, South Korea, Tonga and Vanuatu", he said
In 2001, the ICC set the strategic objective of a 30% increase in the number of cricketers worldwide by 2005.
Mr Gray said that already in our local East Asia-Pacific region in the last two years we have achieved:
Increase in senior players of 33%.
Increase in junior players of 174%.
Increase in participation at junior clinics of 341%.
Increase in overall participation in cricket (including newly qualified coaches & umpires) of 170%.
Increase in cricket grounds/pitches of 16%.
Increase in cricket development officers employed by the National Cricket Bodies of the region from two to 21.
Other current developments in the region are:
Papua New Guinea tour to Cairns, May 22-31.
"Spirit Of Cricket Week" in Vanuatu, May 31 to June 8.
Four full time community/cricket development placements for 12 months to Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu from September 2003. The placements are an initiative between the Australian Government Youth Ambassadors for Development Program and the ICC.
ICC Global Award winners in the Best Overall Cricket Development Program (Samoa) and Best Junior Development Initiative (Indonesia) categories.
Mr Gray said the continued growth of cricket in the region was reflected in the worldwide emphasis on participation and development of the game at both the grassroots and also at a representative level under the ICC High Performance Program Manager, Bob Woolmer.
For further information, please contact the ICC East Asia - Pacific Development Office on +61 3 9653 9921 or 0409 218 883.