OCA boss says money-obsessed officials 'killing' game

Asia’s top sports official slammed cricket administrators on Saturday, saying their obsession with money was “killing” the game and stopping it spreading to new countries.

Cricket was included as an Asian Games medal sport for the second time in Incheon, but as at Guangzhou, China in 2010, no major side sent a full-strength squad.

India, which is responsible for two-thirds of cricket’s global income and dominates the administration of the game, sent no team at all.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said cricket chiefs were so fixated with business that they were neglecting the sport.

“The people who are in charge of cricket are looking to be businesspeople and they want money more than promotion for the game,” he told reporters.

“They want to control the market, they want to control the game, they want to keep the big athletes for their own. This is not sport, this is business.”

The International Cricket Council (ICC) recently voted changes that mean the so-called “big three” of India, England and Australia effectively run the governing body between them.

If a new television rights deal is concluded the trio, in particular India, will become even wealthier.

“They are looking for business view more than sports view and they are killing cricket,” Sheikh Ahmad said.

“I hope in future they will understand to keep it as your baby in your chest — it’s not your personal toy, it’s the people’s game and you have to deliver it for the people.”

The Kuwaiti said administrators were so focused on money, the development of cricket beyond its traditional sphere of former British colonies was suffering.

“You can be rich by the game but you have to cover the other sector, and this is why cricket is still only a Commonwealth sport,” he said.

Cricket had faced the axe from the Incheon lineup as part of moves to streamline the event, but survived after a fight by the Asian Cricket Council.

But with no big names playing, the event failed to catch the South Korean public’s imagination and apart from the final — won by a second-string Sri Lankan team — games were played in front of empty stands.