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ICC welcomes Mongolia, Switzerland, Tajikistan

Get to know the ICC's three newest Members

Associate news

It’s an exciting time for three of cricket’s national governing bodies, after they were admitted as Members of the ICC today.

Accepted and ratified during the ICC’s Annual General Meeting, Switzerland, Tajikistan and Mongolia become the game’s newest Associates.

For the added members, entry into pathway tournaments for global events beckons, with funding for cricket development and other benefits boosting the development of the game in their respective lands.

Get to know the three newest Associates.

MONGOLIA

Mongolian Friendship Ground.
Mongolian Friendship Ground.

State of cricket

The Mongolian Cricket Association (MCA) was founded in 2007 by Battluga Gombo, a gentleman who came across cricket on a trip to Australia in 2005. Bearing some similarity to a traditional local game known as Guideg Matka, cricket has close to 400 regular participants in the Central Asian nation, reaching close to 2,000 school children.

Despite Ulaanbaatar being regarded as the coldest capital city in the world, there are four playable months of summer action, with indoor cricket running across the year for budding players. Five districts within the city play recognised league cricket, alongside six of the country’s regional provinces.

At the national level, an eight-team T20 competition runs, as well three-match 50-over series played between clubs.

Perhaps the jewel in the country’s ground crown is the Mongolian Friendship Ground, the first permanent cricket ground opened in the country, back in 2017. Among playing nets and other facilities, a cricket pavilion built in local traditional ‘ger’ style graces the ground.

Cricket is among school tournaments, and has been added to both the country’s National Games and National Youth Games.

What ICC Membership means

While ICC Membership unlocks the chance for men, women and youth of the country to represent Mongolia, the new funding as an Associate Member will go towards the MCA’s outreach programme, which works with schools, orphanages and universities.

“We see this as the best way to sow the seed of cricket so that the sport becomes part of Mongolian life,” Gombo explains.

“The first generation of school cricketers are now young adults setting themselves up in adult clubs, and competing in inter-club and inter-province matches in the National Games.”

Future Plans

On top of the outreach programme, the MCA is currently building a facility in Bayankhongor, 650 kilometres away from the existing Friendship Ground, on land donated by their national government.

As for action on the field, Mongolia intend to field men’s and women’s teams at the 2022 Asian Games, where cricket makes a return in Hangzhou. Gombo believes the emotions of supporting a national team will ignite a deeper love of the game.

“Membership will give the wider Mongolian society a chance to follow the ups and downs of their national team playing one of the greatest games yet invented - sometimes with happiness, sometimes with sorrow, and always with pride!”

SWITZERLAND 

Switzerland - cricket with a view.
Switzerland - cricket with a view.

State of cricket

Evidence across artworks and literature date cricket’s existence in Switzerland as far back as the early 1800s, with the first club in the country founded in 1872.

Fast forward to today and there are over twenty senior men’s clubs competing across three formats (T10, T20 and 40-over competitions), with other clubs across the country comprising junior teams, coaches, umpires and social groupings. 

Five-hundred players and nearly 50 coaches make up Switzerland’s stocks on the junior side, and Cricket Switzerland was recognised by the national Olympic committee in 2018.

What ICC Membership means

It is a return to the ICC for Switzerland in terms of membership, but the first time as an Associate Member, being a previous Affiliate member up until 2012. 

On the field, it ends a 12-year wait for recognised international cricket, having last played in international competition back in 2009, where they ran second to Cyprus at the European Cricket Championship Division Four event. Switzerland will also be granted T20I status for the first time.

ICC funding will also help establish Cricket Switzerland’s initiatives through the national education system as a way to expose newcomers to cricket. Building on existing junior clubs, women’s initiatives that began in 2014 are to be remapped according to a Cricket Switzerland official.

“Women’s cricket is relatively new to Switzerland. It is now the subject of an ambitious redevelopment programme," the official said.

“There are now seven junior clubs, which compete across five age groups (U11, U13, U15, U17, U19). The sport has reached out to several schools and proved popular with pupils – both boys and girls. This has allowed the steady integration of local youngsters into a sport unfamiliar in Switzerland.”

Future Plans

Back on the path of ICC Membership, the immediate future will focus more on the consolidation of the game in Switzerland, with Member funding building on the current framework.

Entering a European system markedly stronger than when it last played in official competition, domestic action in a bid to blood a strong national team has been laid out for the coming year. A new national T10 competition is to be launched, as well as a national league for 40-over play, sitting above the country’s existing three regional competitions.

TAJIKISTAN

Tajikstan are now an Associate Member.
Tajikstan are now an Associate Member.

State of cricket

Cricket became part of the official government sports curriculum in May 2019, with the Tajikistan Cricket Federation given the Certificate of State Accreditation. Four-thousand participants play regular cricket across the country, mainly concentrated in Dushanbe and its outskirts.

A six-team national league is based in the capital city, focused on the game’s short formats, and has built on its early success even through the pandemic period, working closely with the national government.

Tajikistan has close ties to Afghanistan, and the newcomers recognise matches against the Full Member’s ‘A’ team in 2013 as their first taste of international cricket. The country also has plans in place with the UN Refugee Agency, accommodating for people resettling in the country.

What ICC Membership means

It’s all systems go for Tajikistan, who plan to accelerate their implementation of educational courses and high-performance programmes. T20I status will mean the exploits of the national teams are officially recognised, and sanctioned international fixtures at home will expose the general public to the sport.

Underneath the national teams, Membership and its benefits will allow the men’s and women’s domestic competitions to expand, forming bigger leagues and longer seasons to shape international-ready cricketers according to Najibullohi Ruzi, President of the Tajikistan Cricket Federation.

“(ICC Membership) will open the doors for us to participate in various ICC competitions and educational courses," Ruzi said. "This would be a great incentive for us to focus on further accelerating the development work on our existing facilities, and increase our capabilities in the areas of coaching and umpiring.”

Future Plans

While focused on infrastructure development and streamlining domestic pathways, the Federation has also met with its national Youth Affairs and Sports Committee, putting forward a blueprint for a brand new cricket stadium. 

Exploring multiple options for the facility, the ground would be built to meet ICC regulations for international play, and potentially hosting regional events. The board has also extended its welcome for Afghanistan to hold their international matches at the prospective ground, among further developments strengthening their partnership.

“With the help of Afghanistan Cricket Board, we plan to organise coaching and umpiring courses, and invite Afghan players to participate in our domestic competitions,” Ruzi said.

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