Cricket in Asia is not just a sport, it’s the biggest celebration of skill and competence through the battle between the willow and leather. And the subcontinent comprising India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka Bangladesh and Nepal and comprise more than 2 billion people are the places where the sport is culturally integrated in the lives of people. With so many people playing the sport, there needs to be a structure, a growth plan and a tournament under which each of the teams compete to be crowned champions. This is where the Asian Cricket Council comes in and takes up the job of administration, promotion and growth of the sport throughout the continent.
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In this chapter about the ACC, Let’s delve deep and understand what and how this organisation works in the favour of growing the sport.
The roots of this organization can be dated back to the 1980s when the sports federations of nations across Asia recognized the need for a central regional body to regulate and coordinate the sporting activities. This need was very imminent as there were more than a billion people that had to be looked after in the continent. The ACC was founded as the Asian Cricket Conference in the year 1983, with the founding members including India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, and Sri Lanka and has since expanded to 25 member nations throughout the continent now. In the year 1995, it was renamed to the Asian Cricket Council as it has been a subordinate to the ICC throughout its lifetime.
The Objectives of the ACC:
Developing cricket at the grassroots level:
As big as Asia is, there are not many people who pursue cricket in many countries other than the countries in the subcontinent. The council has the task to change this and put our sport as a mainstream game in the lives of people throughout the continent.
Identifying and nurturing young talent:
The task of identifying the local talent and giving them global exposure lies in the hands of the ACC. It is their responsibility that a skilled and talented player does not miss out on the opportunity to play the sport at the highest level.
Organizing regional tournaments and championships:
The board organises multiple tournaments that provide cricket players, both male and female the equal opportunity to get exposed to international matches and competitions from larger countries. The tournaments include the ACC Emerging Teams Tournament, the ACC Women's Asia Cup, the ACC Under-19 Championship and the biggest of them all, The ACC Asia Cup.
Promoting Women’s Participation:
The contribution and participation of women’s cricket in any sport is immense for their growth and the council recognizes this very well. And that’s the reason we see so many efforts by the ICC, the ACC and the national bodies like the BCCI that work towards the inclusion of women in the game by organizing tournaments for them and supporting them through grassroot activities. The Women’s Asia Cup is a testament to this fact.
Credit: Female Cricket
Complying with the Cricket Bodies:
The ACC also has the job to be a bridge between the ICC and the individual national boards like the BCCI or the PCB. By working together, sharing resources, and exchanging knowledge, all bodies aim to create a positive and conducive environment for the sport to thrive in Asia.
The ACC Asia Cup:
The Asia cup is one of the biggest cricket tournaments in the world and happens every two years and is played between the top 8 nations in the continent. The first edition of the tournament was played in 1984, where India were the inaugural winners. It is a prestigious tournament that promotes the sport and fosters friendly competition between the best nations in the continent. It follows a round-robin format where each team plays every other team at least once in the group stages and has witnessed intense rivalries, particularly between India and Pakistan. The competition is under the administration of the ACC and is extremely important since it improves relations between nations and gives up-and-coming players a stage. The latest edition in 2022 showed that even the mighty fall and a team with no superstar players can still achieve success through teamwork. Sri Lanka defeated India in the group stages and Pakistan in the finals to claim the final prize.
Credit: ESPN Cricinfo
The Asia Cup 2023 has been a matter of huge controversy. The hosting rights were granted to Sri Lanka and Pakistan, but India, due to political reasons, cannot travel to Pakistan. So, all India matches, including the one versus Pakistan matches have been shifted to Sri Lanka.
The development of the sport in the largest continent has been fuelled by the Asian Cricket Council. The growth and opportunity to youngsters and up and coming nations in the continent like Hong Kong, Nepal, Oman and UAE has can be credited to the ACC. As time passes, the ACC will continue to work hard to help, develop and grow cricket throughout the largest continent.