DUBAI: The ICC on Tuesday released the 2019 Associate Member census figures that show a huge leap in the amount of cricket being played around the world.
The decision by the ICC Board to award international status to all T20 matches between members in 2018 and the introduction of global rankings in the format has had a transformative impact across the sport, the apex body said.
According to an ICC statement, 2019 witnessed a 110 per cent increase in the number of Associate Members women's bilateral T20 matches compared to 2018, while men's T20 matches rose by 34 per cent with 71 of the 92 Associate Members participating in the shortest format of the game.
The release further stated that a total of 49 men's teams played their first T20I while 29 women's teams debuted in the format, marking the "largest growth moment" for the sport at associate level till date.
The introduction of meritocratic pathways to ICC global events has also supported the growth of the game with 23 global, regional and sub-regional events being held in 2019 in which 40 members competed, thanks to an investment of more than USD 5 million from the ICC.
Three Associate Members will play in their first ICC World Cup in 2020 as a result of these pathway events -- Japan and Nigeria competed at the recently concluded U-19 Cricket World Cup, while history makers Thailand will compete at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup in Australia later this month.
Remarkably, the 11 Associate Member teams that have qualified for ICC World Cups in 2020 hail from 10 different countries -- further demonstrating the game's improved competitiveness.
A total of 99 Associate Member players have broken into the T20I player rankings; 25 male and 23 female batters and 30 male and 21 female bowlers were in the top 100 as of December 2019.
"We are committed to growing cricket globally and we clearly identified T20 as the vehicle through which to do this," ICC General Manager Development William Glenwright said.