Of course, this is the sort of short-sighted thinking that shows just how incompetent the ICC is capable of being. They don't understand that a few thousand successful cricket nuts can inspire a few thousand more. They don't seem to understand, either, that those fans may move on elsewhere if they find the futility of following cricket to be too much to bear. And now, for those cricket fans in many of the lower-ranked nations, being a cricket lover must be feeling exceptionally futile, because the ICC has decided to scrap almost all of their smaller tournaments.
They intend to keep the top few divisions of the World Cricket League, and some high-level regional competitions, but a startling number of aspirant cricketing nations are being simply cut loose and left to find their own way with the vague promise of being let in if and when they are deemed to have earned it.
I am not the first to write on this topic, and certainly not the one with the best grasp of all the funding-related ins and outs, but even I can see a few absolutely glaring issues. First and foremost, where exactly is the purpose for these nations now? Many of them intend to focus on participation, which is a nice idea, but without a national team to aim for, or a ladder to work up, it is unlikely that cricket will ever be more than a social game in these countries.
These nations have been told to organise tours amongst themselves, but a cricket tour is not a cheap thing to organise. These Associates, and particularly the Affiliates, are working on very limited budgets, and will likely have to choose between their national team and their grass roots. Without ICC-backed tournaments, the funding won't be there for both to coexist.
Take Europe, for example. There is to be no competition below the European Division Two, which leaves countries like Greece facing the guillotine, left to fend for themselves as they look to nurture their domestic cricketing affairs. For Full Members, though, domestic competitions are usually a means to an end (a competitive national team) and without that end goal in sight, what is the point in continuing to strive?
The only realistic hope for these nations is that someone else takes on the baton from the ICC. T20 International, for instance, probably has the contacts to broker some sort of major European tournament, while Quipu TV would likely broadcast it to gain some much-needed publicity. Unfortunately, though, we live in a capitalist society, and without sponsors, even the most well-planned and executed of tournaments would go belly-up. And who, exactly, would be likely to sponsor a non-sanctioned, semi-rebel tournament made up of teams ranked well outside the world's top 25 to the sort of tune that would be needed to keep the tournament afloat?
If your cricketing infrastructure is already pretty solid, and so is your national team, then this change ought to leave you fairly well in the clear. But for a country like Greece, who were once able to count Nic Pothas among their number, and might have been able to utilise Marcus Stoinis, the noose may just have been pulled tight on their cricketing future. Not that it matters to the Full Members, but it will matter to people like André Leslie, whose work with German cricket is largely responsible for their improvement. Now, who knows what the future has in store - if anything.