Sydney:International Cricket Council CEO Haroon Lorgat has identified corruption, workload and security of players and ensuring a "competitive balance" among all the member countries as the biggest challenges facing the game's world governing body in its centenary year.
Lorgat was speaking at the Sydney Cricket Ground alongside ICC President David Morgan ahead of tomorrow's third and final Test between Australia and South Africa.
"As the ICC enters its second century, the game faces challenges -- safety and security, player workload, balancing formats, ensuring a competitive balance between ICC Members, staying on top of corruption and plenty more besides," Lorgat said.
The ICC CEO, however, asserted that the ICC was ready for the challenges.
"...cricket has always faced challenges just as big, if not bigger, than those currently confronting us -- Bodyline, illegal bowling actions in the 1950s and 1960s and corruption, to name just three. And, as a successful global sport, cricket will not be unique in facing such significant challenges.
"The key we all need to remember is that cricket has always dealt with those past challenges and is now, as a result, stronger than ever," he said.
On the positive side, Lorgat said the financial gains and the spirit with which the game was being played gave the ICC reasons to cheer.
"Emerging stars, three great formats, medium-term financial security and the evidence of history are all reasons to smile, as is the great spirit in which cricket is played and enjoyed by millions of people across the world," he added, while launching the ICC's centenary year with the message: "Cricket is a game that gets plenty right, has plenty to celebrate and has plenty to look forward to."
"We are perhaps the only sport with three viable forms of the game at international level and we are about to launch the worlds first Global Cricket Academy in Dubai with state-of-the-art facilities for the world," Lorgat said.
He revealed that the ICC was pumping in USD 300 million into the development of the game in member countries. "And, as a governing body that ploughs all money earned back to its Members, we have just begun investing USD 300 million into the development of the game among our second and third tier Members, the biggest commitment to grow a sport outside of soccer," he said.
Lorgat said the rise of youngsters like Indian pacer Ishant Sharma and Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis has shown that the game's future is bright.
"Greats of the game like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shaun Pollock and Brian Lara may have moved on but the recent performances of the likes of Ajantha Mendis, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma suggest the future is in good hands," he said.
"The start of the ICC's centenary year gives us all the chance to reflect on the past and look to the future. When I do that I see a game that's played and enjoyed in a great spirit by millions of people across the world, gets plenty right, has plenty to celebrate and has plenty to look forward to," he added.