• Posted 15/10/2017 9:52pm


I often get asked about the link between my previous career in sport and what I do now in assisting small to medium sized businesses take an overall look at the health of their business and develop a long term strategic plan to achieve growth.

The answer is simple – sport is a business. The same challenges remain – financial positions, competing against other sports, accountability – the list can go on and on.

I was fortunate to have the career I did with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and it taught me a lot about business and the need to be strategic if you want to not only achieve growth, but sustain what you have and compete in the market place.

What people also find astounding is that cricket is played in 105 of the world’s 194 countries. When you think of cricket, most people think of the Test playing nations – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England and the West Indies. But there are 95 nations that are associate and affiliate members of the ICC. Ireland and Afghanistan are at the top of that list in terms of performance.

On February 24 2011, 48 hours after the devastating Christchurch earthquake, I left as planned to take up a role with the ICC based in Japan. It was an emotional time to leave, and three weeks later I found myself in the middle of another disaster, the March 11 tsunami. I was in downtown Tokyo at the time, watching the skyscrapers sway around like trees on a breezy North-West day, and the road move up and down like choppy water in the estuary.

I remember thinking, surely my luck in escaping earthquakes unharmed is due to runout. When the nuclear crisis involving the Fukushima Power Plant became obvious I fled the country for two weeks to Britain to try and get my head around what a job I had in front of me.

My role in Japan was to not only coach the men’s and women’s national teams and take them to various tournaments around the world, but formalise a sustainable player pathway, to generate growth in player numbers, promote the game in a Baseball mad nation and do so with very limited funds.

I also had a major role to play within my region of the ICC. The 95 members are broken down into five regions of the world – Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas and our region, East Asia-Pacific.

Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket have roles to play in advising the East Asia-Pacific (EAP) region, which includes 10 associate and affiliate members – Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Cook Islands and Tonga.

The ICC’s vision was to build a bigger, better, global game. With each World Cup event, a proportion of the funds generated goes towards the development programme for the 95 nations.

In order to achieve this vision, a strategic plan was a must, to aid these countries in their own individual growth. Accountability became key. From the strategic plan, annual targets were set for each member, which they set out to achieve by developing Annual Delivery Plans (ADPs) against their own four year strategic plan.

The plan we set up for the ICC was broken down into seven key pillars:

  1. Participation
  2. Performance
  3. Promotion
  4. Competition Opportunities
  5. Targeted Support
  6. Governance and Administration
  7. Females in Cricket

Lofty, yet achievable objectives were developed over the four year period which included:

  • 1 million+ participants in associate and affiliate members
  • More cricket shown and rights purchased, by ‘non-traditional’ cricket media
  • Cricket to become an Olympic sport
  • Grow the number of series played between Test playing and Associate nations
  • Increase in non-ICC income
  • Increased support for female cricket

When developing a strategic plan it is important to ensure that it remains a living document. The plan was a one page document which all involved in the ICC development programme across the globe were expected to not only understand but align everything they do against it.

The results speak for themselves. When I moved to Japan in early 2011, 500,000 people played to game in the 95 associate and affiliate nations. By 2015, that number had grown to 1.4 million.

Prior to 2011, cricket existed primarily within the expatriate communities of Australia, India and Pakistan within these associate and affiliate members. The major shift now is development programmes set up in schools and clubs all over the world where indigenous communities of those nations are now playing the game.

A good example is Papua New Guinea, close to qualification for the 2019 World Cup, now having more people participating in the game than New Zealand.

It is also a strong possibility that cricket will be played in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. France is an associate member of the ICC so this will mean that they will have cricket purposed facilities built within the Paris region.

Cricket being an Olympic sport will be a big deal. Many ICC member nations which see a dramatic rise in income from their country’s Olympic Committee just for the sport being in the Olympic Games. Whether they qualify or not is irrelevant. 

It has been a privilege to shift what I did within cricket to assisting small to medium sized businesses achieve growth and success.

The process of strategic planning is the same within any industry. You may believe that you can’t achieve any further growth. Well our organisation says that if cricket can be a thriving sport in Japan than anything is possible. You just need to believe, take time to plan and live your strategic plan every day.

So for the final quarter of 2017, treat yourself as your most important client, and book in for a complimentary consult with us.

We’ll give your business processes and culture a free once over. To make sure you’re streamlined for success, we’ll be looking at areas you may be able to gain maximum efficiency. Whether it’s to outsource or delegate tasks such as sales, accounts, marketing, production, customer service, client management or lead generation, we will be able to suggest solutions to your challenges.

Free up your time to see what you do best, book today by contacting us here.

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