Lahore: A key meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) development committee opened on Saturday aimed at extending the reach of the popular game, officials said.
"With ICC president Malcolm Gray and chief executive Malcolm Speed in attendance, the meeting is a high profile one and various issues pertaining to the further development of the game will come into discussion," Asia's representative Zakir Hussain Syed of Pakistan said. Among the issues tabled will be plans on how to expand ICC membership beyond its current 85 countries and become a truly global sport, fulfilling the ICC motto of "cricket without boundaries", officials said. The ICC launched a development programme in 1997 with the objective of spreading the game to new markets. It has enjoyed broad success, with more than 30 new members joining the ICC and a notable improvement of playing standards in existing member countries. "It is a great honour for Asia to host such a meeting and we were given this honour in appreciation of the success of Asia's development programme," said Syed, who coordinated the meeting. The ICC has 10 full members, 27 associates and 48 affiliates. Host Pakistan has expressed hope the visit of the senior officials proves it is safe to revive international cricket in the terrorism-scarred country. Pakistan effectively has been off the world cricket stage since the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the refusal of several topsides to play here over security concerns. Gray arrived in Pakistan two days before the meeting and held discussions with President Pervez Musharraf to assess apparent security improvements. Musharraf on Thursday guaranteed to Gray the safety of "every foreign team visiting Pakistan". An ICC press conference is scheduled for Sunday at the meeting's conclusion.