A century for a batsman is invaluable number in any form of cricket.

With its legacy of over 100 years of taking the sport to every corner of the globe, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is now helping raise the standards of the game in several countries.

The early days were not easy. The ICC came into existence as the Imperial Cricket Council in 1907, when the South African Cricket Association President, Abe Bailey wrote a letter to the Marylebone Cricket Club. The letter suggested the setting up of an Imperial Cricket Board that could also establish the rules of the sport. It also suggested that there should be a triangular test match series between Australia, England and South Africa.

It took two years before a meeting among the three countries was held in June 1909, and the idea of a triangular test match series was ratified. Another meeting set the rules for the test matches between the three countries and the triangular series was finally scheduled for 1912. Due to weather conditions, the Australian team did not turn up and the idea did not take off.

Long wait for next meeting

It took nine more years for the next meeting to be held in 1921 and another in 1926. Delegates from India, New Zealand and West Indies had been invited to attend. Soon, three more countries were granted test playing status – West Indies in 1928, New Zealand in 1929-30 and India in 1932.

ICC’s meetings were now held every year, except during the war. Future test tours were now being planned. The use of turf, and not matting, pitch was encouraged and standardised. Qualification of players and amendment of rules to govern the sport were also taken up.

Pakistan was admitted as a member of the ICC in 1952 but after 1961, South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth and was no longer eligible for ICC membership. In 1965, ICC’s name was changed to International Cricket Conference and finally to its current name in 1989.

Limited overs cricket is born

The introduction of limited overs or one-day international (ODI) cricket was by happenstance. Australia and England were playing a three-test series in 1971 and the third test was threatened by weather. After four days were washed out, the two teams decided to play a 50-over match to make it a spectacle for the spectators.

That match later came to be recognised as the first ODI in cricket. In 1973, the first ICC Women’s World Cup was started. Since then, it has taken off in a big way and is a keenly contested competition among various countries. Australia, England and New Zealand are the three teams that have won the trophy over the 11 editions it has been held. Two years later, the ICC Cricket World Cup for men was started.

ICC Women’s World Cup 2017- England Vs. West Indies

West Indies lifted the trophy at the ICC Cricket World Cup (men) in 1975

Some three decades later, T20 cricket was born and the ICC Twenty20 World Cup was held for the first time in 2007. Both the West Indian teams are the reigning champions of the two tournaments for men and women.

The West Indies team celebrates their win at the ICC World Twenty20 in 2016

Cricket going global

12 full members and 92 associate members make up the ICC. The ICC helps the associate members improve the standards of the game in their countries, spreading the game at the grassroots level and developing commercial strategies.

Over the last two decades, the sport has spread to different parts of the world. According to the ICC, 1.5 million people play the sport outside of the full member nations. The 92 associate member nations are responsible for administering the grants given to them by the ICC. The ICC team helps countries identify which areas should they look to improve upon so that the investments can see the best returns.

The long-term ambition for ICC is for cricket to become the world’s favourite sport. The four-year strategy to promote the sport around the world ends in 2019 after which ICC will redefine its strategy for the next few years.