The 10th ICC cricket World Cup is now underway, being played in the Indian sub-continent. With the tournament still to get in full flow, the ICC (International Cricket Council) , the governing body for international cricket, has come up with a decision to reduce the number of teams participating in the next world cup from 14 to 10. This has come as a surprise to associate nations who cherish playing in such prestigious tournaments. The tournament gives them a chance to play against the best in the world and helps them improve their game. With the ICC now deciding to reduce the number of teams, some of these associate nations will have to sit out from the next world cup. Not only does this decision dampen their spirits amidst the ongoing world cup but it also signals a step taken backwards by the ICC.
Cricket is still not a big sport globally with only eight having permanent membership from ICC. There were lots of talks to make the game a global one by encouraging more and more countries to take to this sport. The decision to reduce the number of teams is based on the huge disparities and mismatches between the strong teams and the minnows. Some of the games have been complete mismatches and it also hurts the ICC monetarily.
One solution to this could have been to make the minnows play the better teams repeatedly outside the world cup to improve their standards. Instead, the ICC is hell bent on blaming the minnows for the poor show rather then actually trying to help them out. The step to bar them from future world cups is more of a measure to cover their own mistakes.
One can not expect the minnows to win when they are pitted against the best in the world, directly into tournaments of huge significance such as the world cup.
English cricketer Graeme Swann aptly says that by taking these teams out, “you are taking the world out of the world cup”. This decision comes as a huge blow to the game of cricket and its ambitions to become a sport played globally. Besides, it is not that the associate nations have always fared poorly. Kenya reached the semi-finals in the 2003 edition after beating good teams like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In the 2007 edition Ireland caused two big upsets when they beat Pakistan and Bangladesh. It just goes to show that they can perform provided they are given more and more matches to improve and show their prowess.
Hopefully common sense prevails in the ICC and they look at the root of the problem rather than just trying to cover their follies and taking steps in the wrong direction. The game of cricket needs greater participation from more and more countries, barring them will not serve the purpose.