World Cup 2011: Separating men from the boys
Can the ICC not come up with a better format than reducing the next World Cup teams to 10?
Is the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to reduce the next World Cup to 10 teams really the way forward?
Is this really as far as the sport’s governing body is concerned about making it a truly global game? Are they dumping the associates and hoping that one day we would have 16-team tournaments with each one of them being the best in the business, representing a continent or region, like football?
The ICC has been trying to increase the number of Test-playing nations for almost 20 years now. But the only additions have been Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, with the latter no longer in the list either. So the list has actually shrunk.
I think one problem is the formats: There are too many. There might be other sports out there but offhand, I can’t think of any which has so many main-stream formats. Take any top sport – football, hockey, basketball, table tennis or tennis – they are played with just one format.
You don’t have to keep changing gears all the time to adjust from Tests to One-Day Internationals (ODIs) to Twenty20s. And unless you’re a Test-playing nation, there is no way you are going to get the opportunity to play regularly against the big boys, and consequently you won’t get the chance to improve.
And why is that the top teams are the Test playing teams but the World Cup is a one-day format?
Keep the ODI World Cup, the World Twenty20 but there is no reason to not create regular regional tournaments that are played every year so that all associate members get a chance to play the top teams in least two tournaments a year. Like a Euro League and an Asia League. Or a league that incorporates Europe and the Americas.
This could bring together teams like England, the West Indies, Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland among others on a regular basis and allow the weaker teams to rub shoulders with their stronger peers.
We can’t just have the big guns competing against each other all year round and expect cricket to grow.
And we need more players from unknown but potential cricket giants like Netherlands, Ireland and Kenya to start playing across the world. Why do we just have county cricket which is an option for players to get some international flavour?
I know that host nations themselves are to blame for this, but the ICC also needs to change its attitude. While it is ready to jump on the bandwagon and lend immediate support to cash-cows like the Indian Premier League, what about working seriously to ensure that there is more international exposure for players from newer cricketing nations in countries like Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka?
There are examples in football like Samuel Eto, Adebayor, Didier Drogba and many others who honed in their skills in club football and then took that same experience back to their home countries. The impact is undeniable.
It’s high time the ICC stepped up.