Bye bye Ireland: What the ICC doesn't see
The ICC's decision to exclude Ireland from World Cup 2015 is unfair. Ireland has worked hard and should be included.
With its decision to exclude Ireland from the 2015 World Cup, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is hearkening back to the days when it was called the Imperial Cricket Council - when the 'natives' had to prove themselves to stand at the top table of world cricket.
In those times, it was India and Pakistan who had to fight for the right to have legitimate Test tours and deference was given to other Test teams. This time around, it is the Emerald Isle who is the victims of the ICC's Ejaz Butt-esque levels of incompetence.
Instead of encouraging Irish cricket and assisting in improving the domestic cricketing structure there, the ICC is, as usual, hell-bent on chasing the quick buck.
Further, this decision made by the ICC is inherently inconsistent. Ireland are ranked 10 in the ICC ODI rankings and there are supposed to be 10participants for the next two World Cups. Should be straightforward, shouldn't it?
Not with the ICC - apparently the 10 'Test' teams will qualify for the ODI World Cup. That means that the next World Cup will not have the fastest century maker in the history of the tournament in Kevin O'Brien whose 50-ball blitz was not just a fluke but a well-crafted exposition of power-hitting. We will also not see the talents of Ryan ten Doeschate, who scored two centuries in six games with one of them a blistering effort against England.
Ashish Bagai, captain, ex-investment banker, graceful batsman and arguably the best wicket-keeper at the tournament will not be seen again on the world stage. This will be nothing short of a travesty, particularly when one considers that we will still have Zimbabwe - who were absolutely atrocious, at the next installment of the global event.
Ireland deserve to play
Ireland have worked long and hard to get to the World Cup. On the way there have been close, heart-breaking, spirit-crushing losses to the likes of Bangladesh and Scotland amongst others.
Nonetheless, they have stuck to their guns and put a system in place that is arguably ahead of the domestic structure in place in Bangladesh when they were awarded Test status.
Irish cricket also has the double-edged sword of a high-class cricketing environment in neighbouring England, where a number of their players play county cricket. This list includes Eoin Morgan (now of England), Ed Joyce (at one time an England player), Niall O'Brien, 18-year old George Dockrell and fast bowler Boyd Rankin.
The lack of Test cricket in Irish colours is instrumental in pushing young, budding Irish cricketers towards a Test future with other teams such as England.
Other sports do it
Football and rugby are two other sports which incorporate a significant proportion of 'minnows' at their international events - margins of defeat are probably less severe in football these days due to the globalsation of the game yet you still get evident mismatches.
Rugby World Cups have seen teams like Georgia and Japan getting massacred by the bigger teams yet they do not exclude them from the marquee event. In fact, one of the recent world cups saw Takudzwa Ngwenya, a Zimbabwe-born winger from the USA - a relatively weaker team than South Africa, outpace Brian Habana, one of the quickest wingers to play rugby. Such upsets are rare but invaluable in any sport.
Through the complete exclusion of all associate teams from the next cricket World Cup, will de-motivate the talented players in those teams and will deprive us of the chance to celebrate victories such as those of Ireland over England.
Knocks such as Kevin O' Brien's innings or John Davison's 67-ball effort against the West Indians in 2003 will be missed. And this is nothing short of a travesty.