Ireland and Scotland condemn ICC recommendations
The chief executives of Scotland and Ireland’s cricket governing bodies have condemned plans by the ICC to reduce the number of participants in the World Cup. The CEOs of the major Test-playing nations met in Cape Town earlier this week and included among their recommendations the proposal that only 10 nations should take part in the sport’s premier tournament from 2015 onwards. This scheme makes a mockery of the ICC’s claims that it is committed to establishing a structure to help the emerging Associate sides.
“Can the world’s "second biggest" sport really only have 10 teams in its World Cup, when football has 32 and rugby has 20,” said Roddy Smith, the chief executive of Cricket Scotland. “The cricket development reasons are very strong against it and all other major sports are expanding, not contracting, their World Cups. “[If it happens] A 10-team World Cup must have a qualification element. I would suggest that the bottom two Full Members [currently Bangladesh and Zimbabwe] join the top six or eight Associates in an eight or 10-team event for the final two places for the 2015 event. You cannot have a true World Cup if only 10 teams out of 105 countries are eligible to compete in it.”
His words were echoed by Warren Deutrom, his counterpart in Ireland, who argued forcibly that the ICC is making a serious error of judgment, not least because there is growing evidence that Associate countries such as Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands, are perfectly capable of beating the likes of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe on the ODI stage.
“To say that, effectively, there are just 10 countries who can compete successfully in the ODI format flies in the face of all recent indicators –most obviously illustrated by the presence of Associates [Kenya and Ireland] in the last eight of the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, by Ireland’s current position of 10th in the ODI rankings and the fact that Bangladesh lost to the Netherlands and Ireland as recently as July,” said Deutrom.
“These results have occurred because of the ICC’s own investment in a High Performance Programme, which was designed to facilitate the visible emergence of a second tier of nations. It is surely illogical to improve the quality of these countries and then deny them access to the most obvious vehicle to showcase that success.
“I would urge the ICC Board – indeed I hope they regard it as their duty – to focus on a broader discussion about the World Cup’s philosophy, rather than see it strictly as a discussion about commercial appeal to sponsors and broadcasters. We would urge the Board to at least defer a decision until after the 2011 event [which features 14 countries], to see whether such a drastic move is justified on cricketing grounds, let alone the broader principles of what a true, credible World Cup should be about.”
The ICC plans to increase the number of participants in future World Twenty20 tournaments from 12 to 16, but that is merely a sop, designed to placate the Associates, without any consideration for the bigger picture. By any other criteria, this is an addle-headed volte-face of all the missionary work done by the ICC in the last decade.