Dave Richardson missed the 1996 World Cup due to injury © Getty Images
Dave Richardson missed the 1996 World Cup due to injury © Getty Images

Dave Richardson, CEO of International Cricket Council (ICC), has called for a slash in the number of teams in ICC Cricket World Cup from 14 in 2015 to 10 in 2019. Abhishek Mukherjee rubbishes the proposal in an open letter.

Dear Dave Richardson,

Whenever cricket World Cup arrives, I feel sad for you. You were the top wicketkeeper for South Africa when World Cup cricket 1996 happened, but you had managed to break your left index finger. Steve Palframan played the World Cup instead, and never played international cricket again. Unfortunately, you never got to play World Cup cricket anymore, either. Aren’t associate teams competitive enough?

You deserved to play much more at the highest level, but you could not. I know you feel sadder than I do, but then, all that is past. Let us focus on the present now, when you have moved on to become South Africa’s premier gloveman of the 1990s to the CEO of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in the 2000s. When will you take notice of Ireland, Dave Richardson?

You control proceedings now, and have come up with the ridiculous notion of reducing the number of Associate Nations from 14 in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to 10 in ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Since we have only 10 Test sides, the probability of more than one Associate Nation playing at the highest stage becomes abysmally low. Dave Richardson predicts minnows to cause upsets

The World Cup is only nine matches old now. Do you want to know how the Associates have performed? In these, Ireland had beaten West Indies comprehensively at Nelson. Scotland claimed seven New Zealand wickets at Dunedin after being bowled out for 142. UAE looked at Zimbabwe (who fought brilliantly against South Africa at Hamilton) in the eye till at least 90 overs at Nelson. It was only Afghanistan, playing their first World Cup, who lost at Bangladesh. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: POINTS TABLE

Did the big guns fare any better? Sri Lanka lost by 98 runs against New Zealand at Christchurch; England, by 111 runs against Australia at MCG; Pakistan, by 76 runs against India at Adelaide Oval; and now — this: New Zealand dished out an eight-wicket victory with a whopping 226 balls remaining. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: SCHEDULE & MATCH DETAILS

In other words, barring Afghanistan, the big teams have lost by bigger margins than the Associate Nations, who, according to you, will result in more one-sided match. Have you realised, after nine matches, that the facts tell a different story altogether? ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Complete Coverage

Zimbabwe are on the rise again, having beaten Australia last season, competing well against Australia and South Africa, beating Sri Lanka easily in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 warm-up match, and having putting a tight noose around South Africa, only to let them away.

Bangladesh have not been an outstanding team, but that is not because of lack of talent: it has more to do with lack of professionalism than anything else. They do have a bunch of world-class players, with Shakib Al Hasan as the leading all-rounder across formats.

Ireland should have been playing Tests for some years now. They were also the side Scotland thrashed in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 warm-up match. They are talking about granting Test status to Afghanistan. UAE had beaten Afghanistan 3-1 earlier this season.

Of these teams — Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, UAE, Ireland, and Scotland — you want to include only two in the mix for ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Maybe add West Indies and England (this is not an instant reaction to today’s match) and make it four out of eight. Is this how you are going to spread the sport across the world?

Why, oh why should England and West Indies become automatic choices for ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, and not Ireland, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh? Bangladesh has not played a single ODI since December 1, 2014, neither has Zimbabwe. Did you even think how underprepared these sides have been when it came to match practice before your marquee tournament?

Then, when you declare that “Big Eight” get direct entries to ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and the others have to fight for two spots, it hurts. Think of the match practice they have got compared to the Associates, and think how the Associates have outdone several of them. Is this even remotely close to being called fair?

Do you know how every team that has won World Cup cricket has been taunted as “what is the point in winning where only ten teams play?” Why not spread the sport across, making the count go from 10 to 12, to 14, to 16, to 18, and so on? Do you have an idea how enthusiastic budding cricketers in Nepal are? Do you know that by wooing Argentina you can help spread the sport in the continent that does not care for the sport?

Take back your words, Mr Richardson. Please. If anyone knows what it feels like to miss a World Cup and watch a less-deserving candidate take your place, it is you. If anyone knows what it feels like to miss out on playing at the biggest stage despite being worthier than most, it is the South African in you.

If you still do not see sense, then we will have to act. Jarrod Kimber, on ESPNCricinfo, has already threatened he will sell illegal merchandise. As for the rest of the world, we are going to create memes that will get viral on Facebook, tweet vehemently, embed them everywhere, and make you the most trolled candidate in contemporary cricket, and will continue to do the same until you induct more teams into ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

A cricket fan.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)