Ireland has given more indication that a move to more or less shut out minnows from the World Cup would be short sighted and regressive © Getty Images
Ireland has given more indication that a move to more or less shut out minnows from the World Cup would be short sighted and regressive © Getty Images

 

By Madan Mohan

 

This is a follow up piece to the one I had written in defense of minnows last week and criticizing ICC’s plans to reduce the number of teams in the World Cup to 10.

 

I guess Ireland’s sensational defeat of England makes an even stronger case to encourage minnow participation in international cricket. Perhaps, there must be uncomfortable, sheepish looks on the faces of those who deemed the presence of the minnows in the World Cup a complete waste of time and an ill-afforded indulgence.

 

Ireland has given more indication that a move to more or less shut out minnows from the World Cup would be short sighted and regressive. On the other hand, ICC must take progressive initiatives to encourage cricket in these nations because there is unmistakable evidence of talent and promise here. The need of the hour is to help teams like Ireland sustain their talents and help them move from staging occasional upsets to more frequent brushing of shoulder with the big boys.

 

We have watched how Kenya and Zimbabwe have slipped a long way from the promise they showed in 2003 and 1999 respectively. It would only be in the interest of cricket if such teams become a force to reckon with and make the field wider and more interesting. It is, of course, easier said than done and it would also not be fair to hold ICC entirely responsible for their progress or lack thereof.

 

But, it has been done before. It was not so long ago that Sri Lanka was not taken seriously as a competitive force, after all. In fact, not before they won the 1996 World Cup, to be precise, after which they have never looked back.

 

The glorious platform of the World Cup must be offered to the minnows to inspire them to punch above their weight in the absence of much international participation outside the World Cup. On the strength of unexpectedly great results in the World Cup, they may hopefully graduate to becoming competitive cricket nations deserving of as much respect as a major cricketing nation.

 

Hand in hand, perhaps the ICC could tweak the Future Tours Program so that the ongoing romance between India and Sri Lanka is put on hold and tournaments where minnows can compete with major teams are arranged – it would at least be about as interesting, I reckon!

 

It is not a very commercially exciting prospect, obviously, for the ICC or any of the cricket boards for that matter. Which is probably it has not been pursued with seriously.  But, as I said in my previous article on this subject, some short-term gains would need to be sacrificed for the long-term betterment (and wealth!) of cricket.

 

(Madan Mohan, a 25-year old CA from Mumbai, is passionate about writing, music and cricket. Writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake)