Outsiders rage against trimming World Cup to 10-team contest

New Delhi, February 13, 2011

Ireland’s stunning defeat of Pakistan in 2007 and Kenya’s run to the 2003 semi-finals sent shockwaves through the World Cup.

They are also in danger of becoming museum pieces as efforts intensify to cut the fat from a 14-team tournament which stretches over six, exhausting weeks, by trimming it to a slimmer 10-nation contest.

It’s a proposal the International Cricket Council are looking at, but it’s one which terrifies the second-tier Associate members who believe they are being muscled out in an effort to make the World Cup a virtual private club made up of Test-playing nations.

Sixteen teams took part in the widely-criticised 2007 World Cup. There are two less this time around with 10 the maximum in 2015.

“To remove the opportunity of playing in a World Cup, the icing on the cake for non-Test cricketers, would slowly kill the sport in associate nations,” Tim de Leede, a Netherlands selector and veteran of three World Cups, told the Wisden Cricketer.

“The ICC needs to make up its mind if it is serious about developing the game.

“The associate nations exceeded expectations in recent World Cups, with Kenya reaching the semi-finals in 2003 and Ireland progressing to the Super Eights in 2007. The success of the underdogs provided some of the most exciting drama of those tournaments.”

That opinion is backed up by Collins Obuya, who was part of the famous 2003 Kenya team and who will playing in the 2011 World Cup which starts on Saturday.

“The ICC needs to move away from the mentality that cricket is an exclusive old boys club for the full members,” he said.

“If it is serious in wanting the sport to grow, it cannot close the door on associates. The World Cup provided me with a platform for a professional career and others deserve the opportunity to be challenged against the world s leading teams.”

Ironically, a poll on the ICC s website showed 73 percent in favour of a 16-team World Cup in 2015 with only nine percent supporting a 10-team competition.

Despite the fears of the Associates – the batch of nations just below Test status – the ICC insist limiting the number of teams for the 2015 World Cup to 10 is merely a proposal.

Furthermore, they say, the qualifying procedure for the event has yet to be finalised.

“How the 10 members are to be determined is still to be decided. It could be the full members only but it could be not”, said the ICC’s general manager for cricket, David Richardson.

Part of the proposal would see Associates given a better chance of making the World Twenty20 with the number of teams taking part there increased to 16.

Fans have bombarded cricket Internet sites, criticising a proposal which could leave sides like the ever-improving Afghanistan left out in the cold.

“It’s sad to think that the privileged few are filling their pockets while cricket’s unsung volunteers in many countries cut bat shapes from trees and have to beg for second hand equipment…,” wrote one fan in a chatroom.

Another insisted that if the big boys got knocked out early in a new-look format, then it would be justice.

“Far too many games – just what is wrong with having four groups of four, top two qualify for the quarter finals – no ridiculous Super 6 or 8. It could be run in less than a month. If India/Pakistan gets knocked out early – TOUGH.”

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