Wednesday, 6 April 2011

(Bad) Luck of the Irish...

I mentioned in my blog the other day regarding the cricket world cup that the next World Cup is due to have fewer teams in it (compared with the 14 teams in this year's tournament).  Since then the ICC has confirmed that the next two World Cups (2015 and 2019) will feature just 10 teams.  My point about removing an incentive still stands, however it is worse than originally thought, for 2015 there wont even be a qualifying competition, the teams that will compete are already set in stone.  These are the 9 test playing nations and Zimbabwe.  This is incredibly harsh on all of the associate nations who now have no chance of featuring in the show piece event.  

The country who can feel most aggrieved is Ireland.  They performed admirably in the 2007 World Cup beating two test playing nations (Bangladesh and Pakistan) as well as tying with Zimbabwe.  In 2011 they performed arguably better, beating England as well as Holland and never disgracing themselves.  Currently they are ranked 10th in the world in One Day Internationals - one place ahead of Zimbabwe.  

By removing their chances of playing in the World Cup (They would be strong favourites to qualify for any competition) their players have even less incentive to stay with their country of birth.  There are many that get drawn to the bright lights of test cricket (which is still the pinnacle for most who play the game) and the opportunity to participate as part of the England squad.  There is already talk of a few defections to go with the likes of Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce who have previously made the switch (although Ed returned to feature in this World Cup).  

Surely even in their ivory tower those at the top must realise that this is no way to encourage countries like Ireland, Kenya, Canada, Holland, Afghanistan and Scotland who all see the tournament as something to aspire to, to aim for.  I for one want to see cricket expanded into other countries and have as many people in the world playing and watching it as possible.  For too long it's been an elite club, revolving around the British Empire of old, as much encouragement should be given to them as possible. 

Why have more innovative formats not been discussed, the lower ranked teams could play a game first to try and qualify for the next stage where the higher ranked teams would be waiting.  It could be given as much media coverage (a condition on buying the rights to show the tournament) - even cheap tickets could be given (perhaps free to local schools) to ensure a big crowd.  There is also no reason for such a long delay between matches, at least two should be played a day (one day nighter one normal), but in reality you can play more than that, money shouldn't be the most important part of the tournament. I really think people need to pull their fingers out and start thinking through the consequences of their decisions.

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