The 2015 Cricket World Cup has provided plenty of satisfying action on the oval, but with the admirable and often pleasantly surprising performances of upstart nations such as Afghanistan, Ireland and Scotland, the decision by the International Cricket Council to bar those nations from the 2019 Cup competition is coming under fire, with top ex-players declaring that the ICC is moving in exactly the wrong direction.
The 2019 Cricket World Cup, the 12th World Cup tournament in the sport, will be held in England and Wales — but will include only the 10 test playing nations, with associate countries shut out.
That means, no Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Scotland or Afghanistan in the 2019 tournament.
“All this talk about 10 teams for future World Cups is absolute bonkers,” wrote former top New Zealand batsman Martin Crowe, in an article on the ESPN Cricinfo site. “We must think bigger instead of smaller. We must plan a competition that truly expands the game, and keeps it prominent in people’s minds for long periods. We must design a World Cup that takes cricket to a new level of exposure and support.”
Crowe called for an expanded tournament, including a pre-finals qualification round, that would include such marginal cricket-playing nations as the United States, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Bermuda and others.
After the initial tournament eliminates several teams, an 18-team field would remain, Crowe says, playing a “World Series League” that would span 10 weeks of matches.
The top eight remaining teams would qualify for the World Cup knockout rounds.
“Mostly the event will grow the game, allowing the lesser lights more exposure while ensuring a champion is found with no chance of luck playing too great a part,” Crowe said. “The 2019 World Cup winner will indeed have deserved the crown, more than any other World Cup winner in sport.”
Crowe’s sentiments were echoed by former India great Sachin Tendulkar, who on Wednesday ripped the ICC decision as a “backward step” for the international popularity of cricket.
“As a cricketer I want the game to be globalized as much as possible and, according to me, this is a backward step,” said Tendulkar. “We’ve got to find ways of encouraging the lesser teams.”
The former India captain declared that the Cricket World Cup, rather than trimming to 10 teams, should actually expand to 25.
“The lesser teams have, in each and every World Cup, always surprised top teams. And they can do it on a consistent basis only if they’re given a fair platform to express their talent,” he said.
As the 2015 Cricket World Cup table stands as of Thursday, only Ireland among the Associate Nations has a realistic shot of qualifying for the knockout round, sitting with four points with three matches remaining. But those three matches come include contests against Test Playing powerhouses India and Pakistan.
[Image: Martin Hunter/Getty Images]