'World Cup should have 10 best teams' - CA
Co-hosts Australia want the 2015 World Cup to be contested by the 10 teams that most deserve to be there, and will state that position when the ICC reconsiders the tournament format at its annual conference in Hong Kong.
The initial decision to simply allow cricket's 10 Full Member nations, including the struggling Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, to take their places at the next World Cup without any kind of qualification process was met with global indignation. However the ICC president Sharad Pawar has flagged a reconsideration of the wishes of the Associate nations, including 2011 tournament bright sparks Ireland, meaning several possibilities are now on the table for the June meeting.
"Our starting point on ICC Events has always been that qualification should be based on merit," a Cricket Australia spokesman told ESPNcricinfo.
"We support moving to a 10-team ICC World Cup in 2015 and longer term, support moving to ICC World Cups which are 10-team contests based on merit, [like] the top 10-ranked nations in the world. The ICC has discussed reviewing the position on 2015 and we will be an interested participant [both as an ICC member and also as a co-host] in that discussion."
Options include an expansion of the number of competing teams from 10 to the 2011 model of 14 or the more likely choice of 12, or simply the addition of a qualifying tournament between the best two Associate nations and the stragglers among the Full Members. Such a solution is clearly Cricket Australia's preference, for administrators have begun plotting the 2015 event with New Zealand based on a 10-team plan.
New Zealand coach John Wright joined the already loud chorus asking for a qualification process for the 2015 World Cup. In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Wright said, "The World Cup has got to be about the world - they (the ICC) have to be sure they have got the ten best teams in it. No matter where they come from. Otherwise it's a nonsense. Surely it doesn't take eight years to sort that one out."
Wright cited Ireland's example saying the team had been, a "revelation" in the World Cup, where New Zealand played the supposed minnows in a warm-up match. He said, "Ireland have shown they can knock over big sides. There needs to be some incentive for the (Associate) teams to get the opportunity to play in the World Cup."
During the World Cup, ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat had said that the ICC Board would meet in May to decide on the qualification format of the 10-team 2015 World Cup. Two days after the final of the 2011 World Cup though, the ICC Board announced that the 2015 tournament would include the ten full members with qualification coming into play only in 2019. Following criticism around the cricket world and a request by the Associates, the ICC has announced that it would "revisit" the decision to shut the Associates out of the 2015 event.
Numerous Associate nations have also reacted angrily to the suggestion that a reduced field for the 50-over World Cup is effectively counter-balanced by the expansion of the World Twenty20 event to 16 teams. However CA remain certain that Twenty20 can be used to grow the game in developing countries, despite its lack of the subtleties available in Test and limited-overs cricket.
"James [Sutherland, CA chief executive] has always argued that ICC Events should be assessed in the full context of the ICC World Cup and ICC Twenty20 World Championship," the spokesman said.
"In keeping the ICC World Cup tight [which is what fans want], it is on the basis that the ICC Twenty20 can be run as a tight event with, say, the top 16. Twenty20 offers the top 16 an ideal chance to develop, progress, develop international success and profile."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo