World Cup March 20, 2007

Thou shalt not knock the minnows

TV viewers might have noticed that commentators have been very chartable to the so-called minnows during this World Cup so far
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TV viewers might have noticed that commentators have been very chartable to the so-called minnows during this World Cup so far. For example, when Zimbabwe were in the Caribbean in May, the experts made no attempt to hide their feelings that they were not fit to play international cricket. But even when they tied with Ireland on Saturday, there was hardly a critical word. And even when Bermuda and Netherlands, for example, have been slaughtered, the men in the box have been remarkably jolly about them.

Robert Craddock, writing in The Australian, thinks he knows why.

It is understood commentators have been told by Global Cricket Corp producers that it frowns on them denigrating the minnows. However, it is deemed acceptable for commentators to call an event a mismatch but not to say some of the nations do not deserve to be in the tournament.

Some commentators who agree with the directive and feel the minnows are a necessary part of global expansion are happy to abide by it. Others, who feel the tournament has been devalued by their presence, would rather speak their mind.

And Craddock concluded by saying that some of the players themselves are aware of the real picture.

The widespread feeling that the minnows are enjoying every moment of their matches against the big boys is wide of the mark. Several Dutch players privately conceded they feel embarrassed by their team's efforts.

Keep your eyes and ears open and see if what you are watching tallies with what you are being told.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aaron Murphy on April 3, 2007, 5:59 GMT

    Fair point, and that's what the Champions Trophy is for - the champions of the world to battle it out. It was a good move to make it an 8-team tournament, and have no sides like the USA. The World Cup is for the minnows.

  • Gordon on March 26, 2007, 13:17 GMT

    As a Scotsman I would have no problem with us playing in the World Cup, but then the ICC Champions Trophy and the 20/20 World Cup being just for the full status sides.

    I believe the ECB should be doing more to assist cricket development in neighbouring countries, there should be Scottish and Irish sides in division 2 of the English County championship. That would improve technique and ability, that would in turn make players better one-day players.

    As we all see really the problem with associate nations is in the batting

  • Aaron Murphy on March 25, 2007, 23:09 GMT

    The World Cup is entitled for these reasons, to show off the entire world of cricket, not perhaps 8 or 9 nations that are so rich or populated that they shall always be up amongst the best (Australia, England, India, etc) - thats whats the Champions Trophy is for. Long live the day when we see a world cup of 16 teams with only 1 or 2 games that result in 200+ run victories, not 5.

    As the Irish proved not once against Pakistan, but twice against Zimbabwe, these unknowns are participating in the World Cup to throw their names onto the global map - I'm sure any Irish fan won't forget a brilliant century from one Jeremy Bray, or that sensational swing from Trent Johnston sailing Ireland into the super 8s (who would have believed it?).

    I personally believe the best way for these minnows to lift their game to the next level is to experience the intensity of a world class match against the best of the best, and take newfound skills and ideas out of these shellackings by the Australians, the South Africans, and so on.

    Couldn't help but notice one ambitious Bangladeshi fan in the crowd against India with a placard displaying

    BANGLADESH - WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS 2014

    Name one commentator who would have acknowledged that sign at the 2003 World Cup, and seen some possibility in it. None. Nowadays, whether their opinions of minnows in the World Cup is positive or not, they would know that that message can happen, the way Bangladesh cricket is rising.

    What these minnow nations need to do to help themselves is focus on the long-term future. Bond together a team of boys in their young 20s as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have done, perhaps integrate it with a couple of veterans, and plan to take it to the next level in a decade rather than straight away. Playing with retired or rejected cricketers in their late 30s/early 40s (eg. Anderson Cummins and the entire USA team) wont work in the first place, nor will it work in 5 years when they'll be retired or playing with walking sticks and false teeth.

    These nations need to help themselves before they can take it to the next level, with a bit of support from the ICC through arranging fixtures and tours in test countries, perhaps playing domestic and A sides, and training sessions with the international cricketers to improve in particular, the abysmal fielding skills shown by them in this World Cup.

    Just my two cents.

  • Anand Nair on March 25, 2007, 12:47 GMT

    Well if you want a 'world cup' with only 8 nations, then don't call it a 'World' Cup.... you can call it a 8-nations championship or Commonwealth Cricket Cup.

  • Peter Borren on March 25, 2007, 12:07 GMT

    As a member of the Netherlands team, I can confirm with certainty that I am not in any way 'embarrassed' by our efforts during the world cup. Our batting could have been better against the two stronger sides, but is conceeding 350 against Aussie on a wicket that flat and a ground that small embarrassing for a team with very little experience, I think not. I hope that the Aus-S.A match may have put things in perspective a little for those observers who can think of nothing better to write than negative columns. How boring and monotonous. Good luck to Ireland in the super eights (a team who incidently came 5th in the recent WCL against the rest of us useless minnows), and to Bangladesh also, good luck. I guess they are the perfect example of what can be achieved with a little open mindedness.

  • Calvin Smith on March 25, 2007, 10:52 GMT

    The only way to expand the level of skill in any game or sport is through organised practice of the fundamentals and competition. The higher the level of competition the greater the probability that the level of skill will improve. The problem faced by organisers who wish to extend the playing of cricket to more countries is how to improve the level of competition in the current world organization of cricket. Improving the level of skill can be achieved on the one hand through academies and enabling the better players from countries who do not have test status to play in the senior leagues of test playing countries. Improving team play will obviously require more contests against the test playing countries at the ODI level. Otherwise, we are playing at claiming we want to expand the playing of cricket.

  • harsha on March 24, 2007, 5:37 GMT

    all hopes on you guys now.if u can beat the bangladeshi's i hope India will get through otherwise it will be worst campaign since 1979. I know most of r supporters of the GREAT INDIAN TEAM.. can u do it for India please.......

  • Eddie on March 23, 2007, 12:16 GMT

    Let's not forget that until very recently Australia v New Zealand was almost unheard of as a game, the 1970's to be precise. In fact, very few teams did play against Australia. They weren't deemed up to scratch. I'm pretty sure Greg Chappell never toured India as a player. This sounds familiar, doesn't it. The Sri Lanka example is the best example of the need to include these teams.

  • Matt Doherty on March 23, 2007, 10:39 GMT

    Excellent points made on this string, but I'll add my 2c worth.

    Take a longer view; the first ICC was in fact the 'Imperial Cricket Council' and comprised Australia, England and (white) South Africa. Can anyone argue that we are not so much the richer for cricket having contributions from more corners of the globe? And that this quintessentially English village game is now 'owned' by cultures far removed from there? Cricket in African townships, Aussie backyards, Indian city streets, West Indian beaches, and more. This is what I find fantastic in cricket's going global, so more power to it.

    Yes there will be mismatches. Is 16 teams too many (I don't think we can go below 14, and 16 is a more workable number of teams)?

    Time will tell. But more power to the 'minnows' say I. And c'mon the Irish!

  • arnold ruzvidzo on March 23, 2007, 9:23 GMT

    cricket is a game of time and exposure ... the Zimbabwean team is going to be together for the next 10 to 15 years so it's probably going to make it just a matter of time and the Irish has shown exactly what the game is made of

  • Aaron Murphy on April 3, 2007, 5:59 GMT

    Fair point, and that's what the Champions Trophy is for - the champions of the world to battle it out. It was a good move to make it an 8-team tournament, and have no sides like the USA. The World Cup is for the minnows.

  • Gordon on March 26, 2007, 13:17 GMT

    As a Scotsman I would have no problem with us playing in the World Cup, but then the ICC Champions Trophy and the 20/20 World Cup being just for the full status sides.

    I believe the ECB should be doing more to assist cricket development in neighbouring countries, there should be Scottish and Irish sides in division 2 of the English County championship. That would improve technique and ability, that would in turn make players better one-day players.

    As we all see really the problem with associate nations is in the batting

  • Aaron Murphy on March 25, 2007, 23:09 GMT

    The World Cup is entitled for these reasons, to show off the entire world of cricket, not perhaps 8 or 9 nations that are so rich or populated that they shall always be up amongst the best (Australia, England, India, etc) - thats whats the Champions Trophy is for. Long live the day when we see a world cup of 16 teams with only 1 or 2 games that result in 200+ run victories, not 5.

    As the Irish proved not once against Pakistan, but twice against Zimbabwe, these unknowns are participating in the World Cup to throw their names onto the global map - I'm sure any Irish fan won't forget a brilliant century from one Jeremy Bray, or that sensational swing from Trent Johnston sailing Ireland into the super 8s (who would have believed it?).

    I personally believe the best way for these minnows to lift their game to the next level is to experience the intensity of a world class match against the best of the best, and take newfound skills and ideas out of these shellackings by the Australians, the South Africans, and so on.

    Couldn't help but notice one ambitious Bangladeshi fan in the crowd against India with a placard displaying

    BANGLADESH - WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS 2014

    Name one commentator who would have acknowledged that sign at the 2003 World Cup, and seen some possibility in it. None. Nowadays, whether their opinions of minnows in the World Cup is positive or not, they would know that that message can happen, the way Bangladesh cricket is rising.

    What these minnow nations need to do to help themselves is focus on the long-term future. Bond together a team of boys in their young 20s as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have done, perhaps integrate it with a couple of veterans, and plan to take it to the next level in a decade rather than straight away. Playing with retired or rejected cricketers in their late 30s/early 40s (eg. Anderson Cummins and the entire USA team) wont work in the first place, nor will it work in 5 years when they'll be retired or playing with walking sticks and false teeth.

    These nations need to help themselves before they can take it to the next level, with a bit of support from the ICC through arranging fixtures and tours in test countries, perhaps playing domestic and A sides, and training sessions with the international cricketers to improve in particular, the abysmal fielding skills shown by them in this World Cup.

    Just my two cents.

  • Anand Nair on March 25, 2007, 12:47 GMT

    Well if you want a 'world cup' with only 8 nations, then don't call it a 'World' Cup.... you can call it a 8-nations championship or Commonwealth Cricket Cup.

  • Peter Borren on March 25, 2007, 12:07 GMT

    As a member of the Netherlands team, I can confirm with certainty that I am not in any way 'embarrassed' by our efforts during the world cup. Our batting could have been better against the two stronger sides, but is conceeding 350 against Aussie on a wicket that flat and a ground that small embarrassing for a team with very little experience, I think not. I hope that the Aus-S.A match may have put things in perspective a little for those observers who can think of nothing better to write than negative columns. How boring and monotonous. Good luck to Ireland in the super eights (a team who incidently came 5th in the recent WCL against the rest of us useless minnows), and to Bangladesh also, good luck. I guess they are the perfect example of what can be achieved with a little open mindedness.

  • Calvin Smith on March 25, 2007, 10:52 GMT

    The only way to expand the level of skill in any game or sport is through organised practice of the fundamentals and competition. The higher the level of competition the greater the probability that the level of skill will improve. The problem faced by organisers who wish to extend the playing of cricket to more countries is how to improve the level of competition in the current world organization of cricket. Improving the level of skill can be achieved on the one hand through academies and enabling the better players from countries who do not have test status to play in the senior leagues of test playing countries. Improving team play will obviously require more contests against the test playing countries at the ODI level. Otherwise, we are playing at claiming we want to expand the playing of cricket.

  • harsha on March 24, 2007, 5:37 GMT

    all hopes on you guys now.if u can beat the bangladeshi's i hope India will get through otherwise it will be worst campaign since 1979. I know most of r supporters of the GREAT INDIAN TEAM.. can u do it for India please.......

  • Eddie on March 23, 2007, 12:16 GMT

    Let's not forget that until very recently Australia v New Zealand was almost unheard of as a game, the 1970's to be precise. In fact, very few teams did play against Australia. They weren't deemed up to scratch. I'm pretty sure Greg Chappell never toured India as a player. This sounds familiar, doesn't it. The Sri Lanka example is the best example of the need to include these teams.

  • Matt Doherty on March 23, 2007, 10:39 GMT

    Excellent points made on this string, but I'll add my 2c worth.

    Take a longer view; the first ICC was in fact the 'Imperial Cricket Council' and comprised Australia, England and (white) South Africa. Can anyone argue that we are not so much the richer for cricket having contributions from more corners of the globe? And that this quintessentially English village game is now 'owned' by cultures far removed from there? Cricket in African townships, Aussie backyards, Indian city streets, West Indian beaches, and more. This is what I find fantastic in cricket's going global, so more power to it.

    Yes there will be mismatches. Is 16 teams too many (I don't think we can go below 14, and 16 is a more workable number of teams)?

    Time will tell. But more power to the 'minnows' say I. And c'mon the Irish!

  • arnold ruzvidzo on March 23, 2007, 9:23 GMT

    cricket is a game of time and exposure ... the Zimbabwean team is going to be together for the next 10 to 15 years so it's probably going to make it just a matter of time and the Irish has shown exactly what the game is made of

  • Jaap Sperling on March 23, 2007, 8:06 GMT

    Even though I would desperately like to see the Netherlands play at the highest level, I do not think it will happen. In a country with 5000-7000 active cricketers, a number that includes everybody from under-6s to over-80s, there will never be the financial support for enough players to focus solely on the sport. I'm not sure if I saw this correctly, but they did not even have any sponsorship on their shirts. And yes, the ECB is failing to support Dutch cricket because there is little to no chance of them being able to pilfer players to play for England (and I still think Ed Joyce should have been cup-tied after helping Ireland qualify).

    Yes, countries like Bangladesh will eventually get to the top; the population is cricket mad and all that's required there is improved infrastructure and continued exposure to the game at the highest level.

    I would love nothing better than to cheer on a Dutch side playing test cricket against the best in the world, but it's just not going to happen.

  • Bernard on March 22, 2007, 23:13 GMT

    You can only imagine the effect that the Cricket World Cup exposure is doing here. For donkeys years cricket has been derided as a sport by a large section of the populace - an opinion reinforced by much of the "popular" media.

    What has happened here is phenomenal. We have played two matches and have 7 more to go. Thats 9 live TV matches on Prime Time TV (if they go the distance!) all showing an Irish Cricket team batting the cream of World Cricket. The prize money of circa $330,000 that the Irish team looks like picking up is peanuts compared to the credibility and respect that the sport is generating.

    2007 has been a time to bury the hatchet in Irish Sport and Irish cricket has come to the party (as Tony Grieg might say).

    I only wish i was 10 again and had the opportunity to play Cricket. But I know many Irish boys and girls in non-cricket households will be taking up the game for the first time this summer.

    As for the Irish players. Before even a follower like myself couldn't put a name to a face. But now the Brays, O'Briens and Morgans are lodged in my memory as fondly as any big name cricketer.

    I will follow the fortunes of Cricket in Ireland with great interest in the next year.

  • Andrew Maina on March 22, 2007, 13:45 GMT

    As has already been pointed out many players, commentators and analysts in the game it having the leading associates exposure to top quality cricket limited to turning up a major tournaments and then hoping that one or two turn in a couple of upset victories is not really going to help spread the game.Those that some have claimed that playing associate nations is not beneficial to the test nations should ask themselves whether a situation where the average test nation can only expect quality opposition from seven odd other test nations(not counting Bangladesh and Zimbabwe cause they can hardly buy quality opposition outside the world cup) is really beneficial to the game. Associate nations need to be playing top quality opposition more often to give the administrators of the game some idea of the level of cricket they need to work for. That the ICC has granted the matches involving the top six associates ODI status and created the World cricket league is a positive step as it gives them a defined path to the top level of one day cricket Perhaps if there existed a similar arrangement for test status like turning the intercontinental cup into a second tier test completion with the winner earning the opportunity to earn a place on the full test circuit it would definitely help spread the game.

  • Peter Blundell on March 22, 2007, 12:25 GMT

    I am an Australian who follows the associate countries progress closely. Several of the commentators when they have been critical of these nations playing the test nations have exposed there own ignorance. They know very little of the individual players and how they have performed over the years with the exception of the occasional standout performer like Tikolo. If commentators did as much home work on the associate teams over an extended period of time (ie years) then they would have too much to say to worry about putting weaker teams down.

    Of course sometimes there will be mismatches, especially against the top couple of teams. Perhaps it is unfortunate that group A ended up as it did. Some might say it is unfortunate that a team like UAE or Namibia might have been stronger than Bermuda but then we would not have had Leverock's catch.

    It has taken about seven years for (some)commentators to stop bagging Bangladesh yet the stats aren't as bad as they would make us believe Bangladesh has never been dismiss for under 100 (in ODI's). Even Australia cant boast that.

    I hope is seven years we are not still debating the attitude to lower ranked teams. One day there might be a world cup with 24 teams - then cricket will truly be global.

  • Warren Carne on March 22, 2007, 5:52 GMT

    I think for the global expansion of the game we need to have the minnows in the World Cup, what concerns me is all these so called 'minnow' sides have chaps in their late 30 to 40's. Yes some have done well but what is the point if half the team retires after this years tournament. I would much rather have youngsters playing then at least they can learn from the 'big teams' and take something out of the World Cup for future tournaments/matches.

  • sathya rau on March 22, 2007, 0:25 GMT

    One of the problems with the super8 format for a 'non-associate' team is that if a minnow qualifies from your group you face a disadvantage in getting to the semis. Everybody in the super8 gets to play Ireland except the West Indies. If Bangladesh qualify for the super8 the Sri Lankans have a problem. This is an obvious limitation of the current setup. Even if the Indians do win the game fair and square it is going to raise eyebrows.

  • Rich B on March 21, 2007, 13:23 GMT

    Having listened to a lot of Radio 4 coverage of the matches, I've not noticed much outright hostility to the presence of the Associate teams. To be fair, though, it would be disgusting if this were to happen in any sport. Can you imagine an athletics commentator laughing at an athlete from, say, the Cayman Islands, coming last in a heat of the 100m?

    The 'Test' system is by its essence elite, and I can understand why its integrity needs to be protected. But there is no excuse for belittling the ODI achievements of minor (and growing) nations.

    Having 6 Associate nations in 2007 is perhaps a stretch for the ICC, but Full Members are only having to play 1 or 2 matches against so-called minnows. The system here is pretty similar to the football World Cup, where most of the favourites get through, but there are one or two upsets. As an Englishman the felling I get going into the Kenya game is very reminiscent of many World and European Cup football games where we're expected to win, but I've a niggling feeling that we won't. This is what makes team sport exciting.

    Besides, the number of mismatches is actually smaller than in 2003, and the Associates are, on the whole, doing a lot better. I think qualification for 2011 will be much more competitive than for 2007, the Associates who qualify will all be significantly better, and these arguments against global development will have been buried for good.

  • Farai Matinenga on March 21, 2007, 13:06 GMT

    I avidly follow Zim cricket and I think growth of cricket on the world stage can only be achieved with this type of exposure.Our young side most of them in their early 20's showed quite some depth despite their relative inexperience. How can growth be achieved without this exposure

  • Rob J McPherson on March 21, 2007, 11:24 GMT

    As a lover of the wonderful game of cricket, I think it is time that the lower ranked nations, the "minnow" nations are shown some support from the established test nations, by being granted A team tours, 4 day matches against A and domestic teams, and at least one major tour per year involving a full test nation. I also agree that 6 associates is too many for the world cup at this stage, although Test status for Kenya should be highly considered, and another team, either Ireland or Scotland should be fast tracked into test status, by giving them the exposure needed

  • Stanley Manohar on March 21, 2007, 3:42 GMT

    Agreed. Exposure helps these teams to learn and perform. And ofcourse they have gone above predictions and brought upset wins like Ireland, Kenya. Both Kenya and Ireland had made it in their first appearence. From there Kenya has gone to beat other major teams and earned ODI status.

    These teams should be allowed to play more ODI among themselves and with big teams. Ireland should be rewarded with ODI status atleast till next World cup or just qualify them for next world cup. This would motivate them and also raise the motivation and confidence of other small teams to perform.

    Kenya should be given Test Status. Only reason for not giving them test status is that they dont have infrastructure there in their country for tests. But providing test status to them would enable them to atleast play test matches against big teams and give them lot of exposure.

  • Kudzai Changunda on March 21, 2007, 2:58 GMT

    I am from Zimbabwe and I tell you I couldn't be prouder of our team at the world. With most of the players between 20 and 23 years of age, that was a good showing. Equally and probably moreso I feel Ireland have shown why expansion should be pushed further.

    The cricket system is classist as it stands. There certainly needs to bne a push to get the affiliates more games at a higher level and much more frequently. Over the last 2 years Zimbabwe has been hammered by the likes of Bangladesh and the Windies, but now they perform with enough fight to show the Windies weaknesses. This is the best case for greater involvement of Ireland, Canada, Netherlands and of course the last world cup's surprise package Kenya.

    Let's have more.

  • Wayne Ball on March 20, 2007, 23:07 GMT

    As a Bermuda Under-21 cricketer i can only express my hope as a competitor and a fan of cricket that they keep the current format. Cricket is a great sport that deserves to be mainstream in the world. Keeping it amung the Test nations is not doing any good for the amount of profits that the game can be making and spreading globally. However as a young cricketer, i have yet to tour England, Australia, India, Bangladesh. Recently i have had the privledge to train in South Africa for the first time but mostly Bermuda plays Canada, Cayman Islands and other small nations that we handle quite easily. If we continue to beat up on the smaller teams and give up huge run totals that we fail to chase down convincingly against the big teams, where is our cricket status going? Some of the older personalities of the game want to keep it segregated from other nations and its unfair. You never hear baseball saying a nation shouldn't be allowed to compete in tournaments, or basketball and football. More money is needed, and more high depth coaching from the larger nations needs to be spread and taught to nations like my country, hopefully in 2011 we be in better form with a young fresh trained team

  • James Whittaker on March 20, 2007, 19:15 GMT

    Agree with the two posters so far. Surely Ireland's win, Bangladesh's victory and some of the performances from the likes of Zimbabwe and Canada, in defeat, have proved the point.

    You have to start from somewhere. Mahela Jayawardene was very good on the subject at the post-match press conference following Sri Lanka's win over Bermuda last week. He said - 'that was us once'. And it was - look back at your records of the 1975 World Cup.

    If in 30 years time, one or two of the Associates being ridiculed at this World Cup, have made even half the progress Sri Lanka has made, we'll have a more competitive global game.

    And if the Test sides actually came to countries like Bermuda and Holland or invited them over for training camps and tours, instead of simply paying lip service to the philosophy, it might happen sooner.

    Hard to believe we still need to have this debate with the prospect of India and Pakistan going home in round one and with the evidence of Bangladesh's progress (a direct result of the exposure they've received) there for all to see.

  • Kenny Roger on March 20, 2007, 18:05 GMT

    I believe that any team as a matter of fact should not be judged by their TEST status. It is sad. Look at Ireland. They may not have chased 133 easily but they showed a lot of character, Niall and Kevin showed their passion for the game. Leverock showed his commitment to the game with that catch and his running between the wickets. If this game has to become truly global, it is high time that such teams be given more exposure regularly !!

  • Nathan on March 20, 2007, 17:39 GMT

    Well said N. Bascome. Certainly it takes time, but as John Davison the captain of Canada, and numerous others have said, the game in these countries needs to atleast go semi-professional, to lift to the next level.

    But to be honest, I do feel 6 associates is too much. And while the ICC's efforts have been preparing them fairly well with tournaments against each other. But it is hard to arrange games for them against bigger teams. And certainly Bermuda is obviously a little out of their depth, to say the least.

    I think leaving it at 14, like the last World Cup, would've been better. But not that it would prevent the other 4 sides from getting beat nearly as bad. But of course we shouldn't go too far the other way and expansion in countries where there is potential should be encouraged.

    This just reflects back to those 2 issues 1) The standard of play will either stagnate or continue to crawl slowly up, unless they develop a more semi-professional-professional set up for their players.

    2) These national teams need to play the bigger sides more often, annually. And need to compete very often at a slightly higher standard then their own, such as a bigger Full Member Country's First Class competition, every season.

    Other aspects like sponsorship and junior development may flow on from that. Local leagues may benefit from the more professional National team players returning and increasing the standard of play in the domestic competition.

  • N. Bascome on March 20, 2007, 15:01 GMT

    Interesting to note that the same was said of the lower ranking teams during the football World Cup. History has shown that with exposure teams who have the dedicated backing of their countries go on to make an impression, and some make it to Test status. The wicket taken by the 17 year old school boy from Bermuda, on his first ball, caught in slips by the biggest man (D. Leverock) in the tournament, of an Indian World Class batsman, will go a long way in the minds of any young person in Bermuda aspiring to any challenges in the game of life.

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  • N. Bascome on March 20, 2007, 15:01 GMT

    Interesting to note that the same was said of the lower ranking teams during the football World Cup. History has shown that with exposure teams who have the dedicated backing of their countries go on to make an impression, and some make it to Test status. The wicket taken by the 17 year old school boy from Bermuda, on his first ball, caught in slips by the biggest man (D. Leverock) in the tournament, of an Indian World Class batsman, will go a long way in the minds of any young person in Bermuda aspiring to any challenges in the game of life.

  • Nathan on March 20, 2007, 17:39 GMT

    Well said N. Bascome. Certainly it takes time, but as John Davison the captain of Canada, and numerous others have said, the game in these countries needs to atleast go semi-professional, to lift to the next level.

    But to be honest, I do feel 6 associates is too much. And while the ICC's efforts have been preparing them fairly well with tournaments against each other. But it is hard to arrange games for them against bigger teams. And certainly Bermuda is obviously a little out of their depth, to say the least.

    I think leaving it at 14, like the last World Cup, would've been better. But not that it would prevent the other 4 sides from getting beat nearly as bad. But of course we shouldn't go too far the other way and expansion in countries where there is potential should be encouraged.

    This just reflects back to those 2 issues 1) The standard of play will either stagnate or continue to crawl slowly up, unless they develop a more semi-professional-professional set up for their players.

    2) These national teams need to play the bigger sides more often, annually. And need to compete very often at a slightly higher standard then their own, such as a bigger Full Member Country's First Class competition, every season.

    Other aspects like sponsorship and junior development may flow on from that. Local leagues may benefit from the more professional National team players returning and increasing the standard of play in the domestic competition.

  • Kenny Roger on March 20, 2007, 18:05 GMT

    I believe that any team as a matter of fact should not be judged by their TEST status. It is sad. Look at Ireland. They may not have chased 133 easily but they showed a lot of character, Niall and Kevin showed their passion for the game. Leverock showed his commitment to the game with that catch and his running between the wickets. If this game has to become truly global, it is high time that such teams be given more exposure regularly !!

  • James Whittaker on March 20, 2007, 19:15 GMT

    Agree with the two posters so far. Surely Ireland's win, Bangladesh's victory and some of the performances from the likes of Zimbabwe and Canada, in defeat, have proved the point.

    You have to start from somewhere. Mahela Jayawardene was very good on the subject at the post-match press conference following Sri Lanka's win over Bermuda last week. He said - 'that was us once'. And it was - look back at your records of the 1975 World Cup.

    If in 30 years time, one or two of the Associates being ridiculed at this World Cup, have made even half the progress Sri Lanka has made, we'll have a more competitive global game.

    And if the Test sides actually came to countries like Bermuda and Holland or invited them over for training camps and tours, instead of simply paying lip service to the philosophy, it might happen sooner.

    Hard to believe we still need to have this debate with the prospect of India and Pakistan going home in round one and with the evidence of Bangladesh's progress (a direct result of the exposure they've received) there for all to see.

  • Wayne Ball on March 20, 2007, 23:07 GMT

    As a Bermuda Under-21 cricketer i can only express my hope as a competitor and a fan of cricket that they keep the current format. Cricket is a great sport that deserves to be mainstream in the world. Keeping it amung the Test nations is not doing any good for the amount of profits that the game can be making and spreading globally. However as a young cricketer, i have yet to tour England, Australia, India, Bangladesh. Recently i have had the privledge to train in South Africa for the first time but mostly Bermuda plays Canada, Cayman Islands and other small nations that we handle quite easily. If we continue to beat up on the smaller teams and give up huge run totals that we fail to chase down convincingly against the big teams, where is our cricket status going? Some of the older personalities of the game want to keep it segregated from other nations and its unfair. You never hear baseball saying a nation shouldn't be allowed to compete in tournaments, or basketball and football. More money is needed, and more high depth coaching from the larger nations needs to be spread and taught to nations like my country, hopefully in 2011 we be in better form with a young fresh trained team

  • Kudzai Changunda on March 21, 2007, 2:58 GMT

    I am from Zimbabwe and I tell you I couldn't be prouder of our team at the world. With most of the players between 20 and 23 years of age, that was a good showing. Equally and probably moreso I feel Ireland have shown why expansion should be pushed further.

    The cricket system is classist as it stands. There certainly needs to bne a push to get the affiliates more games at a higher level and much more frequently. Over the last 2 years Zimbabwe has been hammered by the likes of Bangladesh and the Windies, but now they perform with enough fight to show the Windies weaknesses. This is the best case for greater involvement of Ireland, Canada, Netherlands and of course the last world cup's surprise package Kenya.

    Let's have more.

  • Stanley Manohar on March 21, 2007, 3:42 GMT

    Agreed. Exposure helps these teams to learn and perform. And ofcourse they have gone above predictions and brought upset wins like Ireland, Kenya. Both Kenya and Ireland had made it in their first appearence. From there Kenya has gone to beat other major teams and earned ODI status.

    These teams should be allowed to play more ODI among themselves and with big teams. Ireland should be rewarded with ODI status atleast till next World cup or just qualify them for next world cup. This would motivate them and also raise the motivation and confidence of other small teams to perform.

    Kenya should be given Test Status. Only reason for not giving them test status is that they dont have infrastructure there in their country for tests. But providing test status to them would enable them to atleast play test matches against big teams and give them lot of exposure.

  • Rob J McPherson on March 21, 2007, 11:24 GMT

    As a lover of the wonderful game of cricket, I think it is time that the lower ranked nations, the "minnow" nations are shown some support from the established test nations, by being granted A team tours, 4 day matches against A and domestic teams, and at least one major tour per year involving a full test nation. I also agree that 6 associates is too many for the world cup at this stage, although Test status for Kenya should be highly considered, and another team, either Ireland or Scotland should be fast tracked into test status, by giving them the exposure needed

  • Farai Matinenga on March 21, 2007, 13:06 GMT

    I avidly follow Zim cricket and I think growth of cricket on the world stage can only be achieved with this type of exposure.Our young side most of them in their early 20's showed quite some depth despite their relative inexperience. How can growth be achieved without this exposure

  • Rich B on March 21, 2007, 13:23 GMT

    Having listened to a lot of Radio 4 coverage of the matches, I've not noticed much outright hostility to the presence of the Associate teams. To be fair, though, it would be disgusting if this were to happen in any sport. Can you imagine an athletics commentator laughing at an athlete from, say, the Cayman Islands, coming last in a heat of the 100m?

    The 'Test' system is by its essence elite, and I can understand why its integrity needs to be protected. But there is no excuse for belittling the ODI achievements of minor (and growing) nations.

    Having 6 Associate nations in 2007 is perhaps a stretch for the ICC, but Full Members are only having to play 1 or 2 matches against so-called minnows. The system here is pretty similar to the football World Cup, where most of the favourites get through, but there are one or two upsets. As an Englishman the felling I get going into the Kenya game is very reminiscent of many World and European Cup football games where we're expected to win, but I've a niggling feeling that we won't. This is what makes team sport exciting.

    Besides, the number of mismatches is actually smaller than in 2003, and the Associates are, on the whole, doing a lot better. I think qualification for 2011 will be much more competitive than for 2007, the Associates who qualify will all be significantly better, and these arguments against global development will have been buried for good.