World Cup April 29, 2007

Atherton slams 'ridiculous' numbers of Associates in World Cup

Mike Atherton, the former England captain, has attacked the inclusion of the Associate nations in the 2007 World Cup

In today's Sunday Telegraph Mike Atherton, the former England captain, attacks the inclusion of the Associate nations in the 2007 World Cup. "I think it's ridiculous, the number of Associate Member countries that have been involved. The World Cup should be about showcasing the very best," he said.

His comments are made in a revealing teleconference with Scyld Berry, Ian Chappell, Kumar Sangakkara and Andrew Strauss.

"To go back to the original point, if you look at the Canadian team, they were all ex-Caribbean or ex-Asian players," Atherton said. "This World Cup hasn't done much for cricket in Canada."

Sangakkara was equally disenchanted with the "minnows" represenation. "The game can spread," he said, "but that doesn't mean you have to let other teams into the World Cup and dilute the quality."

So, over to you. Though Ireland undoubtedly did well to get as far as they did, did their and Bangladesh's involvement dilute the overall standards of the tournament? The players from the Associates themselves maintain that the only way they can improve is by playing Full Member nations. Logically speaking, a balance needs to be struck - but how?

Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo

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