April 29, 2007

World Cup

Atherton slams 'ridiculous' numbers of Associates in World Cup

Will Luke

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?

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Posted by Rahul Bernard on (May 7, 2007, 9:29 GMT)

In the next world cup, every team other than Australia should compete with each other for a place in the tournament. After watching the world cup final it felt like Aussies were bashing another minnow.

Posted by Anand Nair on (May 7, 2007, 7:20 GMT)

OK... I fully agree with Sangakkara. We should not dilute the quality. So for that... we should ban Sri Lanka playing WC. The most onesided match (and the most boring) I ever saw was the final between SL and Australia. SL is even below the minnows like Scotland and Netherlands. Both the Scots and Dutch performed much better than the Lankans against the Aussies.

Posted by saifzia on (May 6, 2007, 11:07 GMT)

According to me michel atherton should win the for the biggest fool in the world if he says like this about the minnows. The ICC has done a very good move by including teams like Ireland , Scotland,Bermuda,Netherlands,etc. This will make cricket a centre of talented sportsmen.

Posted by Benny on (May 5, 2007, 3:08 GMT)

The problem with cricket is that it's too traditional. Personally, I find the Irish upset into the Super 8s quite exciting. This kind of thing makes the game exciting. The Super 8s is also way too long. Why do all 8 teams have to play against each other? As for Canada, speaking as a Canadian cricket player, the world cup is the only way for cricket to grow in Canada. There are alot of home-grown talent in Canada. For example, one of the youngest player on Canada, Kevin Sandher grew up in Canada and learned his cricket here. There is a huge potential for Canada. By allowing cricket to grow in Canada and the "minnows", cricket can get more viewership and grow as a global sport.

Posted by Y.Raj on (May 4, 2007, 23:14 GMT)

Jarrod Potter, I am not sure whether you are reading my mind or its the other way around! You hit the nail on the head and you are absolutely correct. With Australia running away with cutting edge technology etc and other teams falling way behind I see cricket audiences declining. I remember the time when West Indies were on top and they were beating others to pulp It was so borring I turned of the TV or Radio. Of course this was no fault of the west indies or now australia, sports now is increasing looked as entaintainment by educated audiences world over. Devoid of real competition and the resultant entertainment factor interest in cricket is going to decline fast. Classic case is the Ashes series. Except for a few die hard fand one bothers about the ashes anymore unlike the 60's & 70's.

Posted by Stascius Wallace on (May 4, 2007, 11:10 GMT)

I am totally disappointed at these comments of dilution of World Cup and ridicule of the inclusion of these associate members in the World Cup. We must remember that inorder for them to even be there, they had to fight very hard among each other. Also, if we were to look very closely at it, some of these teams are showing such promise for the future. Why not say scout out some of these players to try out for spaces in the "recognized" ICC teams and start commending them for their hard work, and in some cases, praising them for the "eye-opening" humiliations that they gave to some recognized teams. We cannot be small-minded when it comes to Cricket. We have to look at the future because I believe that pretty soon some of these Associate teams are going to have a grander showing on the World Stage. When that time come we should not deny them to rite to showcase their abilites because we think that they are not worthy! The performance of the Associates shows us that is high time we work on an developing cricket on a larger scale. It is High time for expansion. To be totally honest, Cricket has reached a point of monotony where you can always tell who the players are on teams. If there be any changes they are very little.

This is a wake-up call for all!!

Posted by Imran A Javed on (May 4, 2007, 10:46 GMT)

As a player participating in the WC, may be to some extent the right combination as far as competition is concerned was not there when you come to think of the Minnows specially talking about Super 8 stage. But come on they competed the best, won matches and then after proving the worth, reached the stage where they were, so to say that they diluted the WC is a bit harsh on there performance.

One suggestion to the ICC. After the World cup what they should do is to carry out the world ranking of all the full member teams. The last 2 teams should be asked to qualify for the next world cup by playing the Associate cup (pre qualification round of the Minnows) and the best 4 of that tournament should then qualify for the WC. This will give a chance to the Minnows to prove there worth at the pre stage and second make the full members more careful in performance ensuring that at the next WC they should not be the one to be at the bottom 2 for another pre qualification. What I am saying is UPGRADE the pre-qualification round for the best interest of the Minnows- Cameron Campbell what do you say.

Posted by Cameron Campbell on (April 30, 2007, 23:26 GMT)

One shouldn't be surprised by Atherton and his elitist comments, which masquerade as concern for the game. If he had his way, the World Cup would be simply, England, Australia, and maybe South Africa. The ICC has enough problems without going back in time to 1912. If anything, the Associates added colour and a bit of genuine human interest to this tournament, a contrast to the corporate face that was placed on this tournament by the ICC. Including more of the smaller countries was one of the few things they have done right. Atherton has no interest in expanding the game, and in the Telegraph piece, he expresses distaste for any smaller countries wanting to take up and help expand the game. The length and other problems of this tournament can hardly be blamed on the Associates. The first round only lasted ten days, it was the Super Eights that dragged on endlessly. Reverting to a simple quarter-final format, or perhaps two smaller groups of four would reduce this portion of the tournament rather easily. As for Canada, if not for the World Cup, many would be unaware of a World Cup going on-Canada's participation meant for daily coverage, at least in major outlets. The World Cup gives some focus for the development of the team, and is absolutely necessary for the game to go forward. The make-up of Canada's team is multicutural, but half the players were born in Canada, and others such as Asish Bagai, essentially learned the game here. Would Atherton care to compare England's multicultural team: Kevin Pietersen, Ed Joyce, soon to be followed by numerous other Irish and South Africans?

Posted by Shartaz on (April 30, 2007, 16:23 GMT)

The only thing devaluating the world cup was Australia's utter dominace!! The ICC could simply handed them the World Cup, instead of hosting on which had no spirit or life.

Posted by Jonathon Quibble on (April 30, 2007, 16:21 GMT)

John Boon, you've hit the nail on the head. I too, am sick to death of the moaning and whining about India and Pakistan missing out on the Super Eights because "they lost one match". Actually, India weren't good enough to beat Sri Lanka and lost to Bangladesh. Pakistan weren't good enough to beat the West Indies and lost to Ireland. Neither side was good enough for the Super Eights - end of story.

Why not make it like the Rugby World Cup and make the true "minnows" qualify from scratch? By that I mean teams that fail to make the last eight of the world cup. That would mean that Ireland and Bangladesh qualify automatically and India and Pakistan will have to beat Bermuda, Scotland. Or perhaps a regional variation where they play off against Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives?

The solution is to retain the format but play two super eights games in one day rather than one.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Luke
Assistant editor Will opted against a lifetime of head-bangingly dull administration in the NHS, where he had served for two years. In 2005 came a break at Cricinfo where he slotted right in as a ferociously enthusiastic tea drinker and maker, with a penchant for using "frankly" and "marvellous". He also runs The Corridor, a cricket blog where he can be found ranting and raving about all things - some even involving the sport. He is a great-great nephew of Sir Jack Newman, the former Wellingtonian bowler who took two wickets at 127 apiece for New Zealand.

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