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
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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rahul Bernard on May 7, 2007, 8:29 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.

  • Anand Nair on May 7, 2007, 6:20 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.

  • saifzia on May 6, 2007, 10:07 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.

  • Benny on May 5, 2007, 2:08 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.

  • Y.Raj on May 4, 2007, 22:14 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.

  • Stascius Wallace on May 4, 2007, 10:10 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!!

  • Imran A Javed on May 4, 2007, 9:46 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.

  • Cameron Campbell on April 30, 2007, 22:26 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?

  • Shartaz on April 30, 2007, 15:23 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.

  • Jonathon Quibble on April 30, 2007, 15:21 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.

  • Rahul Bernard on May 7, 2007, 8:29 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.

  • Anand Nair on May 7, 2007, 6:20 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.

  • saifzia on May 6, 2007, 10:07 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.

  • Benny on May 5, 2007, 2:08 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.

  • Y.Raj on May 4, 2007, 22:14 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.

  • Stascius Wallace on May 4, 2007, 10:10 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!!

  • Imran A Javed on May 4, 2007, 9:46 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.

  • Cameron Campbell on April 30, 2007, 22:26 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?

  • Shartaz on April 30, 2007, 15:23 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.

  • Jonathon Quibble on April 30, 2007, 15:21 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.

  • Jarrod Potter on April 30, 2007, 15:19 GMT

    In reply to the comments that mayank kohli made, it's not the ICC's fault if the United States of America Cricket Association can't keep it's promises about their own constitution and elections. Give power to the MLC who seem to at least have a clue about the administration of grassroots cricket in the States.

    On topic, I was extremely impressed with the minnows this year. They made this World Cup far more interesting than the Test 10 did.

    Zimbabwe/India/Pakistan/West Indies - Useless England - Underperformers South Africa - Chokers under pressure New Zealand - Semi Final Specialists Sri Lanka - Untapped potential leading nowhere Australia - Cantered to victory leading to boring cricket

    The only team in the Test 10 that can claim a reasonable World Cup is Bangladesh by beating two of the other nine. I was extremely interested in the efforts of Bangladesh and Ireland in the Super 8s, as they showed some grit, and determination unlike the extreme folding of sides like RSA (5-26, should've been 6-fer if Bucknor wasn't useless) and England. (Cite their games against Bangladesh and Ireland)

    Seems as well that the minnows always create the legends of the World Cup. In 2003 it was John Davison and Roland Lefebvre, and now it's Ryan ten Doeschate and Dwayne Leverock. These guys appreciate the world stage as they haven't become sedate and acclimatised to the spotlight.

    The minnows are grateful for spots in the World Cup, unlike the Test 10, based upon the efforts they put forward in the Carribean.

    Give me the Intercontinental Cup over the World Cup, at least there are fresh faces and interesting talents developing there.

  • Viswa Adithya on April 30, 2007, 9:17 GMT

    This world cup has been too boring and dragging...Even though a minnow like Ireland was able to defeat powerhouse like Pakistan , it doesn't mean that so many minnows should be allowed to participate in an event of World cup's stature...One should also look at the same Ireland team that got a thrashing at the hands of Srilanka..ICC is looking only at the commercial aspect of the game rather than its welfare..By organising a long world cup like this Cricket's losing its followers rather than gaining anything..The World cup should have only 8 or at the most ten teams participating in it..this will surely ensure better following..

  • vinayak on April 30, 2007, 6:02 GMT

    If the ICC wants to globalize this game "CRICKET" then the Minnows must be allowed to play atleast with lower rankings of "TEST" playing nations like Bangladesh,zimbabwe.They will improve only if they play more & more matches.

  • john boon on April 30, 2007, 1:16 GMT

    I am so sick of people saying that pakistan and india shouldn't have been knocked out because they only lost once. are people forgetting that pakistan also lost to the windies and india to sri lanka? secondly, the most over blown phase of the competition is the super 8s. why not make the world cup knockout after the group stages? or have two groups of four? follow the lead of the football world cup. it would have been far better had the world been as follows: group stages as is, two groups of four as follows: group 1: west indies, australia, england, bangladesh. Group 2 Sri Lanka, new zealand, south africa, ireland. semi final, final. you wouldn't even need to carru your points through which is ridiculous anyway. does anyone think it would be less legitimate had australia won by that format? i certainly don't.

  • Rich B on April 29, 2007, 23:52 GMT

    The ICC pushed the boat out a bit this time with 16 teams, but were rewarded with some improved performances from 2003. This is vindication for the increased money being spent on the top Associates.

    I think the Associates will continue to improve and there will be 16 competitive teams in 2011.

    Actually 18 teams would be ideal looking further into the future - 3 groups of 6 feeding super sixes means eveyone gets a chance but only the very best get to the second round.

  • Nafi Karim on April 29, 2007, 22:56 GMT

    To reply to Peter Musasia, 1st this wasn't the most boring world cup because of "minnows" because there were one-side games in most of the games including the top 8 games and the most interesting part of the world cup was Ireland, a so called "minnow" defeating Pakistan. 2nd, Bangladesh and Ireland didn't spoil it, India and Pakistan spoiled it by not qualifying. What is this? Had none of the associates qualified, then you people would be saying what's the point of the group stage; they have qualified and proved that they belong there you bash them by saying they spoiled the fun? No, India and Pakistan did for the respective fans. 3rd, there are die hard fans in the Caribbean too not just India and Pakistan. No it's not evident that the top teams be left alone because cricket will never survive being played in 8 countries. The "minnows" do have their own tournament, it's called the World Cricket League. And so do the top 8 teams, it's called the Champions trophy. But this is the world cup not the elite cup.

    To reply to mayank kohli, the ICC suspended USA because we had a dysfunctional cricket board. The ICC put a lot of money to improve cricket here through the USA project but our board just broke down and it was waste of money. So it is smart for the ICC to stop the funding until we have a real board that's good for the game and will be committed to spreading the game here.

  • mayank kohli on April 29, 2007, 20:38 GMT

    I am from USA and I especially do not like how the ICC is ignoring us. Canada has hosted a number of ODI matches yet USA has zero. We have NO facilities and NO grounds. One more thing, sure we also have ex-players on our team as well but without them we would have nothing. Nobody wants to spread the game here. I have also seen in Wikipedia that USA has only played 4 first class matches and 21 one day domestic matches and 2 ODI matches. WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO EXPOSURE HERE. In the club team I play for, my whole team is either Indians or Pakistanis with the exeption of our British wicket keeper. This is absolutely ridiculous. How are we to do good in cricket when no American knows one thing about it?

  • Peter Musasia on April 29, 2007, 20:09 GMT

    After following the just concluded yet uneventful world cup, several issues seem to stand out. First is to blame the "minnows" for the most boring world cup ever. Second, is to blame Bangladesh and Ireland for sending Pakistan and India Parking hence spoiling the well planned and anticipated party of world cup without the minnows. And Thirdly to blame the location of the world cup being in the carribean where it is to far for the diehard supporters to reach. It is evident that the top nations need to be left alone. Its time the so called associate or minnows so to speak organize and run there own cricket. Its time to stop the blame game and let us come up with a different body that is all encampassing and wish to spread this game for the love of the game and leave the "top" nations to enjoy playing each other.

  • Rahul on April 29, 2007, 20:04 GMT

    The World Cup, by definition is the participation of countries of the would in a given event. The World Cup is not a tournament consisting of 8 countries that have been grandfathered in as the elite 8. The World Cup is about the globaliztion of cricket; look at the enthusiasm generated by the football World Cup consisting of 32 teams. Thats right, 32 teams from all corners of the world! Frankly, it is depressing and sad to see former and current players, coaches and TV personalities who are also considered the ambassadors for the game bash teams/countries that are championing cricket in their respective countires. First off, these countries are referred to as minnows; I (India, Pakistan and South Africa can atest through experience) prefer to see them as piranha's. In this edition of the World Cup, we shaw world class performances by the Irish and Bangladeshi teams; the last cup produced a tenucious Kenyan team that reached the SEMI-FINALS. I say that the top associates should be included in ODI tournaments and allowed and pushed to tour the elite 8 to groom their talents and gain exposure. It is obvious that people like Holding (West Indies is a compilation of minnow-esque countries), Atherton (England, How many World Cups have you won?) and Sangakkara (Sri Lanka just had their bottoms handed to them) need to look at the bigger picture and broaden their horizons.

  • Chris on April 29, 2007, 18:14 GMT

    I'm speaking from the point of view of a Scot here; associates need to be in the world cup

    it's one of the few crickiting events they are exposed to, they need it if the icc are going to succeed in their globalising cricket plan

    you cant class a tournament as a world cup if only eight teams are in it

    certainly bermuda and canada are poor sides in comparison with the giants of cricket, and the dutch played well below par against the two test nations (but still, they weren't entirely humiliated), but if they dont get oppertunities here they will come nowhere.

    the solution lies with the icc allowing more matches for associate countries. at the moment they 'encourage' test sides to play them. why not say to test sides okay guys, you have to play (for example) ireland, scotland, kenya, and the netherlands atleast once in a period of five years. they could even use matches like these to accustomise themselves to conditions in forreign continents (i.e like pakistan played scotland when they came to tour england)

    but the main problem is funding. zimbabwe get 20 times the amount of funding from the icc as the top associates. if associates can contract say 6 players, it would make them a hugely better side, and eventually work out in icc's favour because they'll get more money (not that they need it at the moment) from increase in matches played between these countries.

    so in the end, what (in my oppinion) is needed, is for the icc to shove their hands in their pockets, fork out a few pennies and allow the associates to have full time proffessionals. then the world cup will be a more closely fought contest anyway.

    p.s. i think its great that scotland are playing in the english county 2nd XI tournament now, it provides a great platform for the younger players. the icc need to step in and ensure that this sort of thing is happening on a wide scale

  • Andrew Maina on April 29, 2007, 16:27 GMT

    A number of nations with associate membership in the ICC break their backs preparing teams for ICC trophy qualificatons proving themselves to be the best of the rest in order to earn the right to share the wonderous opportunity of representing their home or adopted nation at a world cup and what thanks do they get for their efforts. Condemnation from persons who's own success in the game comes in no small part from being born in a country blessed with massive cricket resources and a certain thing called test status and . If this is the kind attitude the the people working hard on the ground trying to spread the game to all parts of the world are to be faced with then what gives, they may as well give up and let the more 'deserving' test nations keep cricket to themselves.

  • sharif on April 29, 2007, 16:10 GMT

    the reality is anyone except australia diluting the quality of cricket. look at the world cup final .... no contest ... australia won by miles. the two world cup 2007 semi-finals ... two most worst matches i have seen in 15 years!!

  • Aonghus Mullins on April 29, 2007, 15:21 GMT

    i think that the best of the associate sides should be included in the World Cup, buit the emphasis has to be on "the best". No offence to bermuda but they are the minnows of the minnows. i think that Bangladesh Zimbabwe Ireland Kenya anf the other Associate sides should compete in the year leading up to the world cup for 4 places in the tournament proper along with the top 8 test sides.

  • Darren on April 29, 2007, 14:36 GMT

    I would have thought after the debacle that has been the last 47 days there would have been bigger issues than bashing the minnows, yet again, but after the proceedings last night I'm not surprised by anything any more.

    How can an event be called a "world" cup if it becomes invitation-only? There is already a 10-member one day competition, it is called the Champions trophy, and what a spectacular event it is.

    The argument about diluting quality is just an attempt to justify the obvious elitism here. I will agree that the associates don't benefit from repeated floggings at the hands of Test playing countries, and their development depends not so much on this sort of exposure but on more fundamental changes to their respective grass-roots structures. Excluding them from the World Cup, however, would destroy any incentive for people to take up the game.

    Much like the game's administrators, these critics seem to be losing the focus of the event - participation. For every drubbing there is a John Davison whirlwind, a spell of brilliance from an Aasif Karim, a Dwayne Leverock blinder. These moments are certainly worth the involvement of these teams, small as it was at 10 of the 47 days.

    As for the standards, the majority of the matches raised questions about standards among the top ten teams. You don't need to look back any further than the semi-finals. Sangakkara would do well to remember where Sri Lanka came from in 1979. If Atherton was serious about showcasing the "very best", his mob of drunken toilers masquerading as professionals would not have cleared Heathrow, and the less said about the original minnow-basher Michael Holding's sorry compatriots, the better. The Netherlands conceded less runs against Australia than South Africa (who were also nutted by Bangladesh), and restricted Matthew Hayden to his lowest score of the tournament. As an unfortunate spectator at the New Zealand-West Indies match in Antigua, I can honestly say I got a lot more enjoyment out of the Scotland-Netherlands match.

    Continued improvement of the minnows depends on managing the dilemma of amateur players now having to commit to international schedules, a situation highlighted by the retirement of Daan van Bunge. As far as the World Cup is concerned, a reduction to 3 or 4 teams is probably warranted, but excluding these teams is definitely unjustified and unfair.

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  • Darren on April 29, 2007, 14:36 GMT

    I would have thought after the debacle that has been the last 47 days there would have been bigger issues than bashing the minnows, yet again, but after the proceedings last night I'm not surprised by anything any more.

    How can an event be called a "world" cup if it becomes invitation-only? There is already a 10-member one day competition, it is called the Champions trophy, and what a spectacular event it is.

    The argument about diluting quality is just an attempt to justify the obvious elitism here. I will agree that the associates don't benefit from repeated floggings at the hands of Test playing countries, and their development depends not so much on this sort of exposure but on more fundamental changes to their respective grass-roots structures. Excluding them from the World Cup, however, would destroy any incentive for people to take up the game.

    Much like the game's administrators, these critics seem to be losing the focus of the event - participation. For every drubbing there is a John Davison whirlwind, a spell of brilliance from an Aasif Karim, a Dwayne Leverock blinder. These moments are certainly worth the involvement of these teams, small as it was at 10 of the 47 days.

    As for the standards, the majority of the matches raised questions about standards among the top ten teams. You don't need to look back any further than the semi-finals. Sangakkara would do well to remember where Sri Lanka came from in 1979. If Atherton was serious about showcasing the "very best", his mob of drunken toilers masquerading as professionals would not have cleared Heathrow, and the less said about the original minnow-basher Michael Holding's sorry compatriots, the better. The Netherlands conceded less runs against Australia than South Africa (who were also nutted by Bangladesh), and restricted Matthew Hayden to his lowest score of the tournament. As an unfortunate spectator at the New Zealand-West Indies match in Antigua, I can honestly say I got a lot more enjoyment out of the Scotland-Netherlands match.

    Continued improvement of the minnows depends on managing the dilemma of amateur players now having to commit to international schedules, a situation highlighted by the retirement of Daan van Bunge. As far as the World Cup is concerned, a reduction to 3 or 4 teams is probably warranted, but excluding these teams is definitely unjustified and unfair.

  • Aonghus Mullins on April 29, 2007, 15:21 GMT

    i think that the best of the associate sides should be included in the World Cup, buit the emphasis has to be on "the best". No offence to bermuda but they are the minnows of the minnows. i think that Bangladesh Zimbabwe Ireland Kenya anf the other Associate sides should compete in the year leading up to the world cup for 4 places in the tournament proper along with the top 8 test sides.

  • sharif on April 29, 2007, 16:10 GMT

    the reality is anyone except australia diluting the quality of cricket. look at the world cup final .... no contest ... australia won by miles. the two world cup 2007 semi-finals ... two most worst matches i have seen in 15 years!!

  • Andrew Maina on April 29, 2007, 16:27 GMT

    A number of nations with associate membership in the ICC break their backs preparing teams for ICC trophy qualificatons proving themselves to be the best of the rest in order to earn the right to share the wonderous opportunity of representing their home or adopted nation at a world cup and what thanks do they get for their efforts. Condemnation from persons who's own success in the game comes in no small part from being born in a country blessed with massive cricket resources and a certain thing called test status and . If this is the kind attitude the the people working hard on the ground trying to spread the game to all parts of the world are to be faced with then what gives, they may as well give up and let the more 'deserving' test nations keep cricket to themselves.

  • Chris on April 29, 2007, 18:14 GMT

    I'm speaking from the point of view of a Scot here; associates need to be in the world cup

    it's one of the few crickiting events they are exposed to, they need it if the icc are going to succeed in their globalising cricket plan

    you cant class a tournament as a world cup if only eight teams are in it

    certainly bermuda and canada are poor sides in comparison with the giants of cricket, and the dutch played well below par against the two test nations (but still, they weren't entirely humiliated), but if they dont get oppertunities here they will come nowhere.

    the solution lies with the icc allowing more matches for associate countries. at the moment they 'encourage' test sides to play them. why not say to test sides okay guys, you have to play (for example) ireland, scotland, kenya, and the netherlands atleast once in a period of five years. they could even use matches like these to accustomise themselves to conditions in forreign continents (i.e like pakistan played scotland when they came to tour england)

    but the main problem is funding. zimbabwe get 20 times the amount of funding from the icc as the top associates. if associates can contract say 6 players, it would make them a hugely better side, and eventually work out in icc's favour because they'll get more money (not that they need it at the moment) from increase in matches played between these countries.

    so in the end, what (in my oppinion) is needed, is for the icc to shove their hands in their pockets, fork out a few pennies and allow the associates to have full time proffessionals. then the world cup will be a more closely fought contest anyway.

    p.s. i think its great that scotland are playing in the english county 2nd XI tournament now, it provides a great platform for the younger players. the icc need to step in and ensure that this sort of thing is happening on a wide scale

  • Rahul on April 29, 2007, 20:04 GMT

    The World Cup, by definition is the participation of countries of the would in a given event. The World Cup is not a tournament consisting of 8 countries that have been grandfathered in as the elite 8. The World Cup is about the globaliztion of cricket; look at the enthusiasm generated by the football World Cup consisting of 32 teams. Thats right, 32 teams from all corners of the world! Frankly, it is depressing and sad to see former and current players, coaches and TV personalities who are also considered the ambassadors for the game bash teams/countries that are championing cricket in their respective countires. First off, these countries are referred to as minnows; I (India, Pakistan and South Africa can atest through experience) prefer to see them as piranha's. In this edition of the World Cup, we shaw world class performances by the Irish and Bangladeshi teams; the last cup produced a tenucious Kenyan team that reached the SEMI-FINALS. I say that the top associates should be included in ODI tournaments and allowed and pushed to tour the elite 8 to groom their talents and gain exposure. It is obvious that people like Holding (West Indies is a compilation of minnow-esque countries), Atherton (England, How many World Cups have you won?) and Sangakkara (Sri Lanka just had their bottoms handed to them) need to look at the bigger picture and broaden their horizons.

  • Peter Musasia on April 29, 2007, 20:09 GMT

    After following the just concluded yet uneventful world cup, several issues seem to stand out. First is to blame the "minnows" for the most boring world cup ever. Second, is to blame Bangladesh and Ireland for sending Pakistan and India Parking hence spoiling the well planned and anticipated party of world cup without the minnows. And Thirdly to blame the location of the world cup being in the carribean where it is to far for the diehard supporters to reach. It is evident that the top nations need to be left alone. Its time the so called associate or minnows so to speak organize and run there own cricket. Its time to stop the blame game and let us come up with a different body that is all encampassing and wish to spread this game for the love of the game and leave the "top" nations to enjoy playing each other.

  • mayank kohli on April 29, 2007, 20:38 GMT

    I am from USA and I especially do not like how the ICC is ignoring us. Canada has hosted a number of ODI matches yet USA has zero. We have NO facilities and NO grounds. One more thing, sure we also have ex-players on our team as well but without them we would have nothing. Nobody wants to spread the game here. I have also seen in Wikipedia that USA has only played 4 first class matches and 21 one day domestic matches and 2 ODI matches. WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO EXPOSURE HERE. In the club team I play for, my whole team is either Indians or Pakistanis with the exeption of our British wicket keeper. This is absolutely ridiculous. How are we to do good in cricket when no American knows one thing about it?

  • Nafi Karim on April 29, 2007, 22:56 GMT

    To reply to Peter Musasia, 1st this wasn't the most boring world cup because of "minnows" because there were one-side games in most of the games including the top 8 games and the most interesting part of the world cup was Ireland, a so called "minnow" defeating Pakistan. 2nd, Bangladesh and Ireland didn't spoil it, India and Pakistan spoiled it by not qualifying. What is this? Had none of the associates qualified, then you people would be saying what's the point of the group stage; they have qualified and proved that they belong there you bash them by saying they spoiled the fun? No, India and Pakistan did for the respective fans. 3rd, there are die hard fans in the Caribbean too not just India and Pakistan. No it's not evident that the top teams be left alone because cricket will never survive being played in 8 countries. The "minnows" do have their own tournament, it's called the World Cricket League. And so do the top 8 teams, it's called the Champions trophy. But this is the world cup not the elite cup.

    To reply to mayank kohli, the ICC suspended USA because we had a dysfunctional cricket board. The ICC put a lot of money to improve cricket here through the USA project but our board just broke down and it was waste of money. So it is smart for the ICC to stop the funding until we have a real board that's good for the game and will be committed to spreading the game here.

  • Rich B on April 29, 2007, 23:52 GMT

    The ICC pushed the boat out a bit this time with 16 teams, but were rewarded with some improved performances from 2003. This is vindication for the increased money being spent on the top Associates.

    I think the Associates will continue to improve and there will be 16 competitive teams in 2011.

    Actually 18 teams would be ideal looking further into the future - 3 groups of 6 feeding super sixes means eveyone gets a chance but only the very best get to the second round.