Associates' World Cup plans scuppered
Cricinfo has learned that attempts to broker a compromise over plans to reduce the number of Associate countries at the 2011 World Cup by introducing an eight-team pre-qualifier were scuppered by the host countries, led by India.
India were the driving force behind the initial proposal to cut the number of Associates at the tournament from six to four and a restructuring of the competition format, a move ostensibly to counter criticism that the 2007 event was too bloated. But this was strongly opposed by leading Associates who argued that it was against the ICC policy of spreading the game globally.
At the ICC executives meeting in Kuala Lumpar last month, some Full Member countries singled out the performance of Bermuda at the 2007 World Cup as an example of how there was not, in their opinion, the strength in depth to support the inclusion of six Associates. One senior administrator countered by pointing out that there were also many poor performances by senior countries such as England and West Indies leading to many equally one-sided and meaningless matches.
Seven alternative proposals were put forward and this was narrowed down to two – the publicised 14-team format and an alternative tabled by the Associates which was a 16-team format. The latter would have meant that the six leading associates plus Bangladesh and Zimbabwe would have played in a first-round qualifier before the tournament proper, with the top four progressing into a 12-team event. That would, so they argued, have led to a more meaningful cricket for the Associates as well as a shorter and more competitive World Cup.
The plan was well received by a few Full Members, but when it came to a vote the proposal was rejected. It is believed that the Indian representatives lobbied hard to have anything other than the 14-team plan put forward by the BCCI turned down.
It is now expected that the 14-team format will be rubber stamped when the ICC board meets in Dubai next weekend.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa