Cost, structure behind Twenty20 culling - ICC
The decision to cut four Associate-Affiliate teams from the next two World Twenty20 events was taken because of the structural issues, including costing, with regard to a "package" of three ICC events, ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat has said. The three events are the World Test Championship, the 50-over World Cup, and the World Twenty20; by adding four teams to the 2015 50-over World Cup, the ICC had no choice but cut the number from the Twenty20 events.
"If you change one, you have to change the other," he told ESPNcricinfo.
When asked if it cost was a factor Lorgat replied, "It is true to say that there are always financial implications... part of the restructure brought in a Test championship. That's a new model, a new event so obviously you've got to fund it. We wanted to have a 10-team World Cup in a 50-over format, which is sustainable provided you have context and you have a proper contest. In the World Twenty20, we were prepared to go up to 16 teams competing in that event. In order to balance all of that, it was very much a package decision we had made where funding would have balanced out, the model would have balanced out, the competition would have worked in my view... Once you change one, you have to see what the implications are on the other. And it was 14 teams in the World Cup and back to 12 in the Twenty20."
Lorgat did not reveal the increase in cost that would have been incurred from hosting another 16-nation Twenty20 event next year but Associate-Affiliate representatives understood the cost of four more teams from the non-Test playing nations would be an additional $3 million per event. When asked whether the package plan had been explained to the smaller nations in April, Lorgat said, "I didn't meet with them personally, but they have delegates with them who are engaged in these debates." In the Executive Board, the 40 smaller nations are represented by the heads of Bermuda, Scotland and Singapore.
Later, speaking at a press conference, Lorgat said the decision would not be changed, "It was important for us to have made that decision [about the size of the World Twenty20 field] in this conference because the planning for that event is well under way... we will be releasing match schedules, venues and so on and that decision is pretty much cast in stone."
The ICC ended its annual conference with a full council meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, housed in Hong Kong's tallest building, the International Commerce Centre. Representatives from Malaysia, Botswana and Papua New Guinea spoke for their comrades, expressing their displeasure and what the subsequent ICC statement called "disappointment" at the package agreement.
As the conference broke up after a final group photograph and one last lunch, feelings were mixed. Twenty20 has always been sold as the easiest format with which to globalise the sport and to have numbers slashed after offering six non-Test nations a spot in next year's event has disappointed many. Several Associates have worked at getting their teams into the World T20 qualifying competition in the UAE next year, only to be told that the numbers had been cut from six to two. Lorgat conceded the point: "I support the view that the best way to globalise the game would be through the Twenty20 format and that is held every alternate year. So in my view 16 teams participating in the Twenty20 every two years is the way to globalise the game. But as I said, this was part of a comprehensive restructure, if you change the one you have to change the other."
Some younger Associate representatives said it was the first time they had got a chance to be heard. One of the older members, attending his 20th and last ICC annual meeting, said he believed the Associates and Affiliates had found their voice and he found them more confident than ever before. But he said that in the past, the Full Members had mingled more freely with the Associates and Affiliates whereas in Hong Kong there had been clear social divisions between the two. In this conference, the first time in five days that the two worlds collided was on the last night of the event on Wednesday at the gala dinner. The ICC's growing globalised world is far from flat.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo