ICC news September 15, 2010

No plan to exclude Associates from World Cup - ICC

The ICC's proposal to limit to 10 the number of teams in the World Cup is exactly that - a proposal - and does not exclude Associate nations, a senior official has said. Speaking a day after the decisions were made public and sparked criticism by Associate members, Dave Richardson, the ICC's general manager on cricket, told ESPNcricinfo it had not yet been worked out exactly which teams would qualify for the tournament.

"How the ten members are to be determined has still to be decided," Richardson said. "It could be the full members only but it could be not."

The recommendation to reduce the number of teams from 2015 - 14 will play at the 2011 World Cup - was made at the ICC's chief executives' committee [CEC] meeting in Cape Town earlier this week and will now be discussed by the board. Richardson stressed that nowhere in the proposal was it stated that Associates could not participate in the World Cup. "They haven't said they would exclude Associates; nowhere has anyone said, at this stage, the decision is to allow only full members to participate in the World Cup," he said.

The CEC includes representatives from three Associate and Affiliate members - Ireland (Warren Deutrom), Hong Kong (John Cribbin) and Namibia (Francois Erasmus) - who would have had a say before the recommendations were finalised.

The proposal's genesis lies in the ICC's move to revamp the World Cup, which was entrusted to a working group comprising senior officials of four national boards - James Sutherland, N Srinivasan, David Collier and Nishantha Ranatunga - and Richardson. The decision was taken after submissions from various quarters and interactions with the broadcasters. "There was a general view that the World Cup in its current form was too many teams, too many one-sided matches. So the idea was to have the ten best teams in the world," Richardson said.

Explaining the rationale behind the CEC view, Richardson said the primary motive was to look at the whole basket of ICC events as one product and enhance the brand value. Hence it was deemed necessary to improve the quality of the product. "The main reason was, it's easier for teams to be competitive in the 20-over version rather than in the 50-over version," Richardson said. And why is that? "There is nothing worse than a one-sided 50-over game. So one of the major reasons was to increase the quality of the matches (in ODI World Cup)." This, he said, could be done by reducing the number of teams in the 50-over World Cup.

Richardson pointed out that the issue of qualification would now be determined by the governance review committee, which will submit its findings to the executive board. There is no definitive time-frame for that. "We have still got five years before the next world Cup so we have got plenty of time to determine how teams are going to qualify," Richardson remarked.

The issue that remains unresolved concerns the parameters to determine the 10 best countries. There doesn't seem to be any ready solution, especially given the bottleneck over the disparity in the distribution of monies from the World Cup which the ICC gives to the full members and Associates. The full member gets 75 percent while the remaining 25 percent is distributed among the Associates. So any decision to include one Associate member in the World Cup at the expense of a full member could see objections from the latter unless the income was protected.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo