Associates news June 24, 2011

Associates hope for World Cup lifeline


Associate nations will discover whether they will be given a chance to appear at the 2015 World Cup when the structure of tournament is debated once again at the ICC's annual conference, which begins on June 26 in Hong Kong. Some countries believe they have put together an irresistible argument to be reinstated, but a lingering fear remains that they will be frozen out.

"It would take a brave group to completely ignore the views of their most important stakeholders - the players, the fans, their own committees and members," Warren Deutrom, the Cricket Ireland chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo. "All the anecdotal evidence points towards a degree of hope, but then again nothing has really changed since the original decision."

Yet worries remain that the Full Members, who are often seen as looking after their own welfare first, won't have changed their minds, especially as the 2015 event in Australia and New Zealand has been set at 10 teams. "It's a major concern that it's the same people making the decision," Tom Sears, the Cricket Kenya chief executive, said. "But the ICC president has made it very clear that if they go against the recommendation of the cricket committee then what's the point in having it? With the weight of opinion against them I think it would be a ridiculous decision not to change."

The initial decision to restrict the next World Cup to the ten Full Members created a fierce backlash and threats of legal action against the governing body. The ICC was accused of operating a closed shop and phrases such as "a black day for the sport" were heard. After two weeks of silence Sharad Pawar, the ICC president, asked that the issue be examined again and the ICC's own cricket committee recommended there should be a qualifying tournament when they met at Lord's last month.

Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said his preference was for the tournament to remain 10 teams but with an element of qualification. The final decision, however, rests with the same group of people that voted the first time, so there is no guarantee the Associates will be included.

Deutrom, though, believes the support behind the Associates' stand is making those administering the game reconsider. "I think for the very first time the directors - the ten Full members - have seen it is a sport that has 105 countries," he said. "They understand their duty is as custodians of a truly international sport. The ground swell of opinion has reflected that cricket is truly global and therefore the voices of the 95 other countries must now be heard and decisions should not wholly be based on the interests of 10 countries."

Ireland, largely because of their standing as the leading Associate nation, are one of the loudest voices demanding a change from ICC. They famously beat England in Bangalore during the 2011 World Cup, but Deutrom doesn't want any decision to be weighted heavily in their favour at the expense of the wider Associate and Affiliate structure. Instead, he wants Ireland to be used as an example of what smaller cricket nations can achieve when given the backing needed to progress.

"I think why Ireland have been at the forefront of this is because it's the Irish performances that have provoked the debate," Deutrom said. "I've been at pains to stress this is about 95 countries even if Ireland helped improve the argument. Look at Afghanistan, for example, who climbed the World Cricket League structure. It's not just an Associate argument.

"Afghanistan's performances have given a hallmark of what every country can aspire to, that's the beauty of World Cup qualification. We've always talked about the pathway, that's the most sacrosanct thing."

A positive sign has been the creation of an ODI league, which will run parallel to the four-day Intercontinental Cup, and could provide a qualifying path to the World Cup, although it remains to be seen how extra sides would be accommodated in 2015. And that means consideration has to be given to the decision not being overturned.

A qualification process has been promised for the 2019 World Cup in England, but there's no sign of Associates backing down and waiting another four years. "We hope the result goes well but we've also examined the legal position," Sears admitted. "It would be a last resort but at this stage I wouldn't rule anything out."

A leading sports lawyer told ESPNcricinfo that countries like Ireland could have a strong case to go to court. "The biggest issue concerns the way it's been done," he said. "There are commercial justifications in moving to ten teams, and those in themselves would make it legal. However, the complete exclusion of the Associate members could only be done in a way where there were justifications, and the changes were brought about in a proportionate manner.

"Unless the ICC can show some strong objective evidence as to why a qualification tournament would be practically impossible because of fixture overload or FTP commitments, they wouldn't have a strong leg to stand on."

Deutrom, meanwhile, hopes the sport isn't put in such a position. "I think it would be wholly irresponsible of the board to go down that route. I sincerely hope they don't place the sport in a position where we have to test the governing body's decision. I hope, and I trust, that the right decision will be made."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 27, 2011, 9:59 GMT

    Ireland has proven themselves worthy of playing more cricket, Afgansitan and teams like Scotland with real 'home grown' talent need to at least be given the chance of playing international cricket with the big teams and play in the ODI world cups. Ireland also need test statuship!!!

  • RAGHURAM on June 27, 2011, 6:57 GMT

    10 Team WC is perfect. Only objection is the automatic qualifiction for the Full members irrespective of their cricketing abilities. My opinion is that the bottom two ranked teams from the Full members should be relegated and top two teams from the qualifiers should play the WC as the 9th & 10th team. If it can be bottom 4, even more better. But for that the Full members should shed their ego and try to improve their cricketing ability. Teams like West Indies are constantly going down and still want to play WC... This is utter Nonsense....

  • Sarathi on June 26, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    this is the result summary in England by all countries/tests

    Team Span Mat Won Lost Tied Draw Australia 1880-2010 161 50 46 0 65 Bangladesh 2005-2010 4 0 4 0 0 England 1880-2011 463 185 107 0 171 India 1932-2007 48 5 23 0 20 New Zealand 1931-2008 50 4 27 0 19 Pakistan 1954-2010 49 10 21 0 18 South Africa 1907-2008 64 11 29 0 24 Sri Lanka 1984-2011 13 2 6 0 5 West Indies 1928-2009 80 29 30 0 21 Zimbabwe 2000-2003 4 0 3 0 1

    here INDIA has the 3RD WORST records in English conditions even though they are there since 1932..really really shame.Is this the basement of giving them % match series against Eng????

  • Dummy4 on June 26, 2011, 14:07 GMT

    I have always felt cricket world cup qualification process should have been like the football world cup qualification process...2 matches against each team in their group 1 away leg and 1 home leg....that way makes it more global and also the Associate and Affiliates will get more exposure if they play in different conditions against these big teams......but for 2015 WC i think now it should consider a Qualification tournament just ahead of WC with 4 associate teams and bottom 4 so called 'elite' teams. The top 4 teams from that qualification process gets to play WC....I am sure that will give these Associates and Affiliates a fair chance to play in the WC

  • Dummy4 on June 26, 2011, 10:34 GMT

    AFGHANISTAN leads the associates team . ICC has to give chance to AFGHANISTAN and IRELAND. we hope to hear good news from ICC about the future of associates teams

  • Dummy4 on June 26, 2011, 8:50 GMT

    My suggestion is having 14 teams playing, with two main groups A and B, and two auxiliary groups X and Y, which contains the 9th placed team, 10th placed team, and four associate members divided in three teams each. The winner of Group X will join Group A and winner of Group Y will join Group B. Thus, we actually have 10 teams divided into 5 each in each group in round-robin format. Then, the top three from each group qualify into the super six, then the semi finals and the final. The whole tournament, in this format, can be completed in slightly over 1 month, and the top team will be exempted from playing the associate members, unless of course, the associate members qualify from Group X and Y respectively.

  • Dummy4 on June 26, 2011, 8:24 GMT

    If ICC really wants to make cricket as a global sport then they should have to allow Associate Nations such as Ireland, Netherland and Afgan to participate in major events like World Cup. This will make them much more comfort to compete against the top most teams in cricketing world and thus it make the other teams to improve their game and it gives hope to all other Associates and Affiliiates. If ICC doesn't allow them to participate it's just like killing the game and will result in negative causes in assocites and affiliates.

  • S.rao on June 26, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    If I can recall correctly it was Ricky Ponting who led the call for the ouster of associate nations.Its time such regressive players are shown the door and the game is allowed to develop.Here is hoping that some nations are allowed to particpate.Involving new teams should be done in a phased manner to spread the game and at the same time avoid too many one sided matches which sucks the life out of a tournament.

  • Pramesh on June 26, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    It's ridiculous decision taken by ICC & why they don't want to reconsider their decision? 2011 Format is ridiculous as well. Why they make sure the top 8 teams will go in QF, instead of that they should make that top 2 teams from each groups will qualify for Semi Final. That will make the game interesting. I will love to see 16 Teams in World Cup 2015, so that one of them can be Nepal as well. Still they should allow at least 12 Teams for 2015 WC. make 2 groups. Play twice against each country of same groups. then top two from each groups qualify for Semi Final. That will make game interesting and fantastic as well. I would love if I get chance to make these wonderful decision, though I am not from cricketing background.

  • karthikeyan on June 26, 2011, 5:00 GMT

    If ICC really wants to make cricket as a global sport then they should have to allow Associate Nations such as Ireland, Netherland and Afgan to participate in major events like World Cup. This will make them much more comfort to compete against the top most teams in cricketing world and thus it make the other teams to improve their game and it gives hope to all other Associates and Affiliiates. If ICC doesn't allow them to participate it's just like killing the game and will result in negative causes in assocites and affiliates.

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