World Cup 2015 April 6, 2011

'Main reason is to protect Bangladesh and Zimbabwe'

ESPNcricinfo staff

Scotland, Canada and Bermuda have joined the condemnation of the ICC's decision to exclude Associates from the 2015 World Cup.

Scotland, who were part of the tournament in 1999 and 2007 and will approach the ICC to reconsider the move. "This has some legs to run yet," Cricket Scotland chief Roddy Smith told BBC Radio Scotland.

"I'm sure the 95 countries ranked below the top 10 will be getting together to talk about what can be done. Can we influence the 10 Full Members to reconsider? It's a long shot but we have to try."

The absence of a qualifying event for 2015 was what upset Scotland the most. "We're not arguing that it shouldn't be a 10-team World Cup," Smith said. "Our biggest concern is that there has to be some sort of qualification event."

Though the Associates have been left out of the 2015 edition, they will participate in the ICC World Twenty20 - where the ICC has made room for 16 teams - and stand a fair chance of playing the 2019 World Cup that, despite being a ten-team tournament, will have a qualifying round.

The most important reason for the ICC's decision, Smith said, was to protect a couple of Full Members who, he felt, weren't too far better than the Associates. "Behind the scenes there are reasons to do with the commercial value and TV rights of the competition. But the main reason is to protect Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, who aren't too much better than the likes of Ireland, Scotland, Afghanistan or Kenya etc.

"No one would argue that the top countries like Australia and India are far better than the Associate nations. But the bottom Full Members, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and even West Indies are not a million miles ahead of the leading second tier countries."

The expansion of the World Twenty20 to 16 teams was no consolation, Smith added. "That's great but it's only one of the three formats of the game and for most Associate nations it's not the main one. We want to be tested at 50-over cricket."

In the immediate aftermath of its decision, the ICC was slammed by Cricket Ireland and its players on various forums. Ireland had been the stand-out Associate team in the 2011 World Cup and its achievements included a stunning win over England, thanks to a 50-ball century from Kevin O'Brien.

Canada joined the chorus of criticism, with their board saying it was "very disappointed to learn that there would be no qualification process for the 2015". Canada were highlighted by the ICC for being a poor-performing Associate country in the recent World Cup where they lost four of their five games.

Despite disappointing results overall there were flashes of success, such as Hiral Patel's stunning half-century against Australia. Patel, 19, will be denied the opportunity to build on the experience he gained at the next event. "[He] will be closer to the end of his career by the time he gets a chance to compete in the game's marquee event again," Cricket Canada said in statement.

"We have had significant interest and profile generated in Canadian cricket as a result of our participation in the world cup, and this increase in our sport would surely wane if we are not allowed to participate in the world cup for at eight years or more."

Criticism was as strong in Bermuda, another Associate nation that played in the 2007 World Cup. "How can they call this a World Cup when it is only being played between 10 teams, what world are they living in?," Clay Smith, a former batsman, was quoted as saying in the Royal Gazette. "I think this decision is a joke and very contradictory to what they the ICC has been trying to do in the past.

"The ICC has invested so much money into the Associate members to try to improve their standards, but it seems like some of the big boys of cricket fear being embarrassed by the minnows."

The early exits of India and Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup, after they were beaten by Bangladesh and Ireland respectively, prompted the ICC to devise formats to protect the bigger teams, Clay Smith said. "What they should do is have a mini World Cup with the Associate teams and at least have the two finalists be given a path to the World Cup."

Comments