Porterfield attacks ICC mentality
Ireland's captain William Porterfield has not yet signed the petition for the retention of a 14-team World Cup, but based on his rhetoric at the Gabba on Tuesday, that can only be a matter of time.
In a stinging assessment of prevailing attitudes at the ICC's executive board table, Porterfield argued passionately against plans to shrink the tournament to 10 teams in 2019, calling out the game's bigger nations in an apparent reduction of opportunities for Associate nations to grow and improve on the global stage.
Porterfield went as far as to say the 10-team model would merely be a rehash of the Champions Trophy already played among the top eight teams in the ICC's rankings. He wondered at the logic of reducing chances for Associate nations who struggle as it is to get games against Full Member nations - Ireland have only played nine such matches since the 2011 tournament despite their obvious development.
"It wouldn't be a World Cup if you just keep reducing teams down to the top few teams that are ranked," Porterfield said in Brisbane ahead of Wednesday's match against the UAE. "It's frustrating whenever you come to tournaments and the governing body wants to keep cutting teams. Cricket is the only sport in the world that does that when it comes to world events. It's very disappointing and frustrating from our point of view that that's the way the ICC are viewing things.
"We have played nine ODIs against top-eight teams in the last four years. That is not a lot of cricket - about two games a year against top nations. That is not acceptable. It is not what developing the game is about. Hopefully if people get behind that then things can change and it's not just a case of narrowing down the teams, it's a case of expanding the game."
Porterfield gave scant regard to the question of whether the World Cup needed to be a shorter tournament to better meet the needs of sponsors, fans and broadcasters. "You've got 52 weeks a year, four years in between, that's a lot of weeks," he said. "You've got over 200 weeks, six or seven weeks is a pretty short tournament. Everyone's got their own opinion on that, it's a world event that happens once every four years.
"You've already got a Champions Trophy every couple of years, I don't think it's right if you're looking to expand the game. Look at what happened with Sri Lanka, look where they are now. They won the competition less than 20 years after becoming Full Members.
"Hopefully we can keep putting in performances. Afghanistan probably could have come out on top against Sri Lanka and Scotland have done reasonably well, and the way the UAE played against Zimbabwe posting 285 things could have gone quite differently if it wasn't for [Sean] Williams at the end."
"The way the four qualifying teams have performed has been great and we've got to keep that going, not only ourselves but everyone else. It's great to see people have got behind that, it is a global event and a sport we want to grow. This is a sport we want to grow and if it's going to grow you need to have more teams participating around the world."
UAE batsman Khurram Khan made his own firm statement about the opportunities afforded to cricket's next tier by observing that despite his region's status as a frequent venue for matches in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, few, if any, Full Member nations bother to schedule matches against the host country while there.
"Definitely I'd like to see us play many more matches against Test playing nations," Khurram said. "You cannot just expect us to come to a World Cup and do well without playing any other games against them before the World Cup. We have to have more opportunities playing against these teams.
"They are coming to our country to play cricket, we'd like to have some matches against them. Eighteen tours, Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, whoever is visiting there, definitely we have to have more games for associates. It's been a little harsh on Associates that you expect them to do well when suddenly after four years you give them six matches and you want them to beat everybody. It's not going to happen."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig