ESPNcricinfo's Lunch with Legends March 31, 2015

Associates vital to make the World Cup a 'celebration'

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Dravid: You kill the game if you take world events away from Associates

Rahul Dravid and Martin Crowe reiterated their opposition to the planned trimming of the World Cup to ten teams in 2019, as both advocated for the participation of Associates, so as to make the tournament a "celebration" of cricket. Dravid and Crowe were part of a discussion on World Cup and ODI cricket at ESPNcricinfo's Lunch with Legends function in Sydney.

Though Ian Chappell and Michael Holding agreed that Associates deserve a pathway to participation in the World Cup, they supported the proposed contraction to ten teams, arguing that a tournament played between fewer teams would produce a greater frequency of high-quality encounters.

Dravid, who played for Scotland in 2003, said precluding Associates from the World Cup could "kill the game" in those countries.

"In my three or four months in Scotland, one thing you realise is the passion for the game that so many of those players have, and the amount of sacrifices they make to play the game," Dravid said. "Most of them are amateur cricketers who only play during the weekend - they have to work right through the week.

"I think the sacrifices they make are done with the opportunity to play for Scotland in the World Cup in mind. It boils down to that big event. A lot of the funding that comes from cricket Scotland for a lot of these Associate nations depends on their participation for a lot of these events. If you take away these world events from a lot of these nations, I'm afraid you actually kill the game.

"They're not going to get the participation, they're not going to get the funding and they're not going to be able to encourage the young kids to play the game. Does cricket want to say that the Associates don't matter and all we want to do is play with the eight or ten best teams? I personally don't think that's what cricket should be."

Rahul Dravid and Martin Crowe opposed the shrinking of the World Cup to ten teams in 2019 © AFP

Holding agreed with the sentiment that Associates should be given the chance to play in the World Cup and to develop their cricket, citing the example of Ireland, who do not have the resources to prevent their top players from pursuing more lucrative careers playing for England. However, he suggested a model where Associates could qualify for the World Cup within the ten-team structure.

"If you're going to have a ten-team tournament, perhaps you could have five or six teams that qualify automatically via the ICC rankings or international 50-over cricket. Whoever makes up the rest have to compete for those last four positions. Whether you are a Test nation or not, if you cannot compete against the Associates and beat them to make that four, tough luck. I don't think that you should qualify automatically if you're a Test playing nation. We have seen what the Associate teams have done in this World Cup. You have to encourage them to get to the big stage."

Chappell supported a World Cup between the "ten best teams", largely because he felt the current length of the tournament was "ridiculous", and needed curtailing. He said Twenty20, not ODIs, should be the format that expands the sport.

"It might suit television and it might be financially worthwhile, but I just think the World Cup goes way too long," Chappell said. "I think the game's got to globalise in T20 - a format that's likely to improve the game in areas like North America, Japan, Malaysia, where I think it could be accepted.

"What I would like, as an encouragement for those Associate nations, is that you have a second tier that's giving the administrators a clue as to which teams are on the improve, and which teams are getting ready to play the bigger nations on a regular basis. I would include in their programmes every four years, visits from the stronger A sides, so that the global administrators and the local administrators get an idea of the type of players you need to succeed at that level."

Crowe, who has already laid out his support for an 18-team event in his column, said that tweaks to the current playing conditions would increase the number of competitive matches, and hence allow for viewer interest to be sustained over a much longer tournament that would feature more teams.

"When you have something every four years, surely you have to celebrate it in the best possible way," Crowe said. "I'd like to see at least 16, possibly 18 teams at the World Cup, depending on if the 17th and 18th teams are up for it.

"I'd like to build on the 14 we have now and see at least 16 teams split into two conferences, so all teams are getting seven games each. Then the top four teams from each conference take their points, and you start to have a proper world series of the best of the best. The smaller nations will be blistered out of the park with the rules that are in place at the moment, but they'll have a chance if the rules allow for a balance between bat and ball, and they have a chance to compete as a team.

"That's what I feel has been lacking in this particular tournament. What we're seeing is six weeks of a one-sided contest where bat dominates ball. That to me is missing the point of cricket. Cricket needs to always look for that balance. We've probably seen only three out of 48 games that have been really intense and have taken you on a journey. If we can sort that out, then I think we can play for ten weeks, 12 weeks, so we can really celebrate the game."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Altaf on April 2, 2015, 6:59 GMT

    70% games of the world cup were involving associates, almost all of them were one-sided.

  • Rakesh on April 1, 2015, 14:18 GMT

    Associates must be included in actual World cup. You cannot have gimmick of showing that they did not qualify for it. How can you have a qualifying matches for two spots when two test nations plays against associates? These Test nations plays Tests, ODI and T20 against top teams all the while getting international exposure. The test nations will just use this experience to win against associates. Also give Test status to Ireland also. Qualifying teams will be always predictable as only Test teams will qualify. It will be fooling Associates. How can associates also even accept this? The actual teams at present must be 12.Test nations will have players with more than 100 international matches against Test nations as experience always .

  • Dummy4 on April 1, 2015, 12:16 GMT

    encourage school cricket in the form of U-11, U-14, U-19 tournaments to build the game from the grass root level.Conduct private league matches encouraging youths of the country. For this, they have to appoint some of the popular players like Brian Lara, Muralitharan, Warne, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar etc. and help in the growth of popularity of the sport.Have some invitational tournaments involving a few associate nations and include handful of some country teams to be a part of the same.make them travel do different parts of the world and play a series with 'A' teams and occasionally with the main teams.Encourage the players to play at English county and improve their individual cricketing skills. * Allow the bigger teams to have a few tours to these countries. * Make these teams to play at least 45-50 matches per year, except the World Cup games, where 60% of them must be against the better test playing teams.

  • Devang on April 1, 2015, 10:24 GMT

    Another suggestion I have to encourage cricket among the Associates is that during tours, visiting countries should play their warm up games against the Associate nations instead of playing a second string club side. This will provide further exposure to Associates against the top teams in varying conditions and may help them develop their first class game as well. There needs to be a strict regulation against poaching players as well. Ireland could turn into a force to reckon with if they don't lose players to England.

  • Peter on April 1, 2015, 8:21 GMT

    I almost agree with Holding. but I would say that only the four best (in rankings) in ODIs should get automatic entry. The remaining six should earn their place. This would encourage both the growth of cricket , and the competititvenes of the Test nations. If the Test nations are good enough they will earn their places. Further, with six places available, the chances of a non-Test nation qualifying increases - to the game's benefit. I have a dream..... a World Cup Semi between China and Ireland - and I'm Australian.

  • Conor on April 1, 2015, 7:38 GMT

    There also seems to be this misplaced nostalgia about the 1992 WC. I was quite young back then but I think that ppl remember it as better than it actually was because; 1) Pakistan won it as underdogs - this was not due to the format however 2) First time in coloured clothing 3) First time in Oz/Nz 4) World Series rules for the first time. We need to recognise that cricket and world sport has moved on. The 1992 WC held today would have been a spectacular failure. We now have a 32 team football and a 20 team rugby WC to compare with. A 6 week ten team jaunt for the established teams with 9 games each seems pathetic in comparison

  • Cric on April 1, 2015, 7:36 GMT

    @ICC, 10 years from now, can you develop 5 new top level test nations? If no, then you are doing nothing to the game of cricket.

  • Dummy on April 1, 2015, 6:45 GMT

    Simple formula:- if you want all associates or even countries such as Brazil, Germany, Japan, France etc to have a go at cricket, the icc should raise the prize money overtaking all other global sports thus it will attract huge response.

  • Mihir on April 1, 2015, 6:18 GMT

    ICC go for 10 Team World Cup but Please have a League system in place to select Best 8 for qualification for world cup . All 16 Odi Teams including 10 Full Members and Ireland,Afghanistan,PNG,UAE,Scotland,Hong Kong. should play 3 ODi's against Each other Home or Away , But play 3 Odi's. Fm's can play more than 3 Odi among themselves but should count first 3 Odi's as qualification Odi's . With associates then should play 3 Odi's . Wednesday Friday Sunday 3 Games and Over infact top 6 teams can test their bench strength against Associates , So once the league is over then ICC can select top 8 in Rankings and send bottom 8 teams to play along with DIV 2 winner and runner up for Qualification of World Cup .

  • j on April 1, 2015, 5:18 GMT

    In this world cup there was a very clear top 4, a clear 5/6 (SL/Pakistan), next Eng/WI/Ireland/Bang/Zimbabwe all similar with Afghan, Scotland and UAE slightly behind. I would say the gap between Nz/Aus and England/WI is much bigger in ODI format than the gap between England and Ireland. Based on this tournament, the top 4 had strong bowling, batting and fielding. 5/6 were very good in 1 format (ie Pakistan's bowlers with SL's batsmen would make a top tier team). the solution is so obvious. 16 teams, 4 groups of 4 - qualifying tournament to define seedings - rush through the group games. get quickly to the business end, QF, SF, F to follow. you could even throw in a 3rd/4th play off if you like. The other issue is that teams such as Ireland and others will keep losing their better players if they do not see a future. Ireland plus Morgan plus Rankin might have really challenged

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