Deutrom fearful for 50-over future
There is a danger of Associate nations losing interest in 50-over cricket with the reduction of the 2019 World Cup to 10 teams according to Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland.
The Associate and Affiliate nations have been battling for whatever morsels come their way under the restructuring of the ICC. While there is the promise of a performance-based pathway to Test cricket through the Intercontinental Cup and a play-off series with the lowest ranked Test nation - the ECB has put a Test against a potential qualifier into the new draft of the FTP - and a 16-team World T20 there is a fear that the middle format is being forgotten.
The next World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will include 14 teams, but the tournament in England four years after that will be cut to ten countries in an everyone-plays-everyone format replicating the 1992 event, which is considered to be the ideal formula.
The exact details of qualification for the 2019 tournament have yet to be confirmed, but the likely option is that the top eight teams in the ICC ODI rankings will qualify automatically with the bottom two entering a tournament with the leading Associate and Affiliate nations for the final two spots.
However, Deutrom is concerned that the reduction in places for lower-ranked teams to qualify could see the format wither.
"We, as Associates, have begun to circulate our concerns more strongly in recent months. The pathway to Test cricket has been put in place, the World T20 is now a 16-team event but we strongly feel the 50-over game has been somewhat overlooked," he told the Irish Slog Sweep radio show.
"I think the Test countries think, 'Great you now have a pathway to be in the 50-over World Cup', but actually if it's only 10 teams [in the World Cup] there's a real risk of Associate countries not being part of that.
"There's a risk that some lower-ranked Associates may wonder about playing 50-over with the only real pathway being into 20-over cricket. If all these countries start turning away from 50-over cricket you have to ask yourself that if there are fewer teams playing 50-over cricket what's the point in having a pathway because it will only be open to a small number of countries. If the 50-over structure is not assessed there's a real risk of it losing context."
Deutrom believes Ireland can rightly consider themselves the leading Associate nation but also said that his comments were speaking for the non-Full Member nations as a whole and warned that Ireland's experience at the World T20 - when they were knocked out in stunning fashion by Netherlands - had reinforced that they can "take nothing for granted".
He was talking shortly after arriving back in Ireland from the ICC's annual conference in Melbourne where the new structures and powerbases were rubber-stamped, but his pragmatic view of the Big Three is that it was the best way forward.
"There's this sense that from a pure best practice, governance perspective, does it look great? Probably not," he said. "But in terms of what governance is meant to be, it's probably meant to be a means to an end where a sport will be meritocratic, which from our point of view it is now becoming and there are better means for us to realise our objectives."
That key objective for Ireland remains Test cricket and Deutrom remained steadfast in his belief that Ireland will achieve their goal with the prize of that match against England.
"Is it still important? Hell, yes. Why? Because it's the best. If we are the No. 1 Associate what do we do next? When we launched that strategy it probably came out of nowhere. The ICC had not really considered expanding the number of Test nations. I hope it does not come across as arrogant, but I'm of no doubt that ICC would not have put that pathway in place had Ireland not stated its aim. We wanted to look at a proper vision."