Gideon Haigh
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Cricket historian and writer in Melbourne

It's an Irish question and a global one

Ireland deserve to participate in the 2015 World Cup. That the ICC executive board wishes to freeze them out reflects a new phase in the game's global evolution

Gideon Haigh

April 29, 2011

Comments: 84 | Text size: A | A

An Irish fan waits for the team to arrive at the team hotel, England v Ireland, World Cup 2011, Bangalore, March 2, 2011
The World Cup needs the associates more than the ICC is willing to acknowledge © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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In their famous spoof version of British history, WC Sellar and RJ Yeatman describe Gladstone as having spent his twilight years trying to resolve "the Irish Question". Alas it is to no avail: "Unfortunately whenever he was getting warm, the Irish secretly changed the Question".


Something similar applies to cricket's Irish Question, which could be about any number of things. Is it about the size of the Cup? Is it about the length of the Cup? Is it about the venue of Cup? After all, India and Sri Lanka had no problem with a 14-team tournament. Why are Australia and New Zealand so ken to winnow the participants away to 10? Perhaps there's an argument for World Cups only being held on the subcontinent: it is, after all, where the crowds and the television audiences are.

Is it, on the other hand, about Zimbabwe, that ghost in flesh at the ICC executive board which somehow retains full voting rights and financial entitlements despite not playing Test cricket, and despite being considerably the inferior of Ireland at one-day cricket, and probably the Netherlands too. At the moment, the president of Zimbabwe Cricket cannot even visit Australia, such is his global reputation.

Or is it about Twenty20, given that the ICC is offering associate members participation in a bigger World Twenty20 as a sop for their exclusion from the World Cup? A positive of the dispute is that the associates have proven smarter than the full members gave them credit for: understanding that Twenty20 is most congenial to the mediocre, have refused to be infantilised. The irony is that part of Twenty20's appeal is its capacity for creating upsets, which might be felt to have offered associates a shorter cut to success. Kudos to the Irish and the Dutch for seeing past that, and insisting on the right to master a form of cricket that isn't just about keeping advertisements apart.

You might by now have worked out that my sympathies lie with the associates; actually, I find it difficult to believe that a cricket lover could feel any other way, given that it is other cricket lovers who sustain the game in its outstations, and that they deserve as much nurturing and encouragement as it is in the ICC's gift to give. All power to the popular outcry against Ireland's treatment. Credit even to ICC president Sharad Pawar for putting the matter back on the agenda - temporary credit anyway.

I fancy, too, that the World Cup needs associate members rather more than the ICC executive board has hitherto been prepared to acknowledge. Sri Lanka defeating India in 1979; Zimbabwe overcoming Australia in 1983, then England in 1992; Bangladesh routing Pakistan in 1999; Kenya rolling West Indies in 1996 and squeezing into the final four in 2003; Ireland stitching up Pakistan in 2007 and England in 2011: you will forget many World Cup deeds before you forget these. And as exciting as it is to see a six peal from the bat of Virender Sehwag, there is something even a little more thrilling about a similar blow from Hiral Patel.

To be fair, there is merit in the contention that a ten-team round-robin is the most efficient and fair preliminary stage for the World Cup. The management of the ICC originally brought forth a plan for 2015 under which the top eight countries would qualify automatically, and the next six (two full members and two associates) would play off for the last two places: it was the executive board, looking after its own, that insisted on automatic qualification of full members.

Four years out from the tournament, it does require some precognition to evaluate the future strength of the associate members: their talent pools are small, and susceptible to one-off setbacks and key retirements. Ireland and the Netherlands have handy teams now; by 2015 they might have gone the way of Kenya.

They are, however, surely likelier to develop more competitive national XIs if they have World Cup participation to aim for. And as an incentive for associate members of the ICC, whether in the matter of players, media or sponsors, nothing trumps a shot, however optimistic, at the international one-day crown. The Cup structure surely exists to serve cricket, rather than the other way round.

The playoff, too, might have less to recommend it than seems. Because the difference between entitlement and non-entitlement to a World Cup distribution amounts to tens of millions of dollars, participants in such a competition would be competing for the equivalent of Allen Stanford moolah, introducing budget uncertainty to already precarious finances. When all is said and done, the most equitable solution still appears a 12-team cup. Perhaps 14 competitors was too many; 10, however, feels like too few.

 
 
It remains true that while no former British colony has won soccer's World Cup, only former British colonies have won cricket's. Boards of control consented to development not because they saw it is a priority but because it seemed like A Good Idea, and perhaps also because they sounded so weighty when they said things like: "Of course, we're looking at China."
 

The Irish Question is an interesting one to have to consider at all, because it seems to imply a new stage in the diffusion of cricket round the world. Consider how cricket internationalised in the first, second and third places.

For almost the first half century after the commencement of the cricket rivalry between England and Australia, the only addition to full-scale competition was South Africa, and then on rather fluctuating terms: Australia toured there desultorily twice; teams sent from England were barely representative.

In May then September 1926, nonetheless, the Marylebone Cricket Club hosted Imperial Cricket Conferences at Lord's, at which not only Australia and South Africa were represented but India, New Zealand and West Indies, these last three all indicating a desire to bring teams to England.

New Zealand had had a board of control for about three decades, but the West Indies' board had barely formed, and India's would not be established until the end of 1928. Despite this, agreements were reached for the interchange of visits and, at the second meeting, a definition of Test matches arrived at: "Matches played between sides selected by recognised governing bodies of cricket representing countries within the Empire". England duly played their first Tests against West Indies (1928), New Zealand (1931) and India (1932), while West Indies paid their first visit to Australia and New Zealand (1930-31).

This was a most remarkable climacteric; in hindsight, it was from these conferences that international cricket really sprang, doubling the number of participants, rather than from those in 1909 whose centenary the ICC marked two years ago. For an organisation as formal and ceremonial as Marylebone, it now seems deliciously ad hoc, reminiscent of the historian Sir John Seeley's remark that the British acquired their empire "in a fit of absent-mindedness".

The idea of a junior tier of involvement then dates from July 1965, when the Imperial Cricket Conference changed its name to the International Cricket Conference, and its rules so as to accommodate members from outside the Commonwealth. Ceylon, Fiji and the United States became the first "associate members", their ranks swelled further the following year by Bermuda, Denmark, East Africa and the Netherlands.

In 1971, augmented by Argentina, Bermuda, Canada, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Israel, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Singapore, associate members received voting rights. Four years later, for no screamingly obvious reason, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and East Africa were invited to put the "world" in World Cup when the first event was staged in England; only the 1992 World Cup, also an ANZAC enterprise, has gone without associate member involvement since.

The third phase of globalisation commenced as an Indian initiative, with the presidency of Jagmohan Dalmiya at the ICC. Casting envious eyes on the "world game" that soccer had become, he exhibited a missionary zeal for expanding cricket's horizons. If his modus operandi sometimes looked he was throwing darts at a map of the world, he provided cricket with its first specific development bankroll: the inaugural ICC Knockout in 1998 was staged expressly to endow the council's development programme. And with the revolution in cricket's finances over which Dalmiya presided, the ICC could finally afford to make associate membership mean something financially, and affiliate membership too. Numbers of affiliate members grew from six then to 60 today.

On elite cricket, however, this process left negligible trace. It remains true that while no former British colony has won soccer's World Cup, only former British colonies have won cricket's. Boards of control consented to development not because they saw it is a priority but because it seemed like A Good Idea, and perhaps also because they sounded so weighty when they said things like: "Of course, we're looking at China." In particular, they exhibited negligible interest in scheduling fixtures with associates, their attitude being that by signing off on ICC development budgets they had, as it were, "given at the office".

The ICC's development strategy has changed in the last few years, from a horizontal model, spreading cricket to as many countries as it could conveniently colour in on the glove, to a vertical one, investing most heavily where results are most promising. Fearless, feisty Ireland is a success story - or at least it was.

What's also changed in the last five years, ironically, is India itself. A decade ago, globalisation was explained as a long-term strategy to enhance cricket's cultural and eventually its commercial potential. Today, long-term thinking is so 20th century: it's far more satisfying and filling to gorge on the low-hanging fruit in the Indian orchard.

This has, one suspects, had a subtly negative impact on cricket's interest in new frontiers. It's a corporate logic: the core product is ticking over nicely; why bother with research and development? It's also an organisational outcome: each member of the ICC executive board represents a national board of control; what do any of them gain from spreading cricket's reach as opposed to increasing their own share of the growing spoils? Especially when, India's aside, boards worldwide are strapped for cash right now.

Cricket's Irish Question, then, is inseparable from this hinge point in the game's development, and is a test of its administration's good faith. That being so, it is hard to feel confident. A shrewd Australian prime minister - not that one, but the one before him - once said: "Always back self-interest. At least you know it's trying." Here, however, that will turn this Irish Question into an Irish Joke.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

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Posted by Jonah58 on (May 1, 2011, 16:49 GMT)

@Zakirul Haque I think you will find that mini series was tied 1-1 ?

Posted by Cricketfan333 on (May 1, 2011, 16:41 GMT)

@Zakirul Haque In 2011,Ireland lost to Zimbawe/Kenya in Dubai because they were outside international cricket for months.They were unable to adapt to hot conditions in Dubai fastly from winter in Ireland.Just some days after loss,in India, Ireland without Joyce,Portefield defeated a full strength zimbawe team.

Posted by   on (May 1, 2011, 15:42 GMT)

Jonah58: Bangladesh did beat Ireland in Ireland in the middle of 2010. Ireland also lost to Zimbabwe and Kenya in 2010/2011.

Posted by Cricketfan333 on (May 1, 2011, 14:40 GMT)

I feel 14 member format is the best world cup format as the best 4 associates play 6 matches than 6 associates playing 3 matches.I also feel the teams that qualify should be Ireland,Afghans,Nepal,PNG as cricket have become popular here.Netherlands is disliked by me unlike Ireland because it compose mainly of imported players from test nations.Afghan,Nepal,PNG have no imported player.Most important players of Ireland are of Iirish origin.Also,people and govt of Ireland have become interested in cricket.

Posted by Jonah58 on (May 1, 2011, 12:48 GMT)

@enigma I think you have your reasoning screwed yet again,cricket is declining in its base markets precisely because people are sick of paying to see Ind v SL again, Eng V Aus again (3 ashes series in 40 months there is overkill for you!), Zim V anybody again, Bang V just about anybody again. Nobody is suggesting Irl, Neds or Afg are scared of playing anybody (except maybe you), Bang haven't beaten Irl outside of Bang for years, Zim only beat an Irl team missing 4 or 5 1st team regulars 2-1 at home last time they met. The counties are glad to get the youngsters Irl have produced they are cheap and because of Bosman they will never have the issues the SA's and Ausis have with the Kolpak rulings. TBH if it were up to me I would rather see a load of WI kolpaks in CC than Saffas and Ausi's anyway why should CC develop them. But please do keep posting m8, its hard to have a decent debate when everybody else agrees.

Posted by jay57870 on (May 1, 2011, 12:19 GMT)

(Contd) We know what happened to the old Brit-Aussie Duopoly Gideon keeps admiring in his rear-view mirror! Those wanting to address "the Irish Question and a Global One" - a legitimate cause - need to look at other avenues. Doable, but the lead must be taken by "western" boards like CA & ECB. They must first get their act together. One avenue: Commonwealth Games; it was tried in Malaysia (1998) drawing 16 List A teams, big & small. To give Ireland & others due exposure, CWG cricket should be revived/upgraded to draw strong support. Plan CWG for long term: 2014 Scotland & 2018 Australia (possibly). Another avenue: Olympics (tried in 1900). For those screaming for equal opportunity in a world game, what better way to open new frontiers? Missed 2012 London. Plan ahead for 2016 Brazil & beyond, especially get China & USA to participate. What wouldn't China not do, with its vast resources, to grab top dog honours? And busting ICC-BCCI control, what a coup it'll be for Gideon? No Joke.

Posted by enigma77543 on (May 1, 2011, 12:01 GMT)

@clarke501, thanks for at least having a balanced view. @Mick Jones, again, thanks for having a balanced view. You've said - "overwhelming majority of cricket fans want a bigger world cup. The people who buy tickets and TV sports packages WANT more than ten teams" - Yeah, may be there're a fair few out there even in "cricketing nations" who'd "want" more teams but the truth of the matter is vast majority of them wouldn't ever spend their money &/or time on watching games involving minnows (one or both teams being minnows), the fact is that vast majority of games involving minnows don't even cover expenses & best way for any business to "listen to its customers" is thru profit which is what ICC are trying to do by having 10-team WC @andrew100notout, I'd agree that Irl (& other top Asso.) deserve a chance to QUALIFY, that's why I WHOLLY support 10-team WC with at least last 2 spots up for grabs in qualifiers so if an Associate can go past Ban or Zim they'll've surely earned a WC-spot.

Posted by jay57870 on (May 1, 2011, 11:59 GMT)

(Contd) Wake up Gideon! We're in the 21st Century; the cricket world has changed so dramatically. A UK journalist hails WC 2011 as "The best World Cup of all time." IPL 4 is booming: Catch Liz Hurley in Jaipur seal the Warne-led Rajasthan Royals win on Friday with a big Brit-Aussie smooch, stealing some thunder from that most-viewed Royal Kiss? OMG! And Time Magazine acclaims two great Indian cricketers - Sachin Tendulkar (2010) and MS Dhoni (2011) - on its list of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World." Cricket is now the "world's second most popular sport": India has no doubt led the way in boosting the game's growth, popularity and revenues. Like it or not, ICC & BCCI deserve credit, BCCI more so. Give the devil its due. What's more, the plate is full, given the complexity of managing the modern game, in its three distinct formats across a wide array of disparate nations & states. The plain reality: ICC cannot be everything to everybody. It's not the Olympics. (More next)

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (May 1, 2011, 11:34 GMT)

@Zakirul. Fair enough when you talk about the 4 day tests thing, it brings back a great solution, why don't the ICC organise more 4 day warm ups vs Ire and more A team matches for the Irish team to play? Do you think that extra exp would hold back the Irish team? Bet u not. An experienced Irish team would send shivers down the spine of the weaker full member teams.@enigma: Did you hear the interview done with an Irish team administrator? He says the Irish cricket team GENERATES MOST of its own money. They don't need much cash from ICC. To accuse them of merely wanting ICC funding is rude. Where is the proof of that? Why don't you accuse Zim of the same thing?

Posted by enigma77543 on (May 1, 2011, 11:33 GMT)

@Neutral_Fan, I've NEVER said that all countries must've public-interest as massive as that of Ban, I've merely said that there needs to be ENOUGH public-interest to render cricket financially viable which is NOT the case for any of the Associates, in fact, if cricket in all Associates would in all likelihood be dead if ICC & "cricketing nations" quit funding them which is what makes diddles/Jonah's comments about ICC & "cricketing nations" insularity absolutely laughable. As for County-cricket & Irl, you're basically saying that we should pass someone even though he's completely dependent on his fellow student for all his answers, that can't be deemed sustainable, Irl (or any team) MUST have their own systems if they've bigger dreams. Especially since counties have been making huge losses so in future, they might become more dependent on ECB for sustenance & therefore recruit less "non-England-qualified" players; even the number of counties may be reduced due to financial concerns.

Posted by shillingsworth on (May 1, 2011, 11:06 GMT)

@vissu295, In the 2007 World Cup India and Pakistan were eliminated on the basis of the results of 2 matches. The format for the 2011 version was changed precisely in order to stop this happening again. Associate countries were not given a fair chance. Had Ireland beaten Bangladesh, they still wouldn't have reached the KO stage - look at the tables.

Posted by enigma77543 on (May 1, 2011, 11:03 GMT)

@diddles, you need some Reading-Comprehension classes, mate. Here're YOUR "blond moments"-1.Public-interest IS declining in "cricketing nations" but that's BECAUSE OF uncompetitive & unexciting cricket & YOUR solution is....have more uncompetitive & unexciting games by allowing in more mediocre teams which aren't even financially viable. Wow! 2.You say ICC & "cricketing nations" (& people like myself) don't want to spread cricket EVEN THOUGH they've invested LOTS of money in Associate-cricket for DECADES. 3.You blame ICC & "cricketing nations" for being "insular"& then go on to praise ICC's development programs. 3. You say ICC & "cricketing nations" are "greedy" & self-interested but overlook the fact that the only reason Irl board/team want to play WC because that'll access them lots of free money, as there isn't enough of it in Irl. Not to mention, people work because they get paid, OMG! 4.You say Irl are better than Ban & Zim but won't back Irl to beat them in 10-team WC-qualifers

Posted by   on (May 1, 2011, 3:58 GMT)

NEUTRAL_Fan: Draws in those days were much easier. NZ, India, and Pakistan used to play 4 day tests. England, Australia, or West Indies seldom used to send their first team. Once England sent two teams to Australia and NZ at the same time. There were no mandatory 90 overs bowling and no pressure of media and expectation.

Posted by diddles on (May 1, 2011, 3:17 GMT)

Well said Andrew101not out. And ideal number of teams in the world cup should be 16, like the twenty 20. Teams like Ireland, Netherlands, Afghanistan, Scotland, Canada and others such as PNG, USA, Uganda, Namibia, Bermuda, Nepal, etc would be vying for those spots and its a big enough carrot to really drive our game forward. Like me, you see the way rugby union runs a 20 team world cup and find it hard to fathom why cricket lacks such ambition. Are rugby administrators cringing about lopsided results...no, they taking a longer view, and teams like Georgia are improving with each world cup..more exposure has helped their game domestically. We are seeing the same thing with Ireland and Netherlands. It's not rocket science. And yes, to those smaller minded people, new sponsors can emerge when companies can see a sport expanding. As an Aussie, I have seen AFL and rugby league push their games to new markets and the reward financially has been bigger payouts by TV companies.

Posted by   on (May 1, 2011, 2:05 GMT)

It is obvious that at least two teams in the 10 do not deserve to be in the CWC ahead of Ireland and Holland and are in on a technicality. On the other hand ICC have logic in their view that CWC must be rid of free passengers, jetsam flotsam.

i guess the most satisfactory answer is to allow top 4 finishers in the 2011 CWC and hold qualification tournament to fill the next 6 places. This could be a rule for future.

ICC may not have all the necessary clout to do the right thing and my best guess is it may somehow end up letting 12 teams in the next CWC. That will not be too bad.

If the irish and the Hollandais could sneak in, ends of justice will indeed meet. served.

Posted by Kirk-at-Lords on (May 1, 2011, 1:04 GMT)

This has turned into a reasonably fruitful consultation, albeit with the odd harsh personal jab. A very quick summary: Cricket needs to retain or return to its roots as an honourable sport, continue the process of expansion into relatively new territory so it can aspire to being a global sport, and all the while still turn a reasonable profit as an ongoing private enterprise. This is a tall order, but a well organised form of international cricket governance could achieve it. Ian Chappell has in recent times written a number of good commentaries for ESPNCricinfo that rank in quality and insight with Mr Haigh's present article, calling for a complete reform of the ICC. The window between the WC's (2011-2015) seems the critical period in which this must happen. As for WC2015, a simple tweek ought to do the trick: video replays and blackouts. This is done in other sports so matches can overlap while still giving viewers the thrill of live action w/ no foreknowledge of outcomes.

Posted by andrew101notout on (April 30, 2011, 23:59 GMT)

Someone said that Ireland were the "most over-hyped" team in history. This, of course, isn't true. We aren't anything as bold as we will the World Cup, what we're saying is that we're good enough to deserve a chance to qualify, which is fair enough in my view. I'd personally want a 16- team World Cup the same as '07, but, instead of a "Super 8s" round have quarter-finals, semis and a final. There'd be fewer games 35 ( if my maths is correct) and the associates would be happy more would get to qualify. This won't happen though because the TV companies won't get their money. In rugby, there are twenty teams and many drubbings as well. NZ put a 100 points on Portugal in '07 but it's a 20-team world and it lasts for around 6 weeks, just saying!

Posted by vissu295 on (April 30, 2011, 18:12 GMT)

@clarke501, Ireland was close to playing quarter finals in the last world cup. They squandered a golden chance by losing (choking?) to bangladesh. You can't fault WC2011 format for Ireland's brainfart on that particular day. Ireland and Netherlands have played showed more character than the bangladesh team even though BD was one of the host countries. Who knows, these teams might even surprise some of the top teams in the next world cup. For that to happen, the WC2015's format has to change.

Posted by   on (April 30, 2011, 14:48 GMT)

1st. I'm a Cricket fan. 2nd. I'm a Cricket Ireland fan. Somewhere down the line I've become a Gideon Haigh fan. It's so important to keep this issue alive. Enigma is not wrong to remind us all about 'money', the point he misses (it seems to me) is that everywhere you look, the overwhelming majority of cricket fans want a bigger world cup. The people who buy tickets and TV sports packages WANT more than ten teams. Of course this isn't a democracy - but growing business requires that you listen to your customers. The ICC really need to open their ears and their minds. The fourteen match format worked fine - it was just too spread out over time and place. Fewer rest days (test teams play five days on the trot!) fewer grounds. After trying formats with 16 & 14 nations maybe (logically?) 12 would be the next thing to try. Personally I'd like 16 again. Commercially, I'd say it makes sense to 'go with the flow'. 12 is getting the punters votes!

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (April 30, 2011, 13:32 GMT)

@enigma. Not necessarily. NZ in comparison to Bangladesh NEVER had great public interest in cricket but they were always pretty competitive, especially when they had the occasional boom of talented cricketers. They punch above their weight due to athleticism and maturity and attitude and the Irish team has similarities to them in that respect. Even if NZ took a while to win tests, they had a lot of DRAWS and a team that can draw a test match is a competitive team. Also Irish players won't be automatically shut out of county because they are a part of Europe and Northern Ireland is actually a part of the UK and I do believe. County could very well be a long term grooming base for Irish cricket.

Posted by diddles on (April 30, 2011, 11:55 GMT)

Clarke501, thanks for your compliment regards my development work. There are many others across the world who deserve such compliments even more so. Regards facts, please access ICC Cricket website to see how well the development program is going. Its regularly updated and very informative. Enigma, who views are definitely very insular and self-interested, could do himself a big favour by consulting the same website or reading the annual ICC reports. The playing numbers across the non-test countries have multiplied many times thanks the development work of the last 15 years. Also, look outside cricket, and see how sports such Rugby Union, Rugby League and even Aussie Rules are trying to spread their games. The bottom line is that many test cricket administrations including Australia are operating inefficiently and as a consequence are not maximising their financial resources. The review that Cricket Australia is having is long overdue. CricketAust/NZ, a closed shop is not a world cup.

Posted by shillingsworth on (April 30, 2011, 11:51 GMT)

'Kudos to BCCI, Srilankan board and BCB for conducting the WC2011 in a manner where associate teams were given a fair chance.' Nonsense. The format was changed precisely in order to ensure that the top 8 countries reached the KO stage.

Posted by diddles on (April 30, 2011, 10:52 GMT)

Re Vissu295 comment that Cricket Australia/NZ should not host next world cup if they don't accept associates in it, I sadly wholeheartedly agree. Despite being a 5th generation Aussie, who did enjoy the 1992 World Cup (Zimbabwe competed as the associate in that cup) and who would love to take my son to the next one, I can't accept that the current selfish and short-sighted view taken by CA and Cricket NZ should be rewarded. At the next ICC meeting, India (and its fellow block members), which one can fairly say hasnt always been exercising its power responsibly to the benefit of the world game, can certainly capture the high moral ground if it and its fellow block members make it clear to Cricket Australia/NZ that next world cup will not proceed there unless at least 12 countries contest that event. If CA/NZ refuse to budge, offer the tournament to England and Wales/Ireland/Scotland/Netherlands, and include at least 14 counries in that event. BCCI, here's your chance to be the good guy.

Posted by shillingsworth on (April 30, 2011, 10:23 GMT)

@diddles - I applaud your work in spreading the great game. However, I don't think that anyone who has pointed out the barriers to cricket growing in associate nations is necessarily insular, a CA stooge, ignorant or any less of a cricket lover, nor do I think that they have no interest in seeing the game grow. It would surely be better to address the valid points raised by enigma.

Posted by remnant on (April 30, 2011, 10:04 GMT)

Please make it merit based 10 team round robin. That would allow the top 10 teams equal matches and then top 4 play knock out. That's a thumbs up to quality over mindless matches that evoke no interest due to lopsidededness.

The last 3-4 places can in the meantime be played off before 2015 or even all but the champs. You have 4 years to do schedule this in between.

Posted by enigma77543 on (April 30, 2011, 9:57 GMT)

@diddles, can you enlighten me as to why I don't want cricket to grow? That's a ridiculous claim. Of course I want cricket to grow but that doesn't mean I should suspend my rationality & start ignoring the real problems that lie ahead & start building castles in the air like you & a couple of others here are doing. As I've said before, FEW PEOPLE taking up cricket in a new country does NOT constitute "growth", for it to be considered REAL growth, there needs to be a lot of public-interest as only that will ensure LONG-TERM sustainability of cricket in such countries, & ICC & other boards will only welcome such new countries BUT until then, making any sweeping claims about "growth of cricket", like you're doing, is mere speculation. Some of you are just saying I'm wrong because you say so but none have actually taken the time to research the problems, especially financial, I've brought up & you continue to appeal to emotions rather than reason, it shows lack of intellectual depth.

Posted by tfjones1978 on (April 30, 2011, 9:30 GMT)

@enigma77543 I think that you are missing the point of cricket. The purpose of cricket is not to make money, it is about justice and ensuring equality for all. Try reading stories from the 19th Centuary about how cricket started and then tell me that money is important. Cricket was regularly played for about 140 years in Australia and England before money got in the way. Money was good to expand the game, but now it is being used as an excuse why the game cant expand. Think of this like black individuals living in South Africa prior to 1990. They were a citizens but had no right to vote and no right to have a say in their future. Over 90% of cricket nations are 2nd class cricket citizens they have the right to be a slave of the cricket system but no right to have a say and apparently no right to be involved any more. Under the 1926 charter most of the 105 countries would have been given the right to play test cricket. They need to reset cricket to this point. Money cant buy you love!

Posted by Jonah58 on (April 30, 2011, 8:46 GMT)

Oh enigma, why is it you seems to be the lone sane voice in the wilderness? Everytime somebody responds to one of your myopian points you come back with a reverse position to your original to prove you are right? Ireland, Afghanistan, Holland etc have cricket infrastructures, they may not be up to YOUR standards but they're there. By your words Cricket is declining in its core nations so the answer to the problem is to shut everybody else out, thats true 'Blonde moment' logic. The world cup takes too long to to complete so lets throw out 4 teams to make it 1 game shorter but lets have loads more of the matches that are turning people off by doing so! "You might by now have worked out that my sympathies lie with the associates; actually, I find it difficult to believe that a cricket lover could feel any other way, given that it is other cricket lovers who sustain the game in its outstations" says it all.

Posted by vissu295 on (April 30, 2011, 8:32 GMT)

ACB and NZ cricket board MUST allow more associates to participate in the WORLD cup. They just want to mint more and more money by keeping only the full member teams in the competition because the matches involving associates won't generate significant income. If they can't bear the loss, they MUST not host a WORLD cup. They can bid for champions trophy or some thing of that sort. Kudos to BCCI, Srilankan board and BCB for conducting the WC2011 in a manner where associate teams were given a fair chance.

Posted by diddles on (April 30, 2011, 6:23 GMT)

Come on cricket lovers, keep up your support of the associates and affiliates. The views of insular people like Enigma, who is giving a very good impression of a Cricket Australia/NZ stooge, are really copping a hammering and deservedly so. They have no real interest in seeing the game grow. As an Aussie, involved with a junior club, I have seen Colombians, Chinese, Dutch, Greeks, Italians, Koreans and Maltese take the game up. As well, I have helped Chileans take up the game in their homeland. In Chile, the game has grown a lot in the last 15 years, thanks to enthusiastic local and expatriate support and the ICC. The game is played in an increasing number of schools and enjoys local media attention and some sponsors and national government recognition as an official sport.The fact is that people like Enigma have little knowledge or care for the non-test countries, as can be seen by ignorant comments on the subject. Twenty 20 has a role, but countries like Ireland, etc can do muchmore.

Posted by   on (April 30, 2011, 5:35 GMT)

@rkannancrown - respect your opinion re: Dalmiya, (although he was complimented in this article too), but where did Speed squander ANY money? In fact if Speed's opinion was followed there would of been far reaching audits of Kenya & Zim cricket's finances. Something that was clearly needed.@MaxB - not entirely true - if a game that was on appearance going to be a walkover, (say Kenya v Sth Africa), that match could be scheduled as day game, once the premier match (say Eng v Aust), comes on that game gets coverage although the Kenya/Sth Africa match would still rate well in Africa. OR why not treat cricket a litle like Golf? Obviously the most popular/wll known sportsman in the world is Tiger Woods - but not EVERY shot is shown live in a telecast. Why not have 6 games on, with rolling coverage across all games. We know the overs between 15 & 40 tend to be LESS dramatic, so the games could be schedules where the 1st 10 overs of each match is live, (x 4) followed by the last 10 overs?????

Posted by enigma77543 on (April 30, 2011, 4:41 GMT)

@tfjones1978, you missed the most important consideration, mate - MONEY. Where would the money come from to make arrangements for all these matches? Cricket is a business-model like any other & people investing in it aren't doing it for charity & some of the changes you've suggested would lead to HUMONGOUS losses for ICC & the "cricketing nations" & then they wouldn't even have money to fund Associates-cricket, & bear in mind that there's very little public-interest in Associates to make cricket financially viable, that's why they're freeloading off ICC & "crickating nations". Are you by any chance a billionaire willing to support your changes financially? @Anneeq, you too are not considering the financial constraints, mate. WC2011 was a disaster, group-stage was rendered meaningless & boring as everyone knew which 8 teams would qualify, it brought losses to ICC & "cricketing nations" boards & cricket can't grow without their financial support, hence 10-team WC with qualifiers is ok.

Posted by enigma77543 on (April 30, 2011, 4:07 GMT)

@Jonah58, you seem to know very little about cricket; just having a basic level of domestic set-up is NOT enough to produce decent teams, look at Ban & Zim if you don't believe me, & bear in mind that their infrastructure (with 4-day FC) & public-interest in cricket is much superior to Irl's & YET they're struggling while only county-cricket is propping up Irl. And if you think Irl infra. is so good then why can't they field a better team? Why are they financially unviable & thus freeloading off ICC & "cricketing nations"? SA has already proved that with public-interest even domestic cricket can be kept competitive as well as financially viable. And don't compare SL with Irl, SL had FIRST-CLASS STRUCTURE in place DECADES in advance & enough interest in cricket to ensure its long-term future, Irl don't. Again, Irl fans' demand for 12-team WC is in effect their passive admission that they don't think Irl is good enough to knockout Ban or Zim in 10-team WC WITH QUALIFIERS.

Posted by enigma77543 on (April 30, 2011, 4:02 GMT)

@residentcomic, thanks for bringing up a very relevant point about the plummeting public-interest & revenues in Aus & NZ. Some people think ICC & "cricketing nations" making losses & thereby whole sport losing more & more money is somehow good for the sport, even though all the Associates are basically freeloading off the "cricketing nations" because there isn't a lot of public-interest in cricket in Associate-countries to generate revenues. Further, Irl board & team is just as "greedy" & self-interested as ICC or BCCI or anyone else so how can they point fingers at others? If only "minnow-backers" did some research, espcially about financial aspects of cricket, before making outrageous statements......

Posted by InnocentGuy on (April 29, 2011, 20:53 GMT)

@MaxB, very true. I had pointed out the same thing in another article about the Associate teams. The main problem that cricket has in spreading around the world is the amount of time it takes to complete a match. Unless a person truly likes the game, it is difficult for him/her to sustain interest in a game for 8 hrs or for 5 days. That's where T20 comes in handy. A 3-hr cricket match, although more commercialism than cricket, can at least help in spreading the game to new frontiers. Cricket needs to be an excitement filled spectacle for the world to take notice. And that can happen more frequently only in T20. The ICC has to decide between spreading the game wide or retaining the purity of the sport by not overdoing the T20 version. That said, genuine teams like Ireland need to be given the chance to grow their cricket. After all, Ireland would absolutely love to be a Test nation and that only be good for cricket.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (April 29, 2011, 19:27 GMT)

Its not only a question of Ireland. Afghanistan will beat Ireland in 2 out of 3 games and they are improving much faster. And they won't loose their players to a kingdom next door. Craze for the game and nursary is also much bigger in Afghanistan

Posted by enigma77543 on (April 29, 2011, 17:16 GMT)

@Neutral_Fan, mate, you missed my point about county-cricket & Irl team; currently county-cricket is propping up Irl which means if for some reason,its players couldn't find places in county-cricket, their players will be left without any competitive cricket & their standards would plummet quickly & they'd easily go down Kenya's path & that's why I don't think they should be hyped up like they've been when they don't even have their own systems or public-interest to sustain the sport in the long-run. Look at Ban, they've MASSIVE public-interest, even 4-day first-class structure (which Irl & other Associates don't) & YET they've been struggling to find their feet in International cricket so just imagine the state of countries that have none of Ban's public-interest or systems, can we really back them for going the distance? I don't think so. And that's why I believe 10-team WC with 9th & 10th spots up for grabs in qualifiers would be best keep WC competitive & financially viable.

Posted by Anneeq on (April 29, 2011, 16:13 GMT)

I honestly dont understand what was wrong with this world cup! 14 teams was a good number! Barring Kenya the associates played quite well. Too much is expected of them considering they only play high quality opposition in a 3 week period once every 4 years. Iv said a number of times on these stories that there shuld be 16 teams in the 50 over w/c. The top 6 should automatically qualify and the last 4 full members members plus all the associates and a few affiliates should have a qualification process where they play home and away over a 6 month period before the world cup. 6 months of exposure for associates is much better than 3 weeks! Plus they will play world class, quality opposition and if these quality players visit these associate countries it can only increase cricket's awareness! If England played Ireland or the Netherlands in either of their countries for a cricket w/c qualifier, im sure thatd increase cricket's profile in their respective countries!

Posted by Kirk-at-Lords on (April 29, 2011, 15:52 GMT)

Mr Haigh's historical outlook is the most valuable part of his article. It demonstrates just how narrowly based cricket is, compared to the world-reach of other sports. Even the insular American sports of baseball and football have managed to develop a wider support base than cricket, and basketball has truly gone global. India really is the only reason cricket is not a nice little sideshow. In fact, before India asserted itself within the sport both on and off the field in the mid 2000s, I experienced cricket as a lovely sport that fit well into its niche. It had honour, sportsmanship, and the time involved even in ODIs made it something of a chess match on grass. T20 and IPL has changed all that dramatically. The question squarely in front of cricket administrators and supporters is whether the sport can maintain its soul and recapture its spirit. Putting T20/IPL in its place will go a long way toward helping decide the Associates question and larger issues of cricket gov't.

Posted by tfjones1978 on (April 29, 2011, 15:28 GMT)

The ICC should do the following: (1) Scrap associate and affiliate placements and make ICC membership of 105 full members. (2) Create a 10 tiered test cricket system with 10 teams in each tier. (3) Relegate bottom 2 of each tier to be replaced with top 2 of lower tier every 2 or 4 years. (4) Scrap 1 seat for every full member and allow any 7 members to create an "Association" and that "Association" is given one seat on the 15 seat ICC council. (5) Make T20 WC 24 teams with all 105 teams qualifying (21 groups of 5 qualifiers=>6 groups of 4 =>2 groups of 4 Group stage=>Semis=>Final). The qualifiers can be played say 3 months prior to the world cup with the winner of each group (& best three 2nd placers) qualifying for world cup. (6) Other improvements can be made to make matches closer like using a "handicap" system to advantage weaker teams (they use to use this prior to test cricket starting in 1870s) of runs, fielders, wickets or similar to make it closer.

Posted by SDHM on (April 29, 2011, 14:49 GMT)

@ enigma - you're completely wrong there. Irish cricket does get quite a bit of press - the victory over England was front page news, although that may have something to do with who the opposition was :P. They're a sport obsessed nation, like the Australians or the English, and unlike in the subcontinent there are several sports vying for attention, so people aren't fanatical about just cricket. I'd also argue that because of the majority of the players being in county cricket, they don't particularly need a first class structure - they're getting the experience they need through the counties. The ICC and richer boards like the BCCI should be helping countries like Ireland and Bangladesh set up first class competitions if they want them to truly improve, but cutting teams from the World Cup won't help.

Posted by Jonah58 on (April 29, 2011, 13:46 GMT)

Gideon, thank you for a well thought out and written piece, but note Ireland do have a host of talent in the pipeline to suceed the present team because of the high profile of Irish cricket since 07&11, I hope you can get others like yourself on board in Aus to set ACB straight on the issue before June. However yet again enigma proves he knows nothing about associate cricket in general and Ireland in particular, as has been pointed out to him before a national board that produces European championship winning teams at U15, U17, U19 and in Ladies cricket obviously has no infrastructure in place, Paul Stirling, Eoin Morgan, George Dockrell and a host of other talented youngsters yet to be released on world cricket were all found in cabbage patches, and then signed by English counties. I am sure SL are very glad he wasnt on the ICC board when they were an associate not so very long ago.

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 13:27 GMT)

Nice article Gideon, as usual. However 'only the 1992 World Cup, also an ANZAC enterprise, has gone without associate member involvement since' is incorrect.

There has always been associate participation at the WC: Zimbabwe qualified for the 1992 WC by winning the 1990 ICC Trophy in Holland. They didn't play their first test until October 1992.

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 13:13 GMT)

I don't understand in what sense the other users say, the writer is bashing India. I think it accurately pinpoints the problem of Associates as the next big thing, the point on which the future of cricket hinges. Feed on the immediate riches of India, or look in the farther shores for hidden reserves of gold, accompanied by risk, of course. It seems the 1st option is an untapped, unbound piece of land, for now. Who knows what may happen in the future. What if the land loses its fertility? De we have an alternative? That's the long-term question.

A lot depends on when the ICC decides to confront it. Believe me, a moment too late, and the other lands will be occupied. An invasion is certainly not the answer. Cricket will lose to Football in that case. Expansion is what is needed, especially when there are lands unoccupied. There is no point in indulging to a temptation, especially when there is no permanent guarantee. I say, take on the unknown, before we lose what we have.

Posted by MeowCat on (April 29, 2011, 12:49 GMT)

Ireland/Dutch should play. Thats all and they need a better coaching staff + tours.

We have pathetic INdia v Sri lanka tours nobody even watches,those LAME "Micromax cups" that are not worth a penny

Instead we should play against diverse countries like the accosiates.

Posted by candyfloss on (April 29, 2011, 12:46 GMT)

@revelationme Totally agree with you.It seems this web site is obsessed with the BCCI.I hope you guys do post this.

Posted by IndianMigrant on (April 29, 2011, 12:39 GMT)

Showering praise on ECB for their tactics in early 1920's, even though we all know ECB couldn't do a thing to enhance the game which they dominated for a century both financially and skill wise reeks of author's bias, his anti india sentiment and blame BCCI for anything attitude. Authors use of phrases like former british colonies shows his true color. He couldn't even fully commit himself to praise dalmiya who made the game popular and stronger in the global arena within 5 years when ECB was just wagging the tail for a century. Gideon is a tool of the clan.

Posted by MaxB on (April 29, 2011, 12:32 GMT)

Gideon, I agree wholeheartedly. But the real problem (OK, apart from myopia) is television. It would be easy to accommodate 12 teams in a reasonable space of time but for the belief that the way to maximise revenue is to have every single game scheduled on a separate day so that a hypothetical TV viewer could watch every minute of every game in the tournament. Football and Rugby can do this while scheduling more than one match a day, but cricket can't. If the organisers simply accepted that one some days viewers would need to choose between (say) Ireland v Bangladesh and Netherlands v Zimbabwe - no problem. But that reduces the TV revenue, so the need for a shorter tournament drives out the Associates and cripples cricket's development as a global sport. It's short-sighted greed, essentially.

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 12:00 GMT)

Why do writers perpetuate a Lie, Ireland cannot be considered superior to Zimbabwe without beating Zimbabwe. They recently played a series which Ireland lost, Ditto Netherlands. There maybe a perception borne out of a Draw in the worldcup before this one in a (Drawn match) in which Ireland where fortunate to draw not the other way around so unless proven otherwise the writer has no right to cast unproven aspertions.

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (April 29, 2011, 11:53 GMT)

"You might by now have worked out that my sympathies lie with the associates; actually, I find it difficult to believe that a cricket lover could feel any other way, given that it is other cricket lovers who sustain the game in its outstations." Exactly! This is a paragraph I agree with totally. Any1 who thinks otherwise is NOT a TRUE cricket fan.@enigma. It is not the fact they won 2 games! It is the manner in which they won + the fact that they were competitive for most of the 100 or so overs of the other matches bar the SA match. Every1 knows the county circuit helps them...good! That way we know that most their players are ready for international cricket! That is the point! There is no proof BCCI is the main culprit but the fact that Zim and Bangladesh, the 2 most threatened teams, could miss out does make you wonder. Do you think the Aus,Eng and NZ would mind if Zim missed out considering their political friction? I personally don't think any of 12 teams should miss out.

Posted by rkannancrown on (April 29, 2011, 11:51 GMT)

A typical piece by Gideon Haigh - write some logical things & conclude by criticising India, BCCI etc. The fact is BCCI has spent money outside India to develop the game is something ignored in such analysis. He ends up by taking a swipe at Dalmiya ignoring the fact that his stewardship of ICC left it with good finances which have been squandered away by the likes of Malcolm Speed & Haroon Lorgat.The ICC bowed to Cricket australia which does not think it is financially viable to have more teams in the world cup. The key question however has to be the need to introduce some form of qualification to participate in the world cup. other games have it. So why not cricket ?

Posted by antarbh on (April 29, 2011, 11:18 GMT)

RE enigma77543: I agree that Ireland are a little over-hyped but they have beaten Bangledesh twice (2007 and 2010), pakistan in 2007 and England in 2011. They deserve to be called the next big thing. They set the world cup alight with the biggest ever run chase and the fastest ton and third fastest ton ever in the competition. The standard of the coaching and leagues in ireland can't be too bad if it is producing players of the calibre of Kevin O Brien (Railway Union), George Dockrell (formerly of Leinster now surrey) and John Mooney (North County). A12 team world cup is the way forward with 8 automatic entries and playoffs for the last 4 places. Ireland have more wins from their 2 world cups then Sri Lanka had. Gaa (Hurling and Gaelic football) are the biggest sports in Ireland but these sports are on the decline in Dublin and other urban centres so cricket can explode in popularity if the national team keep upsetting the elite few.

Posted by greeny69 on (April 29, 2011, 10:57 GMT)

good artical but in 1992 zimbabwe was an associate and given full member status after the wold cup so this will be the 1st wc without an associate

Posted by zimzim on (April 29, 2011, 10:23 GMT)

As a zimbabwean we are tired of this nonsense lets have the qualifiers or whatever then people will shut up Ireland and Nederland really have improved but lets not be emotional and get real. We did it with an A side in the intercontinental cup and will do so again. BTW Gideon Zimmies are back to playing test cricket guess you dont do current affairs just cricket history :-). This is the same language we heard when Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower were paying too.

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 9:45 GMT)

It is absolutely necessary to spread the game to more countries and should not be restricted to few nations. Money should not be the guiding factor. In fact there could be qualifying rounds conducted at feasible venues and qualifying team numbering to say 6 or 4 could be taken into the final rounds, so that qualify of game will determine the entry. Many of the so called member nations who seemingly play good quality game were once upon a time worse than the so called minnows teams of today!

Posted by ranpath on (April 29, 2011, 9:37 GMT)

The ICC may want to consider other strategies. For example for the past say ten years ceratin teams have been unable to rise above virtually "last place " position in both Test and One Day rankings. Maybe it is time to consider giving some of the stronger associates ( e.g. ireland, Kenya, Holland) Test and full One Day status and expanding cricket into two leagues -a case that was advanced a few years ago I believe - with relegation and upgrading an added feature.

Posted by John-Price on (April 29, 2011, 9:35 GMT)

A good article but it omits to mention the early ICC Trophy competitions, in particular those of 1979 and 1982. These remarkable events took pace in the UK and were organised by volunteers co-ordinated by the Midlands Club Cricket Conference on the club grounds of the region. Hundreds of practice matches took place between local clubs and the fifteen or so participants. (I recall my own club playing against the USA.) It was a real example of the much-vaulted Spirit of Cricket and an important development in the world game.

Posted by Foxswoop on (April 29, 2011, 9:09 GMT)

I'm Australian and I want to put the World back into the World Cup. The ICC are a basket case and the Aust Cricket Board is as resposible as anyone for of this to happen. I want the likes of Ireland and the Netherlands (and any other associate member who is good enough) at the World Cup in Oz & NZ in 2015. For this not to happen only drags cricket back. Memo ICC: Your role is about the expansion of the game, not the subtraction that is happening now.

Posted by bala-chala on (April 29, 2011, 8:45 GMT)

The other cricket boards who suck up to the BCCI are also to be blamed. They need to stand up for themselves and should realize that getting in the good books of the BCCI is not going to help them in the long run.

Posted by londondoc on (April 29, 2011, 8:42 GMT)

I thought Mr Haigh was one person who gave a balanced view. Am sorry that he too has joined the bandwagon of people who love to bash the BCCI for anything that they dont agree with in the world of cricket. Very disappointing article

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 8:38 GMT)

It's not just an Irish question. Who knows where Afghanistan will be in 2015, particularly if they are allowed to play ODIs against full members. The Netherlands have just beaten Yorkshire and Derbyshire playing without Ten Doeschate and Kervezee. 12 teams is too few. The top ranking 15 should play the world cup. Three groups of five teams, seeded 1 to 5, with the top two in each group going through. Replace the semis and quarters with two round robin groups of three teams. The top team from each group plays the final. Second placed play for third/fourth place. Reserve a day for rain affected matches. Shorter, more competitive at each stage, and .... fair.

Posted by zwartedepiet on (April 29, 2011, 8:27 GMT)

Netherlands two from two in the English CB40 over comp. Last year they couldnt buy a win. Whats changed? Oh yeah, they participated in a World Cup, pushing England mighty close, giving India a scare and they shouldve beaten Ireland having scored 306. Seems their time at the world cup did them some good. And Ricky Ponting (that bastion for all things good in cricket) says he doesnt think Associates learn much from being at World Cups. Netherlands have learnt that County Cricket is actually not the best standard. They have benefited from playing the best in the world, are a much stronger team for it and will continue to improve over the next four years. Forget the 'blame game' everyone, it doesnt matter two hoots to the associates whether it is Indias fault or whoever it is. The fact is that all full member countries have looked after themselves on this matter and certainly not in the best interests of cricket.

Posted by vatsa13 on (April 29, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

India shud make a team of youngsters who have not got chance to play in world cup, M vijay, M pandey, Uthappa, Valthaty, Ruyudu, Venugopal, Badrinath, Rohit sharma, P Ojha, Amit misra, Ishant sharma, RP sing, Vinay kumar, Mithun, Trivedi, Gony... then and send them to play ODI series with ireland,zimbabwe,netherland....It will be good experience to every one...

Posted by yoogi on (April 29, 2011, 7:36 GMT)

Its common for boards to join hands so that the other would help when you need a vote. So India might help Bangladesh with voting against Ireland. Not for any other reason. Ireland or Zimbabwe doesnt affect indians in any other manner. But bangladesh, we might need them.

Posted by revelationme on (April 29, 2011, 7:35 GMT)

Really, it would appear that everyhting in the world is BCCI's and India's fault. WICB drops Gayle and he decides to play in the IPL-BCCI Is the culprit. SLCB gives NOCs till 20th May an dthen bactrach-of course, it's all because of India. Australia and NZ want only 10 countries for their WC- guess what, it has to be the BCCI. Come on. WE all agree that BCCI is no Mother Teresa Foundation, but really, although it may come as a surprise to you, but its also not the root cause of all evil that plague the world. All of us sympathize with the Irish, but by laying the blame squarely with India for no rhyme and reason, you are not doing them any favours. Just making it a joke out of it, a BCCI bashing party. Expected something better from the article.

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 7:02 GMT)

You have a long record of abusing India for all of the world's problems.At best, you can point to BCCI. It is not surprising that with an incompetent editor, such articles get published. I guess the editor was chosen for his sole qualification that he can be easily manipulated by the big bosses at ESPN.

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 6:55 GMT)

Very nice and very true... I don't understand why N.Z and Aus are abjecting on associates. ICC is not only for the full members to entertain them, ICC should be for the betterment and globalization of cricket. There should be a knockout ODI which include more associates.

Posted by bonaku on (April 29, 2011, 6:55 GMT)

It is austalia, NZ who want 10 team WC not India. As usually you are just biased and xenophobic.

Posted by Looch on (April 29, 2011, 6:47 GMT)

Another great article Gideon, I hope the ICC read it. @Agnihothra the ICC made the decision not "Aussies and Kiwis" as you say and "for heaven's sake" you can't keep India out of it , they rule world cricket as were are told daily on this website!

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 29, 2011, 6:45 GMT)

The overwhelming argument for not having a qualification is that the ICC is terrified that at least one and possibly two of Zimbabwe, Bangladesh or the West Indies might not qualify and that would make the Big Ten concenpt look silly and then throw into question the voting rights and voting alliances in the ICC. After all, when Bangladesh and Ireland had the cheek to qualify for the second round in 2007 the rules were changed to make sure that it wouldn't happen again.

Posted by enigma77543 on (April 29, 2011, 6:44 GMT)

Irl team must be the most overhyped team in the history of cricket. Seriously, they've just won 2 games worth taking any notice in 2 WCs & everyone's talking as if the world would end if Irl don't play in WC2015! In Irl, interest in cricket is almost negligible compared to other minnows like Ban, they've no infrastructure in place & the only reason they've got few decent players is because of county-cricket & YET all this brouhaha! Writer's sense of "business logic" is terrible, businessmen don't just sit there while the going's good & same holds true for ICC (& BCCI), they'd want to bring more money to the table by spreading cricket & that's why they've been investing so much money into Associate-cricket but there's a balance to be had &, at least for the moment, 10-teams is what offers that balance between financial viability & spreading cricket; I think evntually ICC will agree on qualifiers for last 2 spots anyway. BTW, Irl board/team are just as self-interested as ICC or anyone.

Posted by ygkd on (April 29, 2011, 6:43 GMT)

There is little question that this bloke is the best cricket writer today. One could only fantasize about what would happen if his thoughts ran the ICC.

Posted by Notredam on (April 29, 2011, 6:37 GMT)

It seems only asian block participation is important..

FIrstly they inculded...Lanka..then bangla...now they wud..afghanistan..and china..

what next..Nepal..honk kong of course...

Canada..holland..scottish..Namibia..Kenya...Usa...have all faded..

soon to follow Ireland..fades away...well done ICC well done..

Posted by Notredam on (April 29, 2011, 6:32 GMT)

Well said gideon...Really awesome article..

Posted by residentcomic on (April 29, 2011, 6:32 GMT)

Wow, So much is written about this topic . .. has Gideon/anyone considered that the real reason behind the associates losing their spot in the next world cup may be due to the next to zero appeptite for cricket in Aus/NZ? I mean, hardly anyone turned up to watch Eng/Aus and the ratings were a shambles, what hope is there of anyone making any money out of staging a "world cup" match between two associates! Bad result for the associates but always back self interest hey,Mr Haig

Posted by harshalb on (April 29, 2011, 6:27 GMT)

Such a long article...impossible to read before commenting...but yes I agree with you.

Posted by Notredam on (April 29, 2011, 6:23 GMT)

Irish shud play..they have all the love and support of indian public..the asian bloc...everywhere they go..they have fire in thier belly and great attitiude..

Posted by residentcomic on (April 29, 2011, 6:23 GMT)

Wow. All those words, wonder if Gideon/anyone, has stopped to consider that the reason for excluding the associates might be the next to zero appetite of the Australian/NZ public to watch cricket? I mean if hardly anyone turned up to watch the Eng/Aus one dayers, and the TV ratings were a shambles, what hope in hell is there that anyone would make any money out of staging "world cup" maches with 2 associated playing each other? Not a good result for the associates but "always back self-interest" hey?

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 6:17 GMT)

I am NOT a football fan. I don't watch the EPL and what not. And even I was interested in the FIFA cup. I even went so far as to actively back Spain. When the FIFA takes place, everyone is interested from day one. There are so many countries and hence, so many non-contests. Yet people watch all the matches. They watch them for love of the game. I am a true cricket lover and I watched all the matches of the worldcup 2011. Ireland was extremely impressive but Netherlands were much better than their scoreline suggested. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is, if the FIFA cup can retain interest with loads of teams, so can cricket, at-least for true fans. We are merely prejudiced towards the stronger sides. Sometimes we would see better quality cricket in an Ireland-Netherlands match than in an England-Australia match. Arrange triangular and quadrangular tournaments with associates and test nations together, and let new rivalries be born. Don't make the worldcup a champion's trophy!

Posted by Agnihothra on (April 29, 2011, 5:35 GMT)

I suppose every body will be happy if Ireland replace Zimbabwe.Aussies and Kiwis ae the hosts and THEY did not want the associates.But its unfair on Irish to be left out as they have done wonderfully in 2011 CWC. So Mr Haigh convince YOUR cricket boards to go for bigger team competition,and for heaven's sake keep INDIA out of it .No self interest in keeping Irish out of the world cup for the indians.

Posted by mikeindex on (April 29, 2011, 5:30 GMT)

What an outstanding article.

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 5:07 GMT)

i hope ireland and the associates don't take this lying down. they should have taken recourse to legal action a long time ago. but its never too late.!

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 5:05 GMT)

Part of the beauty of the football World Cup is that 32 nations compete for it. I´m from Australia and after just qualifying twice in a row we feel entitled to be there - and it has done wonders for the game in my country.

We were never going to beat Brazil in 2006 and lost to Germany 4-0 last year, but that didn´t make the experience negative for either the tournament or Australia. If we expand the cricket WC to more teams, sure teams 12-18 may have no chance of winning but think of the bigger picture. The cricket equivalents of North Korea and New Zealand should be allowed to play. Why not have 8 pools of 4 like football? If the top 8 teams are that good they qualify easily anyway, but along the way they could guarantee the expansion of the game and the development of the teams that may be the game´s future.

Australia was no one in football a few years ago. Earlier this year we beat Germany. Stranger things can happen when teams are given a chance.

Posted by   on (April 29, 2011, 3:36 GMT)

Oh Mr. Haig, I wish I didn't agree with you.

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Gideon HaighClose
Gideon Haigh Born in London of a Yorkshire father, raised in Australia by a Tasmanian mother, Gideon Haigh lives in Melbourne with a cat, Trumper. He has written 19 books and edited a further seven. He is also a life member and perennial vice-president of the South Yarra CC.

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Plays of the day from the first ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan

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