Kick out all but the best Associate February 20, 2007

Holding slams World Cup minnows

Cricinfo staff
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Michael Holding has said that the World Cup will be devalued by the number of non-Test playing nations taking part.

Holding, the former West Indies fast bowler turned TV commentator, explained that only the top-ranked Associate country in the world should be allowed to take part as opposed to the top six as is the case now.

"I don't believe the World Cup should go on for as long as it does (almost two months) and that is partly because there are far too many teams in the competition who are not good enough to be there," he told Bermuda's Royal Gazette. "I've argued about this with the ICC for some time. I simply do not believe that if you come fourth in the ICC Trophy that you should be entitled to play in the World Cup.

"It doesn't make sense to me. What is gained by a team playing in the World Cup and getting absolutely hammered? In my opinion it is counter-productive. What I believe should happen is that all the non-Test playing nations should continue to play amongst themselves, to have their own competition where only the top-ranked country goes through to the World Cup.

"I see nothing wrong with giving the smaller teams the odd tour and a few games against the bigger teams from time to time. And I think the ICC should continue to invest in non-Test playing nations to improve their cricket and their infrastructure and things like that. But it's a big jump from that to having six non-Test nations all playing against the cream of the crop. It's not good for cricket."

Holding went on to say that he believed the tournament will be a success despite ongoing problems with stadium construction, soaring hotel prices, visa problems and reports of sluggish ticket sales. "There have been some problems in some aspects of the preparation, but the logistics of organising a World Cup which is spread out over a region made up of many sovereign nations, with different laws, governments and currencies, was always going to be hard.

"We tend to do things at the last minute in the Caribbean - it's part of our culture. Even on the morning of a Test match there's always people hammering in nails somewhere or somebody painting something. It's the same with tickets as well. People in the Caribbean don't buy tickets months in advance, they tend to do it on the day of the game or a couple of days before."