ICC chief executive David Richardson said that he believes the current format of the World T20 has proven to be a success, but says he will push for at least two more teams to be added to the first and second round in future competitions. Richardson made the comments ahead of Sunday's men's and women's finals in which he also discussed opportunities for Associate cricket outside of ICC events, including potential inclusion in the Olympics.
"I think the format itself works. Whether we promoted those first round matches well enough, that's a question we need to answer at a later stage and review it," Richardson told Cricket Radio in an interview ahead of Sunday's finals. "The format has worked in that all the matches, first round and second round, it's designed to create even contests between the teams and to that extent it's worked exceptionally well."
"Whether we move to perhaps increasing the size of the tournament by adding one or two teams, or one team to each group in that first round, I think if we can do that number one we'll provide more opportunities to other teams but number two, if you do lose two matches you've still got a chance in a group of five whereas in a group of four, you're dead and buried. That might be useful and then even maybe increasing, instead of having a Super 10 have a Super 12 maybe which will again increase the number of matches but I think it will give more opportunities for the Associate members to participate in the second round of the tournament itself."
Richardson also rejected the assertions made about the first round not being part of the actual tournament - in reference to comments by Associate captains such as Scotland's Preston Mommsen and Netherlands Peter Borren - and also deflected criticisms about the lack of opportunities for Associate teams in between World Cups, saying the the ICC helps them out by subsidizing competitions like the Intercontinental Cup and World Cricket League.
"Don't forget the first round, although it wasn't as well attended as we would have liked, is part of the tournament," Richardson said. "So they qualified for the tournament, they went through it, they had to compete to get into the tournament with other teams and it's a bit like Wimbledon or any of these major tournaments where you go through pre-qualifying sometimes, you make the tournament itself and unfortunately you lose in the first round and you're on your way.
"So I think on the one hand we want to more opportunities for the Associate members. We want to try and achieve more competitive teams at the highest level, but on the other hand if you're an Associate member player, you play for Scotland or Holland, the ICC pays for you to go play in the Intercontinental Cup, the World Cricket League Championship, play in ICC events from time to time. It's not all bad. So I think we must try and avoid a sense of entitlement, whether it's from the Associate members or the Full Members."
Further to that point, Richardson said that keeping the World T20 to a four-year cycle and sticking to plans for a 10-team World Cup in 2019 is being done to safeguard to the financial health of all formats at ICC events and that all members will benefit financially, regardless of their participation or lack thereof.
"The danger of course is that if we keep pushing T20 and keep playing T20 events every two years, it'll effectively cannibalize the other two," Richardson said. "We want to make sure that we keep an even and more reasonable balance between the three formats, hence the decision to go with one men's World T20 in a four-year cycle.
"Again, the reason to go to a 10-team [2019 World Cup] tournament was done for a number of reasons some time back. Number one probably it was a format that would generate more competitive cricket and secondly more value. If we're honest with ourselves, a tournament which involves a guaranteed nine Indian matches is worth substantially more than a tournament with less Indian matches. And of course the money that's generated from that event is for the benefit of all members including the Associate members."
As for cricket in the Olympics, Richardson said that for it to have a chance of getting in for the 2024 Summer Games, there must be collective support shown by the ICC's membership base, in particular from the BCCI, in order for there to be a chance of inclusion. However, if there is a risk that an Olympic T20 tournament might devalue the ICC's own tournaments, then it would discourage the ICC and its members from pursuing the option.
"[The IOC is] not interested in beach cricket or six-a-side cricket. They would want the T20 format to be used at the Olympics," Richardson said. "I think the IOC woud like cricket but they would only take us if all the members were fully committed including India. Now the matter is being discussed again at the April meeting.
"Number one, all the member countries have to decide whether they would like to participate and whether there's enough benefit for them, both individually and collectively, and then secondly we also need to make sure that participation in the Olympics in a T20 event wouldn't devalue our own World T20 and of course that would be counter-productive."