Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
MS Dhoni, the India captain, has said it was important to spread cricket in more countries and look beyond mere commercial interests. He also felt that while the Associates had improved considerably, India had no time to give them games with an annual schedule that was too crowded already.
"You have to see that cricket is developing as a sport because what's very important is you want cricket to be a global sport when it comes to participation," Dhoni said after India had beaten UAE by nine wickets. "What's more important is rather than looking at it from a commercial point of view, what we have to make sure is where there's existence of the sport, it keeps on increasing there, and at the same time you look at some of the other countries where there's the prospect of playing cricket.
"I feel overall it's a win win situation, but what's most important is to make sure that if there's a bit of fire anywhere, you have to make sure it becomes a bush fire in terms of the intensity."
Dhoni said that some of the Associate sides had come a long way and deserved to be given more support in terms of facilities and chances. "If you see Afghanistan or some of the other teams, you can see a bit of improvement in their game every time they come and play. Whatever we have seen of a lot of the Associate nations, there has been a lot of improvement in their cricket. But we'll have to give them more opportunities and we have to make sure that the infrastructure in those countries gets better and better so more people can come and play cricket."
When asked if the Associate sides should get more matches against the big nations such as India, Dhoni said that with the IPL and Champions League already crunching their calendar to a little over nine months, his team could not pitch in.
"Not against India. I don't see even a few days off to play any more cricket than what we play. We can't, unless we play two games in one day, which is just not possible, because you want to keep the quality up.
"It's a difficult one. Yes, the Associate nations, if they can get a few more games, better scenario, good facilities, it will be good for them, but at the end of the day, it's like a circus where you want to play in front of people, you want to compete in the best scenarios. So we'll have to formulate a way, but please, not India. India can't play any more games."
Several Associate captains and coaches have criticised the ICC's move to limit the number of teams for the next World Cup to ten. Dhoni refrained from giving his opinion on the matter, saying that it was for the authorities to take a call on.
"You know, there's plenty of stuff on my table. We'll let the ICC decide; they should also do a bit of work, so let them sit in their air conditioned room and decide whether the Associate nations need to play in the World Cup or not because that's what they come up with. So the bunch of people will sit in the hall and they'll decide whether or not it's good for cricket."