Saturday, 11 April 2015

A Lesser World Cup ?

The Cricket World Cup (CWC) in its 2019 edition, in all probability, will be played among 10 nations. 8 top teams will be qualified automatically whereas next 2 teams will be chosen based on qualifying matches played before the world cup. The move has been criticized more than it has been welcomed. Cricket is not a very popular sport especially in European and American nations. There is a need to take the game beyond certain restricted incumbent boundaries.

One of the many ways to increase the popularity of the game is to involve the so-called associate nations in major cricket tournaments. As Rahul Dravid points out- "[it is important] for the growth of their [associate nations] game to be seen at a World Cup, the games being telecast Live back home in terms of sponsorship, government funding; its so important for them to be a part of this premier event. I think that's the least cricket can do." There are teams like UAE, Holland who have players, who are not regular cricketers but have other regular jobs. This does not augur well for the future of cricket in these nations. And a CWC without associate nations will further deplete the interest in the game in those nations. For any budding cricketer it is a dream to play in a world cup. It will be wrong to take that away from a player of an associate nation. This does not mean that every cricket playing nation should be allowed to play cricket but the current 14- team format seems fair enough.

Now lets see some of the counter arguments being made for the inclusion of associate nations in forthcoming CWC. It is feared that they will make the league matches a dry phase as more or less everybody can guess who will enter the knock out stages. This makes sense because the level of cricket played by associate nations are not upto the standards of a marquee event like CWC. But does excluding them make it up for that? Instead the cricket administration should look to develop the game in these nations by building required infrastructure. And also as Sachin Tendulkar opines "we need to look at how we can get these guys [associate nations] to raise their standard of playing and I think the standard of playing is only going to rise when they start playing against the top sides". He makes a valid point when he says that A- teams of top ODI playing nations should tour these associate nations more often.

A 10 nation CWC has its pros and cons but a sport's ultimate competition with only 10 participating nations does not sound good. If somebody is not good at something then the well accepted notion is to encourage them to increase their competency and not to push them out of competition. Many former cricketers have voiced their concern for this new change, how much will it affect the cricket administrators will be seen only in coming days. I would personally love to see the associate nations compete in next CWC.

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