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Opinion: On Bermuda and small countries….

People always ask me, whether Bermuda, being so small a country, can be a good team even if they go ahead and invest a lot of money in the system. They have a cricket economy which is very small, and they also do not have a large enough player base. Recently, there was a debate about this (which I found surprising) between past Bermuda players. Some were saying that Bermuda should integrate with WI union becuase they are too small otherwise, some were saying they should remain independent.

I always take the example of two countries in such a comparison. Antigua, part of the WI, is as small as Bermuda (60K people). If it had its independent team in 1988, it would have had Curtly Ambrose, Viv Richards, Richie Richardson, Winston Benjamin and Baptiiste in their team, perhaps even a very young Kenneth Bejamin. That team would have thrashed around everyone else at that time. So yes, Bermuda CAN have a champion side with such a small population, but that is based on exceptional talent, and it is not going to be sustainable.

The second situation that I take into account is that of Zimbabwe, which had less than 100K whites in that country, and at least till late nineties, they were the only ones playing cricket. Zimbabwe had a pretty decent team with that small a cricket playing population base.

The main problem to me is that the country's cricket economy, and their overall economy, is so small that they will not be able to host more than 3-4 ODIs in a year. After all, you cannot expect to fill the grounds with the same people over and over again; people have a limit to how many games they will watch and buy a ticket for. Also, they are never going to increase ICC's viewership / sponsorship, because they dont have a large enough playing base. Finally, it also seems that they are unlikely to influence any other country for the promotion of the game, instead it is quite likely that they will be easily influenced themselves, because the player base is not big enough.

Having said all of this, one has to understand that World Cup qualificiation and Development are essentially two different things, but the ICC tends to mix them up. For development there are different variables that you would look at, but for World Cup qualification and particiaption, the only thing you would look at is standard. Size of the country, political stability, player composition, junior performance, public interest, govt interest etc are things that are thrown out of the window. Only standard matter, not even if the country is an affiliate or associate member of the ICC.

Bermuda qualified for the World Cup and for the High Performance program in a fair and square manner. They deserve the limelight. They deserve the sport for the World Cup and they deserve the current ODI status till the next ICC trophy.

But the ICC has to show some brains. Cricket expansion has nothing to do with how many countries are playing the game, but how many people are playing the game. The top 10 countries of the world in terms of population have 64% of the population of the world, and the top 40 have 90% of the population. There are 200 countries in the world, and the ICC should not get massively excited about signing up Guernsey, Jersey, Vanuatu, Gibraltar, Cook Islands, Samoa, Turks and Caicos, Cayman Islands etc. They are just too small, and if the funds are limited, it would be better for the ICC's global expansion program to spend it on other countries which have a significant population. Of course, if these tiny countries manage to qualify do well in the ICC Trophy or something and qualify for the world cup, they should be given the same funds and oppurtunities as the others.

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