Interesting article on Cricket Monthly about the current situation of Dutch cricket.
It is good that the Dutch are shooting for a team that is 80% born and bred in Netherlands by 2018. The question would be, what standard will that team be at? To me, a country that cannot be in the top 6 associates with a born and bred (at least bred) team just isn’t ready for the next step to be playing the full members.
It seems that every time there is a cricket world cup, 2 discussions always come up. One, whether the associates should be playing the current world cup, and secondly, whether they should be playing the next world cup.
The ICC’s argument is that it needs money to fund associate cricket. In order to do that it has to maximize the TV revenue it can get from a world cup. It has already created a 45 day tournament, so now it is about maximizing the money it can extract out of those games. Ind vs UAE sells for a lot less than Ind v Eng, so lets ensure the latter. The associates don’t disagree with the fact that they need the funding, but they want to showcase their skills at the world stage.
Of all the world cups, this particular world cup should not have generated this debate. One, it was not just the associate games which were one sided, the ones between the test teams (including all quarters, one semi and the final) were also one sided. Secondly, Bangladesh qualified over England, and Ireland should have qualified over WI (why bother with NRR in a 2 way tie?). So it wasn’t the foregone conclusion that everyone thought it would be at the beginning of the tournament. Zimbabwe should have won their game against Pakistan, and Ireland, and maybe even India. They also played very well against South Africa.
But I love how the ICC tries to justify the reduction of the teams to 10.
“World Cup should be played between equal teams”.
Going by the current tournament, that would mean reduction to 5, not 10.
“The World Cup should not go on for this long”.
Well, the next one with 4 teams less is 2 days longer. Thats because it is the same number of games.
“ICC wants to have one marquee game in a day”.
Ok, then have 1 marquee game and 1 not so marquee game. The tournament should be finished in 30 days if they had played 2 games a day. One day and one day/night. the first one can be the one involving the associate, and the second one can be the one that is the marquee game. Specially in the Aus/NZ context, this would have meant only a 2 hour overlap, and most viewers can pick and choose what they want to do in that case. It is just ridiculous to expect a tournament to maintain interest and reach climax over 45-50 days. I think 30 days is the magic number, which has worked well for soccer, and also cricket world cups before 2000.
Personally, I think the 1999 format can work. It reduces the associates by 2, but at least thats better (and fairer) than them having to slug it out with 2 well funded test teams for the 2 spots.
But lets say the 1999 format is not an option and we must play a 10 team league. First, the question is why? Is it because we all think 1992 worked very well? It worked well because in those days, the top 8 teams were not playing each other year around outside of the world cup, and also because a completely new team (South Africa) started throwing all predictions off the table.
But lets assume that the 10 team format is it.
I think Michael Holding’s idea for reducing the number of automatic qualification from top 8, to top 6. The bottom 4 ranked teams, which currently are Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Pakistan and West Indies, would then have to play the top 6 associates to qualify. Im assuming such a qualification tournament would also be a 10 team round robin tournament, where every one of the six associates has at least 4 shots to tip a full member and take their spot. I think that is as reasonable as you can get in an inherently unfair system. But at least it is something.
But there are multiple problems with this. One, what if Ireland beats WI, or Pakistan? or Ken beats WI? One upset can always happen, and it has happened in the past. Would a world cup of cricket really be a world cup without either WI or Pak in the final 10? What will be said of the qualifier who may underperform at the main event? This looks very similar to the idea of the super 8s in the 2007 world cup, where the upset has not been taken into account. Personally, given the passion that Bangladesh people have for the game, I don’t see the point of even having them have to go through a qualifier. How can a celebration of the sport be complete with the absence of a team representing 150M followers?
Second, what if either Aus or Eng, or god forbid (for ICC) India, end up in the bottom 4 positions? What if they were to get knocked out? The ICC is making a format which it considers fair, and at the same time, it probably can’t even fund the main tournament if one of Aus, Eng or Ind go missing from it. FIFA makes a format and says its equal for everyone. it doesn’t matter if France doesn’t qualify, or Greece or someone else. Thats the format. This one is based on unfairness. And I always thought that the ICC was in place to ensure fairness. Otherwise the boards can manage their finances better.
But still, I think lets go ahead with top 6 automatically qualifying, and see what happens.
Given that the ICC has already decided that the qualifier will be in Bangladesh (since the conditions are so similar to the main tournament in England!!), it seems that the ICC is unlikely to change the number, and is at the moment willing to take the risk on only Zimbabwe not making it. But you have to keep in mind that Afghanistan did beat Bangladesh in Bangladesh. In my opinion, it will be a pity no matter who qualifies.