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World Cup team reduction shows a few chickens had flown ICC's mental coop

Mark Smit | 2015-03-26 16:05:23.0
Mark Smit. File photo
Image by: Tyrone Arthur

The International Cricket Council (ICC) seems to be talking itself into a crows-nest of confusion again.

Dave Richardson, former wicketkeeper for South Africa and now ICC chief executive, said yesterday in response to a raging debate that there will be no change in plans to reduce the next Cricket World Cup to 10 teams.

He cites viewership ratings for game played by Associate sides (non-Test members) advertising revenue, other financial considerations and so on as reasons for this.

Then a little later, in the same interview, he argues that top of the list of ICC priorities is spreading the game to new frontiers, such as the United States.

My question is this; how is the United States going to be attracted?

Given that Americans like instant gratification in almost everything – including their sport – they will be most interested in playing Twent20 cricket and one-day limited overs internationals. They’re hardly going to embrace Test cricket, a five day game that often doesn’t end in a conclusive result.

So now the ICC reduces the World Cup to 10 teams, which would, all things being equally, be the major Test-playing nations.

How on earth, then, are the Americans – 99% percent of whom have never heard of cricket – ever going to challenge for a place in the World Cup – which would be their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

For that matter, how will they ever make it into a T20 world cup?

So if those goals are rendered impossible, what’s the attraction for them? Why bother playing cricket if getting onto the world stage is going to be nigh on impossible.

Obviously the ICC wants the US in the cricket fold; the money to be made there is the stuff of golden goose fairytales. But if it is going to break into that highly competitive market, it is going to have to offer what is essentially a naive and infant cricket-playing nation, some kind of carrot – not beat it with a stick.

Yet, like Test cricket, in which three countries, England India and Australia, now rule the game in an elite three-nation club, even the better Associate members, such as Ireland, which performed quite well in Australasia, are going to be out in the cold.

I can’t make any sense of it. But that’s nothing new. When the ICC came up with playing rules such as that which requires bowlers to look at the umpire when they appeal, I began to suspect a few chickens had flown their mental coop.

Then they came up with this asinine ruling that runners would no longer be allowed to help out injured batsmen in any kind of cricket. Stupidity personified, I call it and I predict many a Test and ODI is going to be won or lost on that mental aberration.

To spread cricket further afield the game must be made more inclusive, not more exclusive.

Wake up and smell the roses ICC. Goodness nose you’re producing enough manure to feed them.

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