Cricket: Associate Members given hope by ICC

The ICC have not been the brightest bunch when it comes to decision making for World CupsAssociate members have been given hope of competing in the 2015 Cricket World after the International Cricket Council was asked to review the format of the competition. Earlier this month, the decision to allow only the 10 full ICC members to participate in the next World Cup sparked outrage from the associate and affiliate member nations such as Ireland, Netherlands and Kenya. They claimed that not only would they be prevented from playing on the sport’s biggest stage but also that it would damage the future of the sport in their countries.

It is evident that the ICC President Sharad Pawar has listened to the concerns and dissatisfaction among the associate and affiliate nations as this week he has asked to the executive board to reconsider the decision when they meet in Hong Kong in June for their Annual Conference. The meeting comes after the board turned down the possibility of a 12-team tournament earlier this month.

A statement released by Pawar read: ‘I have given this matter further serious thought and will request the board to consider this topic once more. I can understand the views of the associates and affiliates and ICC will seek to deal with this issue in the best way possible.”

While there are some doubts that the executive board will go back on their decision on having just ten teams, the very least that the associate and affiliate nations want is a qualification process. Given that there are plans to have such a process for the 2019 tournament, the non test playing nations are mystified by the decision to allow only the ten full members to participate in the tournament beforehand.

Ireland were the most angered by the decision as they are actually ranked higher in the world than full member Zimbabwe. After the decision to bar them from the 2015 World Cup, Ireland announced that they would consider legal proceedings against the ICC. However, even though this week’s statement from the ICC President was good news for the associate and affiliate nations, Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom gave it a cautious welcome.

He said, ‘”It’s still the first step in a lengthy process because after all, it’s the same individuals having the same debate on the same issue. I would like to think that the decision has been revisited as a result of a reflection on their duty to the sport as a whole but I suspect the reaction and the condemnation has had something to do with it. We have to keep the public pressure up. We will not let this matter lie. It is wrong, everyone knows it’s wrong. The decision must be overturned.”

If the executive board do decide to reverse their decision when they meet in June then it would be a major boost for the associate and affiliate nations as it would show that they do have a say and the ICC do take them seriously. However, if the board are stubborn then it would seriously damage the sport in those nations. It’s seems highly unjust that a country that has aspirations of becoming a test playing nation will never have the chance of being able to play on the biggest stage in the cricket. Also, children in such countries who want to take up cricket would not be able to aspire to representing their country in a major tournament. How is that fair?

While it may not prove to be a good spectacle having associate nations compete in the World Cup due to some one-sided results, the ICC and the full members must realise how damaging it would be to the associate and affiliate nations if they never have a chance of competing in the sport’s showpiece event.

It’s time for the big-gun mentality to stop!

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