My headline, in case you are either disinterested in cricket or not quite up to speed on the latest news, refers to the announcement in the last 24 hours that the International Cricket Council will be limiting participation in the next World Cup to 10 teams. Specifically, the 10 teams that are currently ‘full’ members of the ICC.
What is the significance of this, I hear you mumble?
Well, it means that no ‘associate’ nation will be allowed to take part. No Netherlands, no Canada, no Scotland, no Kenya, no Bermuda, and, most gallingly of all, no Ireland.
Why ‘most gallingly’, aren’t you just being unnecessarily jingoistic and self-righteous?
I’m glad you ask that, reassuringly predictable narrative technique. You see, Ireland have consistently been the best associate nation in the last 5-to-6 years. They beat two full nations, Bangladesh and Pakistan, in the 2007 World Cup – knocking the Pakistanis out, in fact – while drawing with another, Zimbabwe, in the same tournament. That was Ireland’s first appearance at a Cricket World Cup. In the 2011 World Cup, they cemented their status as the best associate nation present by beating England with a record run chase and the fastest century ever by Kevin O’Brien. In addition, they bested fellow associate nation the Netherlands and ran both Bangladesh and the West Indies mighty close, while also giving eventual winners India a brief scare.
Finally, and most tellingly, Ireland currently lie 10th in the World Rankings – ahead of full member nation, Zimbabwe.
Ok… Yeah this does sound kind of unfair… But why would the ICC want to exclude a team who have brought so much to the competition?
All in all, the ICC’s decision smacks of elitism. It shows a sport unique in the world in that it is not only disinterested in increasing its global audience and participation, but is also actively engaged in limiting its own expansion. A sport whose highest authority are seemingly hell-bent on preventing any challenge to the status quo. A sport whose prejudicial attitude in favour of its ‘established’ teams and markets against any emerging countries shows an innate disregard for the romance of the underdog.
The ICC should be ashamed of themselves, and should be pilloried by all who love the game of Cricket for their execrable decision.
Solidarity, brothers & sisters