The white elephants of Brand World Cup

The white elephants of Brand World Cup

The white elephants of Brand World Cup, Who can forget the mauling that England received in the previous edition of the World Cup from not just one but two minnows.

Who can forget the mauling that England received in the previous edition of the World Cup from not just one but two minnows. First, Ireland chased down a mammoth 327 courtesy of the heroics of Kevin O’Brien and then a week later, England were humbled by Bangladesh who won by two wickets chasing down a total of 225. In the 2003 edition, Kenya became the only non-Test playing nation to enter the World Cup semi-finals and continues to hold that record, though they will not be featuring this time around.

Every World Cup seems to feature such upsets but the bottom line remains that all these achievements always get to be flashes of isolated brilliance that last one edition. None of these ‘under-gradates’ have shown any level of consistency at the premier event. In fact they may never have a second fling from the qualifiers. Of course, Zimbabwe can stake clam to have risen from the ranks largely because of the herculean effort of the grand old man John Traicos (who also represented South Africa) including the match that brought the batting brilliance of Kapil Dev to the fore in 1983.

That apart, most of the cricketing green-horns are journeymen who are there to complete the league numbers required for the World Cup. The very fact that the odd win they register is termed an upset is because the associate members are hardly counted upon to beat the regular Test playing nations.

The eleventh edition of the ICC World Cup will feature four associate teams in United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Ireland, and Scotland.

They will feature in 22 out of the 42 league matches where the opposition is a Test playing nation. However, it is time to take a pragmatic view and find out if such ‘accommodated’ teams warrant a second look-in. One can understand the need to take the sport to a larger audience and woo talent from other nations. However, whether the ICC is going about the task is debatable. Just consider this-Since the 2011 World Cup, Ireland has played only 11 ODIs against full members and while it was ten in the case of Afghanistan. It is almost ditto with UAE and Scotland.

With such scanty exposure, bleeding the associate teams in a priced tournament seems like an exercise in futility. The ICC should probably look into exposing the minnows to the likes of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh more often to nurture cricketers and pave the way for competitive zeal that is qualitatively better.

The governing cricket body has already announced its plans for the 2019 World Cup in England where the contenders would be trimmed from the present 14 to 10, with the top eight sides in the ODI rankings as on September 30, 2017, qualifying automatically. The remaining two positions would be filled via the World Cup qualifying tournament in Bangladesh in 2018. Theoretically, the associates remain in contention for those spots but their qualification can only be made feasible if they are bolstered to face the established teams and, more importantly, make a mark.

By: P Krishnamurthy

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