By Rohan Seth:
There is a huge gap between the established and associate nations. The ICC Cricket World Cup is the premier global cricketing event and fans all around the world expect every match to be well contested with every team having a realistic chance of going all the way. The associate teams being clobbered and bowled out for paltry scores isn’t the best advertisement for the game. Much to the dismay of fans, all top nations don’t get to play against each other in formats accommodating more than 10 teams. It kills the interest of viewers and more importantly it kills the world cup. With Ireland being the exception, no other team has shown the mettle or ability to go loggerheads with the big boys of cricket in the current edition. Lets put our inflated sense of political correctness aside and accept that cricket isn’t so much of a ‘global’ sport. There are really 8 teams that have the individuals to put up a top-notch show on the field.
Take for example this World Cup Format, all the 8 major nations- India, Pakistan, England, South Africa, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka made it to the quarterfinals. As much as I respect the pedigree of the associate nations, no one would have put their money on any other team to qualify for the knockouts; the league stage turned out to be one long ‘practice’ session for the top countries. So basically one month of world cup cricket was played just to decipher who would meet who in the quarterfinals amongst the top nations; why have a format where a team which wins three matches in a row takes home the world cup. I don’t deem providing exposure to the associates, reason enough to obliterate the much-anticipated cricket establishment; every game should be well fought and hold great value and unfortunately that is not possible with the presence of Associate/Affiliate nations.
Yes we’ve seen previous instances of upsets, Kenya beating West Indies in 1996, Bangladesh scaling past Pakistan in 1999 and Ireland leapfrogging England in the current edition. However they have been very few and far between and in most cases they have had no effect on the overall outcome of the tournament. The belief that these wins will be the cornerstone of the associates improving has turned out to be erroneous. Kenya reached the semifinals of the 2003 World Cup(it got more than a couple of walkovers) and is now currently the lowest ranked associate nation. Bangladesh hasn’t been able to stamp its authority in the most formidable way and still has miles to go before it can challenge the might of an Australia or South Africa in alien conditions. Netherlands and Canada have put up good performances but again have failed to reprise them on a regular basis. A World Cup berth should be on the basis of consistent performances over a period of time and not one ‘upset’.
The writer is a student of University of Delhi. He is also a debater, footballer and an ardent sports fan.