Cricket legend and former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar has called ICC’s decision to make the 2019 Cricket World Cup a 10-team affair as “a backward step”.
It was only earlier this week, during a dinner event in Sydney, when Tendulkar spoke about increasing the participants up to 25. In addition, he also requested the ICC to let the ‘A’ side teams to regularly play Associates in order to provide a fair platform for the “minnows”.
It was in December last year when the International Cricket Council declared that only 10 teams would participate in the 2019 mega event instead of 14 teams like in 2011 and 2015 tournaments.
Expressing his disappointment at ICC’s decision to reduce the number of participating teams, the iconic batsman said, “I found out the next World Cup would only be ten teams, which is slightly disappointing because as a cricketer I want the game to be globalised as much as possible and, according to me, this is a backwards step. We’ve got to find ways of encouraging the lesser teams.”
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson, on the other hand, defended the international governing body’s decision.
The ICC defended its action saying that the game will become more competitive with top 8 teams competing and two teams qualifying for the event.
However, the Associates have proven their worth time and again. Ireland, one of the Associate teams, has managed to beat at least one Test playing nation in World Cups since 2007. In 2007, they beat Pakistan, where as in the 2011 ICC World Cup, the minnows convincingly chased a total of over 300 against England. Last month, in Nelson, they again chased a 300+ total against West Indies.
Even Kenya, a non-participating team in this edition of cricket’s most coveted tournament, has defeated Sri Lanka (2003 World Cup) and West Indies (1996 World Cup).
While speaking to the media, Tendulkar was also quoted as saying, “Right now, they (the Associates) get up after four years on the cricket world’s biggest platform and they’re expected to play and compete with the likes of Australia, South Africa, India, New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka, so many top sides. It’s unfair to them”.
Statistically, matches played by minnows have managed to bring in audience from different countries to support them. Unfortunately, ICC is hell-bent on making the event “more competitive”, which as per them cannot be possible with lowly ranked teams.
Sachin has requested the ICC to look into facts before arriving at this conclusion, as it could adversely affect the game.