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Give associates a fair chance or stop calling cricket a global game


Associate nations_cricket_expansion_ICC What are you smokin’ Mr. Richardson? Did you not see one of the richest cricket board's team crumbling against a rugby-crazy nation? Or you missed that match when ‘minnows’, who time and again have beaten top teams at the World Cup, got the better of two time world champions?
Would you care to shred this statement of yours, which isn’t making sense to anyone till now. “The World Cup itself, the premium event, without exception should be played between teams that are evenly matched and competitive”. England against New Zealand on Friday, looked the worse European side in the competition. The Eoin Morgan-led side was no match against Australia either in their first game.
So why for commercial reasons not have the associate nations not play the World Cup from the next edition. On the basis of their current performances, the next hosts, England, are worse than all the minnows in the World Cup. ICC probably feel Associates only add up to the length of the long World Cup. But mind you, their matches haven’t been one-sided thrashings, neither boring nor meaningless, not till now.
In this World Cup, the best game so far was Ireland’s comprehensive win against West Indies. Second best was U.A.E.’s nail biting loss against Zimbabwe, so why these nations should not be a part of ICC’s future plans is incomprehensible. Victories or impressive show by these teams makes the game more romantic, and of course brings the glorious uncertainties that all purists keep talking about.
Scotland too didn’t let the home side New Zealand win easy. What else do you expect from these ‘poor’ nations who hardly play competitive cricket and ever a series against full ‘rich’ members. No wonder Irish skipper William Porterfield was livid when his side's win over Caribbeans was termed as an upset.

I actually hate the term upsets, anything from members to associates,” he said. “I don't see why a team has to be an associate and a team has to be a full member. It’s like sure you’re ranked or whatever. It’s not like that in any other sport, so I don’t see why it has to be like that in ours.

Yes, the game needs money and money is with the handful of top teams and these associate nations only live on the dole given by ICC, but then how did India become a market leader? Their potential was only realised when as rank outsiders in 1983 they won the World Cup. The next World Cup (1987) was immediately hosted in India.
Sri Lanka was never a team to worry about till 1996. Things changed from there on. Some of the top cricketers in the world were discovered from the island nation after they got consistent backing till they won the World Cup. Therefore, teams which do well by the end of this World Cup should be given enough chances to prove their mettle.
If you look at it, Bangladesh since the time of becoming a full member haven’t done anything noteworthy at all. Why give them a long rope, why not let some others come in and give them too a long rope. What is the harm? Most of these sides have players who are amateurs, but they are amateurs because they don’t get enough cricket to make a profession out of it.
Why not have full members compulsorily host and tour one associate nation for an ODI series every year. How much loss would the rich boards suffer actually? Why not have lower ranked full members play the top associates. How does ICC expect these associate nations to up their level if they keep playing associate sides all the time?
It would be shameful if the 2019 and 2023 World Cups would not have Ireland, Scotland and Afghanistan in it. Make a road map for them till the next World Cup, give them competitive games and see how many ‘upsets’ they can create in the events that they are not supposed to be there. Let’s please not forget that India won the 1983 World Cup not as tournament favourites but at the odds of 66-1.
Even Sachin Tendulkar has backed the case of associates. He said, “When you want the game to globalise, we need to encourage more and more teams to participate, obviously not at the cost of dropping the standard of play but we need to look at how we can get these guys to raise their standard of playing and I think the standard of playing is only going to rise when they start playing against the top sides.”
Who else does the ICC want to back their case than the most trustworthy and honourable name in the game in last 20 years. By the way Tendulkar also happens to be ICC's brand ambassador for 2015 World Cup. Or may be ICC will be convinced only after one of these nations actually enters the knockout stage. Give them a fair chance or stop calling cricket a global game please.

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