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Do they really belong in T20?


“Finally, the super eights are here,” is what everyone watching the ICC World T20 is thinking. Hardly anybody was engrossed with the action in the group stages. The results were hardly shocking. The scheduling was designed to rid the WT20 of the teams included for the purpose of globalization. Mission accomplished.

The participation of these teams gives hope that cricket is not dead. But their performance indicates it will be a while before we find an Ashes series between two of these nations. Taking the game to different places has its advantages. However, one of the most significant disadvantages has been the dilution of competition in ICC events. The ICC cannot afford to leave these countries out of such tournaments. It is not only detrimental to the game’s future but also an acceptance of the fact that even a T20 game doesn’t hold the audience’s attention. If the quality of cricket played is below par, then attendance will follow suit. So the question here is why aren’t the associate teams, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe playing more matches among themselves?

The games between two of these teams should be exciting. They could be high scoring and nail-biting ones. Slowly but surely these games will catch the eyeballs of cricket followers around the globe. It’s like an actor’s career. He keeps acting in movies with small directors. A few of those movies are bound to be hits. People notice. He gets picked by a big banner and the crowd starts to pour in. It’s a logical progression. Sometimes of course, the actor gets a lucky break and stars with a big banner straight away. There’s no reason why that can’t happen with a team like Ireland. Instead of India and Sri Lanka playing each other so many times that people start questioning the relationship between the players; India could play Ireland once in a while. More exposure to better batsmen and bowlers will only help improve the quality of cricket in these countries. Isn't that the objective?

Bangladesh have been around for a long time. By now, they should have been real contenders for a World Cup held in the sub-continent. Instead they got knocked out in the group stages itself. One of the main reasons for this could be that they have stagnated by playing teams that are not better than them. Playing against Pakistan more often will help both countries. Afghanistan have already grown so much in such a short period. It only goes to show what the will to be amongst the best can do.

Everyone has suggested T20 is the perfect format for this expansion. But since Test cricket is the one that hones basic skills the most, shouldn't that be their first step into cricket? Purists keep saying if you're technically well equipped you can play T20 too and there aren't too many who debate this fact. It begs the question why aren't the not so good teams playing more Test cricket. No one would pay too much to watch them play. But should that be ICC's concern or should they look at the larger picture? If they become proficient in T20 and learn to slog, wouldn't it take longer to get them to play Test cricket?

It seems like the ICC does not have a proper plan in place. If they do, it's not being executed well or it just isn't working. The exclusion of the smaller teams from the 50 over World Cup next year speaks volumes of the inefficient handling of cricket in these nations. As an audience one does not mind that these teams are not part of the World Cup. But from the point of view of spreading cricket among different nations, the signs are worrying.

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