From World Cup to Closed Shop

Submitted by Rick Eyre on October 15 2010, 11:10 am

Kenya's upset of the West Indies. Ireland's giant-killing of Pakistan. Moments in the sun for Canada, Bermuda, the Netherlands and others. Sri Lanka's rise from minnows to champions. Even Afghanistan's near-miss at joining the club. All these things could be consigned to the trashcan of history with the ICC approving a recommendation to downsize the Cricket World Cup.

On Wednesday October 13 the ICC Board announced its approval of a number of suggestions put forward by a meeting of its Chief Executives Committee (the CEOs of its full member entities) for the structuring of international cricket in the coming years. While a top 4 Test championship and a 16-nation World Twenty20 are interesting initiatives worthy of discussion, the one that has aroused most controversy was the decision to reduce the size of the World Cup from fourteen teams to just ten from 2015.

I consider this downsizing of the 50-over World Cup to be an astonishingly poor decision, one which will push world cricket in either one of two directions - either (a) to marginalise the growth of the sport outside of the existing ten "full member" entities (the ten Test players, including Zimbabwe), or (b) to marginalise the 50-over world championship itself and promote the World Twenty20 to become, within a decade or so, cricket's official world cup.

The first option would undermine the aspirations of the ICC to turn cricket into a mainstream worldwide team sport. The second option would not just cannibalise one-day cricket as we know it, but would atrophy multi-day cricket (including Test, domestic four-day competitions, district two-day competitions) at all levels, as the economic and developmental centre of gravity for the sport became its twenty-over per-side, three-and-a-bit hour version.