Better Cricket World Cup still needs the smaller sides

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-16 22:33:09

Cricket is certainly not among the most ­popular sports in this part of the world so it is not a ­surprise that very few people know that the ­Cricket World Cup is going on now in Australia and New ­Zealand. The way how the tournament is being run suggests that this scenario is not likely to change in the near future.

The Cricket World Cup is more than halfway through as the group stage finished Sunday. ­Star batsmen have certainly found the tournament to their liking and even minnows like Bangladesh and Scotland achieved their first centuries. The West Indies' Chris Gayle scored the first-ever World Cup double century with a superb 215 against Zimbabwe while Sri Lanka's Kumal Sangakarra scored three consecutive ­centuries.

However, the tournament has dragged on too long. It started on February 14, meaning the group stage alone has taken an entire month. The knockout stages will take two more weeks with the final on March 29.

The top teams have all qualified with the ­notable exception of England, who endured one of their worst tournaments ever. While this might indicate a lack of challenge from the weaker "­Associate" countries, the problem is not with them but with the lack of games that they play.

That's why the ICC, cricket's governing body, is mistaken by suggesting it would cut the ­number of participating countries at the next World Cup from the current 14 to 10.

There are only a limited number of countries that play top-level cricket. Limiting the Associate nations in future World Cups may strengthen the tournament but reduce the sport's global appeal.

Some of these nations have also improved ­significantly. Ireland beat Test-playing teams Zimbabwe and the West Indies in this tournament. Afghanistan's first-ever participation was a fantastic achievement, given all the hardship and conflict the country has and still faces.

A great Cricket World Cup should not mean a choice of either more competitive games or more countries, but have both.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

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