The so-called "minnows" have performed admirably at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 © Getty Images
The so-called “minnows” have performed admirably at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 © Getty Images

The International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) proposal to tweak the number of Associate participants has been greeted with public outcry. The cricket fraternity has collectively questioned the intrinsic merit of ICC’s latest self-serving gimmick. Ankur Dhawan rubbishes the proposal and believes that Dave Richardson deserves to be pilloried.

ICC likes to maintain its exclusivity at all cost. ICC Cricket World Cup, too, could become an exclusive preserve like ICC, a private club barricaded for outsiders, in this case the Associate nations. ICC is quick to rationalise its motives by unabashedly, hiding behind the façade of the need for competitiveness in its marquee product. If those were truly Dave Richardson and co.’s noble concerns, why was the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 format designed to accommodate all Test nations in the quarter-finals? If eradicating meaningless games was the sole objective of the ICC then why wasn’t the format designed in a manner that would test Test-playing nations against each other? ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: POINTS TABLE

Instead a safety net was created to ensure the smooth progress of the top eight teams to the knockouts, which basically meant that they can afford to repeatedly slip up against each other sans ramifications. Of course, it is another matter that Ireland upset the apple cart by toppling West Indies, and Afghanistan may do an encore against England, who have been depressingly pathetic for the oldest Test playing nation. Kapil Dev had derisively and quite appropriately stated, “I thank the British for giving us a language that I can’t speak very well and the game of cricket that they can’t play very well.” Hitherto, the results during ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 have emphatically highlighted the fallacy of the theory that an “only Test nation World Cup” will prove to be more competitive. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: SCHEDULE & MATCH DETAILS

The fact is majority of cricket matches are indeed one-sided. That is the name of the game; its glorious uncertainties and its ebb and flow makes the sport worth watching. Besides, didn’t India just complete a three month tour of Australia with zilch on the wins column? Before that they were routed by an equally mediocre English team that had been annihilated by an Australian side which had apparently hit the nadir after losing the Ashes in England, before returning win-less from India, who were whitewashed in Australia and England previously.

These are the “Big Three” of world cricket, entirely dependent on suitable conditions to beat the opposition more often than not. They play each other day in and day out yet often take an eternity to adapt. On the other end of the spectrum you have the Associates playing amongst each other through the four-year One-Day International (ODI) cycle from World Cup to World Cup, without an opportunity to rub shoulders with the big guns because it is not considered financially rewarding. These Associates are directly thrown in the deep end at World Cups.

Yet, Ireland have managed at least one ‘upset’ in all their World Cup campaigns. Afghanistan beat Bangladesh during Asia Cup, and by the looks of it boast of a better fast bowling troika than India, who are the defending World Champions. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Complete Coverage

The short-sightedness and tactlessness with which ICC has chalked World Cricket’s future is abominable. Ireland are yet to attain Test status, and it is simply beyond the pale that they risk losing an entire generation of talented cricketers through seclusion. Losing home-grown players to England is a stumbling block that continues to nag Associates such as Ireland, which is a corollary of being neglected from the big stage far too long.

If the proposal passed by Richardson and co. is implemented, it will allow at best two Associates to participate in cricket’s biggest jamboree henceforth. ICC prefers to vicariously fill their coffers while the rest of the cricket world languishes in isolation. Beside, dilapidation of a generation of cricketers who could otherwise evolve into an inspiration for kids in their respective countries, the loss of incentive for these nations cannot be emphasised vehemently enough. Why would a kid in Afghanistan or Nepal want to pick a cricket bat or ball in light of such grave injustice? Richardson’s draconian decision has already failed in the court of public opinion but it is also apparent that the cricket fraternity’s sincere pleas are falling on deaf ears.

(Ankur Dhawan is a reporter with CricketCountry. Heavily influenced by dystopian novels, he naturally has about 59 conspiracy theories for every moment in the game of cricket. On finding a direct link between his head and the tip of his fingers, he also writes about it)