Ricky Ponting in his recent interview said that minnows have no place in the world cup. I feel that that was pretty harsh statement and I feel sorry for the associate nations. The associate nations hardly play any major games and their only opportunity to showcase their talent is the world cup. ICC (International Cricket Council) is to be blamed for this situation. The associate nations have not always been a push over. They have given us some amazing games in the past and have helped throw the tournament wide open.
Who can forget the brilliant Kenya defeating WI in the 1996 world cup, Bangladesh defeating Pak in 1999, Kenya making the semis in 2003 and also Ireland defeating Pak in 2007 world cup? So it’s not as though these teams are here to just make up numbers, they have played some great cricket in the past. Yes I agree that these teams also are part of some pretty one sided affairs, so what? There are 19/20 years olds of these nations, whose dream is to play for their country and represent them at the world stage. World cup is their chance; no one knows when these teams would graduate from being an associate nation. The frustrating part is that ICC doesn’t seem to care about the same.
Kenya a very competitive team few years back has gone south rapidly. Lack of matches at the major level can be a reason. Kenya went back to wilderness after their stunning world cup exploit. They should have at least been a full member ODI side playing regularly against top International teams. The ICC faltered big time there. The sub-continent power helped Bangladesh to graduate to a full member very soon, even though they were not ready for such a giant leap at that time. The Associate nations qualify for the world cup and then no one knows what they play and what sort of practice they have ahead of such major tournament. You cannot expect a team which plays a test side once in 4 years to suddenly transform into world beaters.
The Dutch proved yesterday that these teams need to be given a chance. Netherlands team almost pulled off an upset against the English yesterday. The Canadian team also had their moment in the warm up games. This shows that these teams might lose most of the times but they have it in them to perform at this level. The enthusiasm and the passion with which these teams play in spite of being thrashed is a fantastic example. The ICC needs to make sure these teams are prepared to participate at this level in a major event. The drastic leap in standard between Associate level and International level can be very difficult for the teams to bridge.
The ICC should at least let the qualified teams to participate in domestic leagues of full member nations to get a glimpse of competitive cricket. The ICC can sure make some sort of arrangement with the respective boards. I don’t think we should just dismiss these teams but need to find a way to get these teams to be more prepared and ready for such an event. If we ignore these teams completely then the world will never know the Tikolo’s, the Ryan ten Doeschate’s of the world. These talents need to be showcased and what better than a world cup for them to do that? Every young player has a dream of playing in the world cup and we should not take away that dream in haste.