Cricket should be more inclusive

The Twenty20 World Cup could easily have included at least six countries from the qualifiers.

Paul Stirling of Ireland bats during the ICC World Twenty20 qualifier final against Afghanistan in Dubai. (Getty …


Last month, 16 Associate and Affiliate member nations of the International Cricket Council (ICC), competed against each other for the right to qualify for the 2012 Twenty20 World Cup to be hosted by Sri Lanka in September-October.

The 16 countries were Afghanistan, Netherlands, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Denmark, Namibia, Ireland, Scotland, Kenya, Italy, United States of America, Uganda and Oman with Afghanistan and Ireland qualifying for the Twenty20 World Cup.

The qualification process started in early 2012 with 81 member countries who had to gain promotion from their respective regional Division 3 to Division 1 before eventually booking their place in the World Twenty20 qualifier which was held in UAE. Breaking it down further, as Afghanistan, Ireland, Canada, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland automatically qualified for the main qualifier, there was place only for 10 qualifiers from the regional Twenty20 tournaments that were played across Africa, Asia, Americas, East Asia and Pacific; and Europe.

This is in stark contrast to the soccer World Cup, which also has a long-drawn qualification process, but is more inclusive in that it gives ample opportunities to countries in their bid to qualify for the main tournament. And, there are regional tournaments in between the World Cups as well, that give the smaller countries the platform and opporunity to test themselves against the regional powers. While there certainly are lop-sided matches in these events, at least fans are able to support their national teams regularly; while players, coaches and the national federations have the incentive to continually strive for excellence.
 
Cricket, at the moment, is by no means even close enough to being a global sport; and while it could be argued that 81 countries participated in the Twenty20 World Cup qualifying rounds, that number doesn't exactly paint an accurate picture because most of them possibly don't have adequate infrastructure or equipment in place to support the growth of the sport. The credit for most of these countries' limited progress until now largely rests with a few individuals than either the ICC or the regional cricket boards.

There also is a question mark over the willingness of full members to help out the Associate and Affiliate nations in their region; and while the ICC is obviously doing its bit to an extent, there's a crying need for a lot more to be done.

Nicolaas Scholtz of Namibia in action against Afghanistan. (Getty Images)The Twenty20 World Cup could easily have included at least six countries from the qualifiers, especially taking into consideration that Afghanistan and Ireland were always likely to be the two member nations to go through. Increasing the number of participating countries would only have extended the tournament by a few more days, but it would have been worth it taking the bigger picture into account of popularising the game in places where the sport is struggling to create a place for itself. One can't help but feel that a trick
has been missed yet again, especially taking into consideration the long duration of a tournament like the Indian Premier League.

At the very least, the ICC could have explored the possiblity of fielding an Associates XI as well as an Affiliates XI (from countries excluding Afghanistan and Ireland) in the 2012 Twenty20 World Cup to give an opportunity to the best of the rest to play on the global stage in front of packed stadiums and a worldwide television audience.

And, it doesn't paint a bright future for the future of Associates and Affiliates, that even Afghanistan and Ireland get exposed to the 'big boys' only in the World Cups. What's being done to give them and a few others the opportunity to frequently test their skills and improve their abilities by pitting themselves against the full members? Why aren't regional tournaments, that include full and Associates as well as Affiliates, part of the international cricket calendar?

Sport should never be made exclusive for a select few; one can only hope the ICC and its regional boards make cricket more inclusive sooner rather than later.


Also See:
Stirling hits 17-ball fifty as Ireland win T20 final
Afghanistan proud of qualifying for T20 World Cup: Mohammad Nabi
Ireland eye top table after reaching T20 World Cup
Stars of the 2012 Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier
Associates deserve World Cup lifeline

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

As much as Pietersen's availability is a boost, the loss of a potent death bowler might sting Delhi badly. More »

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

IPL 7, GAME 11—Vinay's over, Lynn's catch turns last-over finish in KKR's favour. More »

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Mumbai have explosive hitters down the order in the form of Corey Anderson and Kieron Pollard, but the lack of contributions from them has compounded their… More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan, who has been replaced by the court as board president, was named the BCCI's representative to the ICC last September. However, that position… More »

Atapattu tipped to coach Sri Lanka in England

Atapattu tipped to coach Sri Lanka in England

Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya issued the strongest indication yet that Marvan Atapattu would be appointed coach for the tour of Ireland… More »

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

England's new assistant coach Paul Farbrace admitted that it was impossible turn down the job even though he will have mixed feelings when he faces… More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »