Thursday, March 08, 2007

Minnows in the cricket world cup

A lot has been said about the so-called minnows participating in the world cup. Eight of them. Here’s my take on them participating in the World Cup and why I feel they should. A lot of people, including the former India captain Bishen Singh Bedi (the guy who declared the side’s innings because he was scared that he might get injured), have said that it lowers the standards down. Well, if they weren’t to play the big boys of international cricket, how would they ever learn? I don’t think any cricket board would organize official or unofficial tours with the full-strength national teams against teams like Bermuda or Canada.

It’s up to the ICC to ensure that they play some international cricket, and why not the world cup? It would help the bigger teams to acclimatize, and give the minnows some exposure to the rigours of international cricket. The recent defeat of the Kiwis in the hands of the Bangladeshis proves that there are some very capable teams who can beat the big boys on their day.

Bedi also says that ‘India is not allowed to play in the football world cup, so why allow these minnows to play in the cricket world cup’? Well, the informed cricketer probably missed out on one small fact that football is being played in nearly 150 countries. They cannot have a world cup that has all of them playing, and hence, have a qualifying system whereby 32 teams qualify and participate. But there are probably just about 25 countries playing cricket, and if cricket is to become a mass sport, the smaller teams should play the big guys.

I am not for one moment suggesting that all that the ICC is doing is right. Getting the smaller teams to play only the world cup and then not helping them to play any further is criminal. The world cup is just the beginning. After the WC, the ICC should ensure that the small teams get at least 2 home and away tours with a major test playing nation. Also, there should be regular tours of the A-teams of the test playing nations to these smaller countries. There needs to be a serious step taken to ensure that these smaller countries get the right infrastructure that enables them to raise their standards.

A beginning needs to be made somewhere. If that means the World Cup, so be it. I so wonder where do these cricket pundits go when it comes to developing sport in these smaller countries? Why don’t they go ahead and help in developing the sport in these nations? They talk big of giving back to the game what the game has given them, but all they mean by it is that they’ll mane asinine comments on the game and want to get paid big bucks for the same. Sandeep Patil showed the way, when he took up the job of coaching Kenya. As far as I remember, those minnows made it to the Semi-finals of the previous world cup. But does Mr. Bedi remember?

It’s so easy to sit on the other side of the fence and criticize the happenings, but how many of the former cricketers would want to get their hands dirty and develop a team? They’d want to get tons of money to criticize the ICC and everything else, but when it comes to real work they back out. And most of the comments that these former cricketers make only proves that there is a big difference between playing international cricket and in actually understanding it. God save the fan, who is fed all this daily.

No comments: