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Sight Screen

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The more the merrier? Not!

Check this story out -- the ICC Trophy, we are told, will be played for across 25 venues in Ireland. Darn, I didn't even know there were 25 cricket-worthy venues in Ireland, but never mind that -- what made me sit up was the tangential mention that the top five teams will go on to the West Indies to participate in the upcoming World Cup.
Right, so how many of you guys followed the 2003 World Cup? Good -- and out of that, how many of you followed, with even a pretense of interest, the following games: Zimbabwe versus Namibia? Bangladesh versus Canada?... oh never mind, you get the idea?
Did we really need -- in what is supposedly the premier competition in international cricket -- the spectacle of South Africa thumping Kenya and Bangladesh by 10 wickets each? Sri Lanka wallopping Bangladesh by an identical margin? India winning over Namibia by the small margin of 181 runs? And so on?
I was doing commentary for Rediff during the Cup -- and believe me, it took superhuman effort not to fall asleep during some of those games. Which raises the question -- why?
What is the point in increasing the number of teams, extending the duration of the tournament, and doing your damndest to turn people off cricket for life?
The ICC argument is, by bringing the lesser known nations onto the grand stage, they are doing their bit to propagate the game in those countries. Oh really? So now cricket in Namibia is smoking? Netherlands rocks? Bloody hell -- Bangladesh has enjoyed both one day and Test status for some years now and the upshot has been a growing chorus of calls for its expulsion; how then do you expect a Namibia to improve simply by getting to play the big boys once in four years?
Get the lesser nations to play in the domestic leagues of the Test nations; start developmental programs in those countries; get top flight coaches from the big nations to do tours of duty of those countries... in short, put in place a systematic, 24x7x365 program to improve cricket in the smaller nations, and no one will complain.
But why dilute interest in the Cup by increasing the number of participating teams each time? Why reduce the one global contest we have to a farce? Damned if I know.

4 Comments:

  • I dont know if this is such a bad idea per se. I think the trouble is that the top teams play the weak teams.

    Its the format which is to blame. And on that count, blame the ICC. I followed the 1992 WC (in which each time played the other), the 1996 world cup, where there were quarter finals, semis and finals, and the 1999 and 2003 WC, where there has been this super six format with points carried forward and what not.

    I dont really understand how each of these four editions has differed in rules,and can still claim to be the premier cricketing tournament. In every other sport I can think of, all the premier championships have a fixed, firm format. Thats what makes it possible to give credence to the idea of a champion team/player.

    Of course, there are changes in the format to accomodate for changes in the game/commercial interests, but in cricket, there has been no continuity whatsoever.

    To come back to the point of weak teams,if the WC has to have 12 teams or 16, then it would make more sense to group all weak/new sides into a group, and have them all play each other, and let the top 1 or 2 progress to the next stage, where they can play against the more established sides.Thus, in this case, the better weak sides(like Kenya and Zimbabwe) would probably progress to play against Aus, SA, Ind, Pak, while the rest of them would have gained from the exposure of playing in the premier tournament, and yet not been subjected to thrashings in one-sided contests.

    The reason why I am saying this is because some sort of international stage recognition is needed, for the game to gain in popularity, and playing in the WC achieves that.

    By Blogger Arjun Swarup, at 11:27  

  • The problem with that format is that you are now promoting a weaker team to the next round at the expense of a better team.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:03  

  • Jaggu Bhai,

    Thank you brother..thank you...for opening a Pandora's box...a can of worms...a bag full of ****...thank you brother....

    Hope all's swell in 033.

    Sriraj

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:16  

  • How is this format promoting weaker team at the expense of stronger team ? Yes, it makes for boring cricket. But I dont see other logic ?

    And now that Dalmiya is not influencing the ICC, why do we still have such drama ongoing ? Certainly Netherlands and Namibia are not going to raise hell if Ehsan Mani or Speed or whosoever stopped this pretension ?

    But I do see some positive sign, the game does get more popularity in that country. Certainly it wont start 'rocking' with just one WC participation. But still, the format is not good enough, and I dont agree with it fully.

    By Blogger worma, at 15:49  

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