The Case Against Minnows in the One Day World Cup

by Devanshu Mehta

Number ten

Ryan Ten Doeschate of The Netherlands (by imogenhardy via Flickr)

Haroon Lorgat, the Chief Executive of the ICC, on keeping the Associate member teams out of the next world cup:

“The 50-over format is more skill-based and suitable for the top teams.”

His argument is that Twenty20 is less skill-based, and so a better format for the less skill-based teams.

This is precisely the argument used to keep Sri Lanka out of Test cricket thirty years ago. I can imagine someone saying then: “Test cricket is a more skill-based format.”

Twenty20 is a better ambassador for the game. It’s a shorter format, faster paced, easier for the casual viewer and an easier sell to a world that is used to watching a game after work and having a result by dinner.

If a Twenty20 match is as one-sided as the Sri Lanka v. Canada game last week, at least it’s over much sooner. And there’s a better chance that a single inspired batting performance can even the scales. Ryan Ten Doeschate is an exciting player when chasing 200 in 20 overs, but is a tragic figure when surrounded by the rest of the Netherlands team for 50.

Lorgat’s point is trite, elitist and careless. Skill has nothing to do with it.

If, after all this, the only time Canada get to play a top team is every four years at a Twenty20 World Cup, then nothing has changed. A refocus to Twenty20 as the ambassador is acceptable only if it’s coupled with a clear path for promising teams like Afghanistan and Ireland to graduate to the big leagues.

Ordered by Lorgat’s mythical skill levels, we currently have six top teams, two close seconds (NZ, WI), two also rans (Zimbabwe, Bangladesh) and then a vast gulf before we get to the rest of the associates.

If the one-day World Cup pool is to be reduced, the single-minded focus of the ICC (besides making money for the BCCI) should be on closing that gulf.