Chennai: Every time any of the so-called minnows perform above themselves they strike a mighty blow for the expansion of cricket’s showpiece event into a global competition. The problem is cricket has been put on an elitist path in most recent times with the cash-rich BCCI showing the way in how to dominate the ICC. Spurred by such wicked thoughts of money, the cricket World Cup of 2019 is going to be restricted to 10 nations – the top eight Test nations plus two qualifiers.
On Thursday at Nelson in New Zealand, it was UAE’s turn to put up an impressive show, which reveals that the gospel of the game is spreading. Playing their first Cup game in almost 20 years, the Emiratis strung together a total that stretched Zimbabwe, which got Test status as far back as 1992. It took level headed batting performance by a couple of left handers of the late middle order to get Zimbabwe over the line.
Not only did the Emiratis gather their highest score but they also defended the target with great enthusiasm, throwing themselves in the field at every hit and making the task as difficult as possible for the Zimbabweans. Given their somewhat shabby bowling performance against South Africa in the first game, Zimbabwe may have expected to be chasing a total of reasonable proportions. Even so, the asking rate had climbed to nearly 120 in the last 108 balls when Sean Williams and Craig Ervine rattled up 83 in just over 10 overs to take them towards victory and the former stayed on to see the end game through.
With 14 teams in the fray, the current World Cup may seem somewhat elongated at 44 days but that is because only one game has been slotted on weekdays while weekends are packed with the best teams meeting. The World Cups have tended to vary over time, from a modest eight teams to double that at 16 and changed formats in almost every modern competition. There is none of the polished discipline of the football World Cups to cricket. Super Six, Super Eight, semi-finals after a full round robin, quarter-finals – just about every format has been tried out.
The logic of 10 teams only in 2019 in UK is premised on presenting a World Cup of premium cricket, slotting 48 games over 47 days with a full round-robin and knockout semi finals. That is only three days less than the current competition, but the event will not be a fuller global event featuring 14 or 16 teams. This has to do with marketing and making money with premium games than giving the sport a global tag. But then, don’t we know that cricket shed its principles long ago to make money the presiding deity?...