Ponting backs ICC on keeping minnows out of next World Cup

Monday, February 21, 2011

AHMEDABAD - Australian captain Ricky Ponting has supported the International Cricket Council’s decision to leave minnows out of the 2015 World Cup.

The ICC said unlike the current 14-nation format, the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will feature just the 10 full member nations. Canada, Kenya, the Netherlands, Ireland and Zimbabwe are non-Test playing nations participating in the ongoing tournament.

“I’ve always been a bit unsure if World Cups and Champions Trophies are the right place to do (include associate nations),” Ponting said.

“The major reason for that is I’m not sure how much a lot of the teams actually learn when they are getting hammered like they tend to do in a lot of those contests,” he said.

“It would probably be a better tournament if there were fewer teams, but we understand the responsibility for the game to continue to grow across the world as well.”

“We all want to see the game develop and blossom in different countries around the world,” he said.

The smaller nations,however, has so far done little in the World Cup to justify their position in cricket’s biggest tournament.

The 2011 tournament opened with New Zealand and Sri Lanka thumping minnows Kenya and Canada Sunday. New Zealand raced to a 10-wicket win over Kenya after bowling the east Africans out for 69 in Chennai while home side Sri Lanka crushed Canada by 210 runs in Hambantota.

But their strength cannot be underestimated.

In the past World Cups, minnows have thrown punches beyond their weight. Kenya stunned West Indies in 1996 and reached the second stage in 2003 where they upset Sri Lanka. Ireland beat former world champions Pakistan and advanced to the Super Eights in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.

The smaller nations have been vocal in criticising the ICC’s decision.

“I think it is ridiculous decision. I hate to think this could be the last World Cup Netherlands may ever play,” said veteran Netherlands batsman Bas Zuiderent.

The ICC, however, said it has increased the number of teams in the World Twenty20 from 12 to 16 and it is a better platform for helping associate nations improve their playing standards.

“We have felt in the past few years that Twenty20 is the best format to develop the game world-wide and it provides a better environment for competition. The 50-over format is more skill-based and suitable for the top team,” ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.

Others players like Australian Shaun Tait, England’s Graeme Swann, and South African AB de Villiers have backed the right of the smaller nations to continue playing in the World Cup. “Why would you want to take the world out of the World Cup?” Swann asked.

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