February 26th, 2011
02:13 PM ET

Should minor nations play at the Cricket World Cup?

The Netherlands tested England before losing their opening match of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. (Getty Images)
The Netherlands tested England before losing their opening match of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. (Getty Images)

The International Cricket Council has decided that the 2015 World Cup will involve just 10 teams – four fewer than this year.

It’s a decision which has been endorsed by Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who believes the so-called "minnows" of the game just aren’t competitive enough and that one-sided matches compromise the tournament.

Cricket is a massive sport, but its popularity is restricted to certain pockets in the world. For many people outside these areas, the game is like a foreign language – very difficult to understand. So shouldn’t organizers be trying to encourage cricket's global growth rather than discourage it? It is called the "World" Cup, after all!

Yes, Kenya and Canada were crushed in their opening matches, but the Netherlands did themselves extremely proud by giving heavyweights England a real scare.

By having some of the lesser cricket nations involved, it’s simply more interesting because it’s not just about the usual suspects. It adds the element of the unknown, and keeps the Test nations on their toes!

Ponting says he’s not sure how much a team can learn from being on the receiving end of a thumping – but I don’t agree. I’m sure that Kenya took quite a lot from the 10-wicket loss to New Zealand, despite scoring only 69 runs, and will come out stronger and more experienced next time. At least they’ll get the chance to show what they can do. At the next tournament in Australia and New Zealand four years from now, they’ll likely be watching from afar.

As a trade-off, the ICC has said the World Twenty20 competition will expand to include more nations – but as any cricket fan knows, this form of the game is more for entertainment value than anything else. It’s short, sweet and spectacular – but not cricket in its purest form and it's not going to help produce top-level one-day or Test cricketers.

So the longer forms of the game will continue to be dominated by the same old teams, and the gap between rich and poor will grow larger. How can the Associate nations compete when they are not given a chance to play on the global stage against the best teams in the world? What motivation will children from these countries have to play cricket?

The minnows likely wouldn’t be minnows if they played the bigger teams on a more regular basis. I would argue that just playing at the World Cup isn’t enough – but for the ICC it seems to be too much!

Posted by ,
Filed under:  Cricket
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. J Penner

    I agree with your correspondent. The situation is akin to the Rugby World Cup. The usual powerhouses cane the minnows. The thing is though is that the matches between the minnows often are the most entertaining. I recall that the match between Japan and Canada at the 2007 Rugby World Cup as the best match of the whole tournament.

    Perhaps this would be an argument for the minnows to have their own tournament. OK, but then they wouldn't have the potential audience that they otherwise would have being part of the 'big show'.

    February 26, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  2. here

    I like the comment "It is called the "World" Cup, after all!" .. so what about baseball "World" series that's played in a single nation?

    February 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  3. Afnan Ahmed

    I fully agree. Ponting has got this one wrong!

    February 26, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  4. Guyana Fan

    Yes they should .Well maybe some preselection would be optimum ,
    but 3rd world learns fast and competitions trains better than books.Soccer or Rugby could be a guidance .Camerun ,Paraguay (S),Argentina,Japan (R) are interesting teams and were nothing 50 years ago.And believe me ,ist better for being mutually respected .

    February 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Reply
  5. A Raina

    Something on the lines of FIFA world cup would be much appreciated. All participating nations will play against each other more than once in a set of qualifying rounds and only the top, let's say, 10 teams enter officially into the world cup series and battle against each other..

    February 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Reply
  6. letsberational

    Difficult question – the more the "minnows" play the more determined they will be to better the next time. Also, there can be the odd upset as Netherlands almost did against England so I think the minnow should continue to play. But I like A Raina's suggestion. There should be a qualifying tournament as in soccer involving not just the minor teams but one where even the majors should play. As a result, the minnows would get enough of a chance to play in the "world cup" qualifiers and 2(or 3 or whatever is the right number) qualify to play in the world cup as well. As an aside, does Ponting's Australia belong among the majors or the minnows! Ouch.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:11 am | Reply
  7. Marty

    What does Ponting know? He is just afraid to lose against one of the 'minnows'.
    The 'minnow' Dutch came closer to beating England than Ponting's team during the Ashes!

    February 27, 2011 at 12:15 am | Reply
  8. italianboy

    i live on rome and noone play cricket in my city... who cares about a world cup? dudes, concentrate more on global spreaded sports like FOOTBALL (real one)

    February 27, 2011 at 1:03 am | Reply
  9. Harshal

    Associates have caused upsets in previous world cups and they do play well...its jst abt giving them a chance to play at the world stage......hw many games do the main teams play in an year???but still associates give the main teams a run for their money....

    hope one of the associates gives ponting and his men a run for their money.... 😉

    February 27, 2011 at 1:39 am | Reply
  10. dave

    Ponting is a sooky la la!! Thats from an Aussie who can't wait until he retires...

    February 27, 2011 at 1:58 am | Reply
  11. Mitra

    Cricket is a waste of time and the lesser it is said about it, the better.

    February 27, 2011 at 2:07 am | Reply
  12. vikram

    Its quite simple, let the ICC ensure that all Test playing nations play a series with the minnows for them to get used to experience.
    Rather than been bashed around in a World Cup tournament, which will not do them any good.

    Why doesn't the ICC ensure that, rather than looking at filling their coffers !!

    February 27, 2011 at 2:09 am | Reply
  13. Opspraak

    I wouldn't necessarily agree with your Kenya assumption. Nations like Netherlands, Kenya and Ireland have been playing in the ICC world cup a few times and they always take massive losses. In 2007 WC South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs struck 6 sixes in one over against a Netherlands bowler, nothing is a bigger lesson than that. Kenya always loose terribly and it's a shame to think that a poor nation that can barely feed themselves sends a cricket team halfway across the world to go get a beating. They don't seem to have learned anything.

    On the positive side, is a team like Bangladesh, who haven't really been playing in the World Cup for too long, but they are really improving every tournament and match they play and I wouldn't be surprised to see them cause a stir today. This is because they come from a cricket loving nation that urges their teams with passion and furor – I don't think you'll see this much fever for cricket over in Dublin.

    February 27, 2011 at 2:25 am | Reply
  14. Vineet

    Minnows actually shouldn't play. I'm with Ponting and the ICC here. They simply degrade the quality of the world cup. If you really enjoy watching teams getting bowled out of 69 runs, there's something wrong with you! Instead, the world cup should only have the top eight teams. Each team should play against the other seven teams once and the top four teams should then play the semifinals. That makes for better entertainment. To allow the minnows to play against top teams, have a qualifying round like in soccer! Simple as that. Don't mess with the actual tournament.

    February 27, 2011 at 3:41 am | Reply
  15. Ahmad

    Of course, all the cricket playing members of states should participate. There are no minnnows or giants in the world of games – at least not permannently. We have seen down fall of giants (like West Indies) and rise of minnows (Sri Lanka – ex – no offense to them, they have risen high).
    So may be Netherland or Canada may also flourish in future. Their defeats or small successes will be a boost for the game back home
    Overall – 2 imp points.

    1- 'Minnows' give a "Net practice" chance for giants
    2- It is good for cricket lovers to get quantity as well quality.

    February 27, 2011 at 3:45 am | Reply
  16. Ahmad

    PS. David was a 'Minnow" who defeated Goliath – wasn't it?

    February 27, 2011 at 3:48 am | Reply
  17. Ben Chege

    To what end? The decision is not in the benefit of sport but in the benefit of the event (world cup). yet the event in itself should be molded to benefit the sport in the long run.
    How does this improve the quality of Cricket in 'minnow' countries?

    February 27, 2011 at 4:16 am | Reply
  18. Digby Green

    Years ago Sri Lanka were minnows.
    Bangladesh are minnows but they beat New Zealand 5 times.

    New Zealand are not minnows, but they may soon deserve to be.

    February 27, 2011 at 4:57 am | Reply
  19. Cap. Haddock

    I third A.Raina's comment. Excluding the teams would only degrade cricket further.

    February 27, 2011 at 5:29 am | Reply
  20. Hiren

    They should be.. platform to compete and strive for future success with gained experience..

    February 27, 2011 at 6:21 am | Reply


    February 27, 2011 at 6:25 am | Reply
  22. sunil

    ..It may better to involve the Minor Teams in other Triangular series, but not in World Cup. it take the sheen away of playng the most prestigious tournament. Even the viewers are disinterested and losing the focus. it also helps other teams to be fully fit for all the other important matches. to help the Minor nations there can be a prequalifying tournaments among them and qualify the winner to participate in World cup.

    February 27, 2011 at 6:37 am | Reply
  23. vishnu

    first of all , why call this the world cup with just 10 out 193 odd nations on this planet are participating.

    if the sport has to grow, minnows need to play and play a lot. Hopefully once china joins the party things should be different.

    February 27, 2011 at 6:55 am | Reply
  24. Ali

    @Marty: very well said....lol

    February 27, 2011 at 7:20 am | Reply
  25. Cricketfan

    @Italianboy- Cricket is a world sport, just because Italy is not in it, it does not make it not a world sport. I love football, no doubt in that, but mate if you see it, even football is not actually a world game, there are more than seventy to eighty countries who don't play football 🙁 yeah sad but true...Wish more European teams got into cricket and more asian and middle eastern teams (Just a small number of middle eastern teams play football) took up Football. How awesome would these two sports be then... China, Afghanistan, USA, Argentina and Even France( yeah u heard it right) teams are now getting into cricket, so it would be bigger then, in probably five- ten years time...Cricket and Football rule...
    As for the minnows questions, they should be allowed to play, cos the more they play the more stronger they are gonna get. India was just a bit better than a minnow, in the 80's and they won the world cup. Sri lanka was a minnow all those years back, now they are a giant, Bangladesh is now coming out of the minnow tag. Zimbabwe almost a decade back were coming really good, but due to certain bad things, they stopped playing and now they are back to square one...Netherlands, Ireland seem better than before...So minnows have to be allowed for cricket to spread

    February 27, 2011 at 8:01 am | Reply
  26. Nick

    I think it is important for the minmows to have an opportunity to perform at the highest level. I agree with J Penner's comment, the Rugby World Cup is a good example. Really there are a handful of countries who are usually capable of performing at the very top level (NZ, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy), then others who will be a bit hit and miss. I think the RWC works well because of the format – 4 pools of five teams, with the better teams spread across each pool. Yes it means there are some uneven match ups, but it also gives the minnows a chance to play each other on the world stage, and have the opportunity for a famous victory if they develop well. Such a format would probably work quite well for the ICC World Cup, as opposed to the current format where the minnows seem more like a tag-on than an important part of the tournament.

    I'd suggest it needs to be more than just the World Cup – given the apparent lack of progress in the past few decades, the ICC should look what programs it can instigate to help improve the performance of the minnow nations. I do like the suggestions above of encouraging series between the minnow nations and the permanent members (as suggested by Vikram), and perhaps expose them to some domestic teams who might be more at their level.

    As for those suggesting we should forget about cricket and all just concentrate on football, what a boring world it would be if there was only one competitive sport.

    February 27, 2011 at 8:53 am | Reply
  27. Andrew White

    I think Cricket should broaden their appeal by allowing so called ' minnows' to play in the world cup. Cricket's world cup is not meant only the top teams like India or Australia.

    February 27, 2011 at 9:08 am | Reply
  28. fric

    i really like team of kenya,netherland,canada.Unless these teams play,they wont improve.Teams of kenya,zimb. have huge problems.The players have second jobs that enables them to play cricket.So they must be allowed to play.Just few years back sri lanka,bangladesh were minnows.Now they are not.
    Let countries like china,USA enter into cricket.It will be bigger event than olympics....

    February 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  29. Delron Van-Delbert

    They should reduce the numbers further and call it the six nations.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  30. Cricket Minor Sport NL

    Cricket is such a minor sport in the Netherlands with only around 5000 players...and still they almost beat Engeland. If the sport had more followers I am sure they could be even more competitive with the top nations.

    February 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  31. Joe S

    So your correspondent knows more about the world cup than a professional criketer who is captain of one of the best teams in the world. Uh -OK, then.
    @here: Baseball world series is called such after the name of the newspaper that sponsored the initial competition.

    February 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  32. Sir William

    'here' should know that the baseball Championship 'The World Series' is named after a newspaper, not the Earth!! And anyway what has that to do with the subject being discussed?

    February 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  33. At

    Is the World Series "newspaper" sold everywhere in the world or just in the USA?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  34. Usman Ahmed

    Ponting has not got it wrong. The Cricket World cup is supposed to be a competitive event with best teams participation. By allowing minnows to thrashed around in empty stadiums, the world cup loses its thrill and colour. Moreover ICC is doing quite enough to promote cricket in associate cricket nations.

    March 1, 2011 at 9:24 am | Reply
  35. Ozzi

    In this fast and competitive world we don't wanna see minor teams playing so dull & one sided matches...On the other hand regarding without playing in the world cup how can minor teams improve for that there respective boards need to invest in grass roots level rather bringing other origin players and giving nationalities....

    March 2, 2011 at 8:06 am | Reply
  36. David, Dublin

    I think IRELAND have just answered your question with a win over ENGLAND !!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  37. William fitzell

    Ireland are a minnow yet they beat England and at the last wc they beat pakistan and they still improve

    March 3, 2011 at 12:07 am | Reply
  38. Shane Lang

    Ireland, a so-called minnow, beat England the ur-home-of-cricket! Minnows are definitely part of the future of cricket... and especially the World Cup. Now if only test matches would make a come back, then we could all be happy.

    March 3, 2011 at 1:57 am | Reply
  39. JamesC1991,Ireland

    Holland,Kenya and Canada should be removed
    Ireland now are no longer minnows,they've beaten 3 test sides in the last 4 years at the world cup and hopefully can cause more shocks

    March 3, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  40. Stephen

    Silly question...if the ICC want this sport to grow what are they limiting their market? Minnows are always the fav of the fans and bring passion and excitement! Surely it is fair to say Italy brings so much the the 6 Nations... we would be worse off without them...and yet a few years ago they were the minnows.

    Minnows grow up if they are allowed to.

    March 4, 2011 at 11:25 am | Reply
  41. Deogratias Kohl

    i think that is a very wrong assumption. These small teams need that chance to compete against the very best in the game especially if they have had to go through qualification rounds. Afterall its the world cup. why then should it be called so if the minors dont get to participate? Do they come from different worlds that they will need to be sent back to their worlds to learn well the art of the game? NO ! I believe that even if the so called minor teams loose by very large margins to the "major Teams", it will teach the successors of these teams to work even harder so us to be compared well in the world stage. eventually this will pay off and the game will be even bigger and better...

    March 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  42. Kiwi100

    In light of Ireland's win over England careful thought needs to be put into the whole thing before the next format is decided upon. This win by Ireland is not their first upset victory at a World Cup either.

    March 5, 2011 at 4:00 am | Reply
  43. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    With more opportunities minor cricket playing nations will mature. The next World Cup could be raised to 16 teams instead of the present 14. Dividing the 16 teams into four pools and playing a league-cum-knockout competition could be fair and encouraging to many.Top two teams from each pool advance to the next stage and from then on QFs, SFs and finals could be conducted like any other knockout tournament. All teams plays three games at the league stage in their respective pool. Maximum matches six in all for the two finalists. In doing so one protects and promotes the so called minnows, adds two more teams to the current list of fourteen, provides at least three games to the lesser known teams instead of the current six and then you have a truly decent format of a World Cup event.

    March 8, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  44. manu

    I always wanted to express my opinion on this matter: Why Not ICC come with a second World Cup Trophy Match for the "Minnows"? In that way, it will also encourage new teams!

    March 20, 2011 at 7:01 am | Reply
  45. Mvoi

    Candy, by all means. What the ICC has done will prove backward and costly in the fullness of time.
    The so-called 'minnows';Kenya, Canada, Zimbabwe and Ireland did not perform well-that I must admit. As a Kenyan and a relatively new cricket fan, I feel terrible. Can football fans imagine a time when FIFA decides to exclude the poor performing teams and, say, have a 24-team tournament? NEVER!
    The game of cricket has been developing, albeit slowly in some countries like my own, but does this move by the ICC really help matters at all?
    A flashback to 2003 will be necessary to bolster my point. Kenya co-hosted the event along with South Africa. We played SA(lost), Canada(won), Sri Lanka(won), Bangladesh(won), West Indies(lost). By then we were in the Super Six Stage where we beat Zimbabwe by seven wickets to qualify for the Semis (despite having lost to India and Australia). We lost the Semifinal by only 91 runs to cricket powerhouses India, ending our fantastic adventure.
    This is possible and is bound to happen more often if the non-test playing nations are given a chance to come up regularly against the big boys of the game. Even if the 2003 scenario doesn't happen again, who doesn't love the occassional 'upset' that they will inevibly spring?

    March 22, 2011 at 4:14 am | Reply
  46. Nunajer Bidnis

    Well certainly Pakistan should play. Currently thousands of Indians are praying that their team wins-out over their political and religious rivals.


    The only thing is, God don't play that.

    If thousands were to pray that no one would get hurt during the match, that no political or religious incidents would break-out, that everyone would have a good healthy fun time, that each team were to face the best the other team has to offer...and let the best effort win.

    Well, then, then, God might smile upon your humanitarian spirit and, if the other teams prayers were selfishly praying for victiory...then God might answer those humanitarian prayers with a win.

    However, this is not all-together likely as, I believe that God enjoys a good cricket match...and therefore keeps his fingers out of that pie.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:08 am | Reply
  47. Madhur Patel

    Yep i agree, Ponting has got this one wrong this time

    Cricket Wrold Cup 2015

    August 27, 2014 at 8:36 am | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.