Greedy cricket poobahs crush minnows

NORMAN DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:32 PM ET

TORONTO - There is only one word to describe the International Cricket Council’s decision to give the associate countries the boot from the next World Cup four years from now — Disgraceful.

One would think the goal of any parent body is to popularize its sport in every nook and cranny of the world. We now find out the ICC is the rare exception. Wednesday’s decision to sever ties with Canada, Kenya, Ireland and the Netherlands sent shockwaves around the cricketing world.

We are now certain the ICC has no genuine interest in growing the game, All the ICC is interested in is milking the sacred cow — that’s television — for as much as it can. Chalk one up for avarice with a capital ‘A’.

In its press release on Wednesday, the ICC boasted India’s matches against England, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attracted millions of viewers. Translation? The ICC bean counters telling the world they will be able to substantially increase advertising rates in 2015. The ICC sold its broadcasting to ESPN for $1 billion and it is now in a position to up that price when the contract comes up for renewal in 2015. Incidentally, the World Cup on the sub-continent smashed all previous records.

The ICC had originally floated a rumour it wanted the World Cup to be leaner and meaner and that was the reason it was toying with the idea of cutting loose the minnows and chopping the 49-match schedule. Guess what? The tournament in 2015 will have 48 matches! So, all that talk about a facelift was a sham.

No wonder Ireland coach Phil Simmons, the former West Indies all-rounder, came out with both barrels blazing.

He called it despicable. “It is a dark day for cricket but a great day for greed and fear,” said Simmons. “It is hard to find words to describe this despicable decision made by some who want to keep things among themselves and some who fear us.”

Ireland is ranked 10th — a spot above Test-playing nation Zimbabwe who will be in. The Irish captured the hearts of every fan with that thrilling victory over England three weeks ago. Four years ago in the West Indies there was Ireland’s amazing win over Pakistan. Now they are out.

Simmons went on to say: “I’m afraid the next World Cup will be like the American World Series — you are crowned world champions but the world did not take part. Congratulations to India on winning the last real World Cup.

“Finally — congratulations to ICC for pulling the game we love back 10 years!”

Chandra Gocool, chief executive of Cricket Canada, was shaken by ICC’s verdict.

“This will obviously cause a dent in the euphoria among the players and our fans of having a team in the World Cup,’’ he said. “It is a huge worry for us as our players will be denied a chance of competing at the highest level and it will also be difficult for us to attract sponsors.’’

Cricket Canada only had two sponsors for the World Cup and Gocool wondered if they will stick with them. Cricket Canada receives the base payout of $70,000 from Sports Canada, but last year got $148,000 for World Cup preparations.

But with ICC driving a nail in the Cricket Canada’s international coffin that base payout may also dry out.

Gocool is also concerned Cricket Canada’s handout of $900,000 to sign players to a contract and preparations for international competitions will vanish.

“We have seven players on contract while the others get a lesser amount to look after transportation, meals, etc.’’

Although Canada lost four of its five matches there were some superb individual performances including the half century by 19-year-old Hiral Patel against Australia.

“He will be denied the opportunity to build on the experience he gained,” Gocool added. “He will be closer to the end of his career if he gets a chance to compete in the game’s marquee event again.’’

It is gratifying for the minnows to know that all of the top nations backed their inclusion with the exception of Australia.

“We believe 10 teams will be a really good format for the event,” said Cricket Australia’s CEO James Sutherland.

In an effort to deflect the criticism the ICC has offered the minnows a spot in the Twenty20 world tournament. This is the equivalent of offering athletes a chance to run in the Commonwealth Games instead of the Olympics.


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