Smith blasts ICC cull of Associates
Derek Dechabert *Royal Gazette)
Clay Smith has called the International Cricket Council's (ICC) decision to reduce the next two cricket World Cups to ten teams as contradictory to their philosophy of promoting the game worldwide.
The decision, which was confirmed on Monday by the ICC, will see the 2015 and 2019 tournaments shortened from the previous two tournaments that included four Associate teams, making the total of sides competing 14.
The likes of Ireland, Netherlands, Kenya and Canada, who were all knocked out in the group stages of this year's tournament, will now have to wait until 2019 to compete again.
Smith, who helped Bermuda reach their first and only World Cup in the West Indies in 2007, called the decision a 'joke' and questioned where the Council's loyalty really lies.
'I think this decision is a joke and very contradictory to what they the ICC has been trying to do in the past,' said Smith. 'The ICC has invested so much money into the Associate members to try to improve their standards, but it seems like some of the big boys of cricket fear being embarrassed by the minnows.
'Teams like Ireland and Netherlands showed the gap is closing as Ireland beat England and both Ireland and Netherlands had some very competitive games.
'How can they call this a World Cup when it is only being played between 10 teams, what world are they living in?'
Ireland, the only Associate side to cause an upset in last month's World Cup when they beat England in the highest ever successful run chase, said the sport's governing body made the call purely for financial reasons.
'Clearly this demonstrates that there are no sporting principles being discussed at the board table, it's purely about money and the protection of privilege. We think it's a disgraceful decision,' said Ireland chief executive and ICC committee member Warren Deutrom. 'I was absolutely ashamed to be part of a mechanism which can permit decisions like this to be made.'
Ireland also beat heavyweights Pakistan four years' ago on their way to making the second round of the competition.
What makes the decision to downsize all the more controversial is that Ireland have been ranked in the top ten previously, dislodging Test nation Zimbabwe from their perch.
Smith agrees with Deutrom's logic of thinking, insisting that the bigger sides are being protected from upsets that could see them get knocked out by the minnows.
A qualification tournament was backed by the former St. George's stalwart in which the top two teams from the Associates would be granted a spot in the finals.
'The reality is this after the World Cup in 2007 when India and Pakistan were dumped out in the first round changes started right there and then, that is why you saw the new format being played this year to protect the bigger teams,' he said.
'What they should do is have a mini World Cup with the Associate teams and at least have the two finalists be given a path to the World Cup.
This year's tournament, won by India on Saturday, had 14 teams competing and lasted for six weeks, a length that was criticised.
The 10 spots available for the 2019 tournament in England will be determined on the basis of qualification.