Putting the 'World' back in the World Cup

  • Harikrishnan Nair, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Feb 20, 2015 20:01 IST

Every four years, when the Cricket World Cup comes to life, I used to have this constant feeling that there was something missing. When Ireland beat West Indies on Monday, I felt a sense of pride which was rather unusual. It was great to see an almost invisible nation on the cricketing map beat a once-invincible team.

It was then I realised what was 'missing'. Where is the 'world' in the World Cup?

Cricket always struggled to catch the eye of the rest of the world. A game of bat, ball and a lot of rules does not seem to be attractive to anyone except a select few countries.

Opportunity is most missed word in cricket. Many countries do not play the game simply because they are not given an opportunity to compete and learn from the best.

The coming of age of a team like Ireland is impressive. Every World Cup, they have been creating lasting impressions in the minds of cricket lovers. It is a pity that the ICC plans to leave them out of the next edition.

The so-called 'minnows' must never be underestimated. India and Sri Lanka, two very powerful cricketing nations, were underdogs during the world cups they eventually went on to win.

At the same time, it is sad to see once great powers made to humble the way they are now. The decline in the quality of cricket from Zimbabwe and West Indies is a stark reminder that if the administration is not forward-looking, their cricket will suffer.

The Americas and Middle east regions are a great place to source talent. The Asian diaspora there is already building up mini-cricket leagues of its own. They could do with some professional help.

Only two European nations are playing this world cup- England and Ireland. And even here, quality players from Ireland such as Eoin Morgan are opting to play for England citing better opportunities.

Dirk Nannes, one of the best fast bowlers around at one time, comes from Holland but opts to play for Australia for similar reasons.

To bring the world into cricket, I believe domestic leagues are the way forward. IPL and Big Bash teams must scout for talent outside the regular cricketing regions and give them exposure to quality cricket.

Secondly, cricketing bodies of permanent must take up responsibility of developing cricket in a particular region. India, for instance, could aggressively push the game in to Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan.

Thirdly, despite T20 being the more popular version of the game, it is the 50 over format that must be given the push here. It is a format the combines the pace of a T20 while giving enough time for players to test their mettle like in tests.

It will be great to see, maybe 20 years from now, Argentinan batsmen hit a six, a Chinese fielder reacting in seconds at point and a Brazilian running in with a ball in hand. But most of all, I would like to see their faces when they hear the din that an Eden Garden crowd can make.

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