Is It a Cricket World Cup If Much of the World Is Missing?

Vishal Chauhan, 24/05/2019
Is It a Cricket World Cup If Much of the World Is Missing?

All the usual suspects have gathered for the World Cup at the home of cricket, and yet something is missing. The rest of the world.

When the first ball is bowled at The Oval on Thursday, only 10 teams will be vying to be world champion, the smallest number since 1992. After the hugely popular, successful, and entertaining 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the format was slashed from 14 teams to 10. Qualifying was a prize for only two teams. No Associate members qualified.

So, no Zimbabwe for the first time in 36 years. No Ireland for the first time in 12. No other recent competitors such as Scotland, Kenya, Netherlands, or Canada.

Yes, more often than not those teams were fodder for the big guns, but they were improved, who delivered some of the World Cup's greatest moments. The moments broadcasters love to replay during rain delays, and moments when the world took notice of the Cricket World Cup.

File photo of Kevin O’Brien.

File photo of Kevin O’Brien. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/Cricket World Cup)

Occasions when Ireland upset Pakistan in 2007, England in 2011 with Kevin O'Brien's comeback century, and the West Indies in 2015; when Zimbabwe beat Australia in 1983, England in 1992 with Eddo Brandes' four-for, and India and South Africa in 1999; and when Kenya beat Sri Lanka in 2003. Add Canada’s John Davison teeing off against the West Indies in 2003 with what was then the World Cup’s fastest century.

Who doesn’t like surprises? Well, cricket power brokers India, England, and Australia didn’t.

They led a demand in 2010 for "more competitive" World Cups by reducing the field to the size of the Champions Trophy.

That way, they could ensure that, as the favorite teams for TV and advertisers, they would be in the tournament for at least a month of the six-week saga.

But at a time when FIFA is planning to add 16 extra teams to the soccer World Cup, the Rugby World Cup wants to add four, and the Olympics added five new sports, reducing numbers in cricket's showpiece is contrary to administrative mantras about developing the global game.

In spite of all this, the 12th Cricket World Cup ought to be a smash hit.