The 2019 World Cup has only 10 teams who will play each other once in the group stage. The top four teams will then qualify for the semi-finals. The top 8 ODI teams had qualified for the 2019 World Cup directly, while the remaining two spots were decided by the World Cup qualifiers. West Indies and Afghanistan were the finalists in the Qualifiers and qualified for the World Cup. For the record, Afghanistan won the Qualifiers, beating West Indies in the final.
This system is a departure from the earlier formats followed since the 1999 World Cup where minnows such as Kenya, Scotland, Ireland, UAE were also given the chance to play the premier tournament in a bid to promote cricket globally.
However, ICC has done away with the format in the 2019 World Cup and only the top limited-overs teams will clash with each other.
So, is it a right move by ICC to exclude the minnows and include only the favourite boys of cricket?
Cricwizz takes a look at the pros and cons of such a decision
Pros of having only top ODI teams in World Cup
No meaningless matches anymore
Earlier, when the minnows were included in the World Cup, there were a few meaningless matches as the difference in the quality of such teams were vast compared to the top teams. There were hardly any spectators to see these matches live, both on the ground and in front of the television, as the big boys used to thrash the minnows and post a comfortably easy win.
By ruling out minnows from 2019 World Cup, ICC has made sure the quality of cricket remains high and there’s never a dull and boring match in the tournament.
The World Cup Qualifiers was a great hit
The World Cup Qualifiers saw Afghanistan come from the brink of exit to win the tournament. They were almost out of the race for World Cup, but they lifted their game to not only make it to the final but also beat favourites West Indies for the crown. The success of that tournament would have instilled belief in ICC that they made the right move by ignoring the minnows for 2019 WC.
Minnows make quarters participation easy
The last few World Cup editions have seen that the path to quarters is pretty easy as bagging two points against minnows is just a walk in the park. Hence, the top teams easily make it to the quarters without breaking a sweat. The 1999 World Cup in England was an exception as teams carried forward points to Super Six stage from the group stage. Hence, ICC has made it tougher for teams to qualify for semis in 2019 World Cup as only the best limited-overs teams will play in the tournament.
Cons of excluding minnows from 2019 World Cup
Cricket as a global sport takes a hit
If ICC wishes to make cricket a global sport, then this move to exclude minnows from 2019 World Cup is a step in the wrong direction. Only 10 nations will be keenly interested to watch the tournament from close quarters. Minnows such as Kenya, Ireland (recently got Test status) who have done well in the past in World Cup will feel bitter with the ICC move as they will miss out on all the action.
No thrilling upsets anymore
Minnows have earlier spiced up World Cup with their performances. They have left top teams red-faced at times. Ireland have knocked out Pakistan in 2007 World Cup. Kenya has beaten a stars-filled West Indies team in 1996. Minnows Zimbabwe had beaten Australia in 1983 World Cup. Hence, there’s hardly any chance to see any major upsets like this in the 2019 World Cup.
Although World Cup 2019 promises a lot of quality cricket as only top teams will be playing the tournament, ICC must do something to bring minnows to the front and to promote cricket globally.