"10-team World Cup a backward step" - Sachin Tendulkar
Indian batting legend and 2011 World Cup winner Sachin Tendulkar has disagreed with the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to reduce the number of participating teams from 14 to 10 in the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England & Wales, asking the sport’s governing body to expand the event to as many as 25 teams so as to spread the game to different parts of the world.
"I found out the next World Cup would only be ten teams, which is slightly disappointing because as a cricketer I want the game to be globalised as much as possible and, according to me, this is a backwards step,” Tendulkar said.
This is in stark contrast to the views of ICC CEO David Richardson, who had indicated that the next World Cup would be reduced to only 10 teams in order to decrease the number of one-sided contests in the game's marquee event.
"The World Cup itself, the premium event, without exception, should be played between teams that are evenly matched and competitive,” Richardson had said.
Associate nations need more exposure: Tendulkar
Tendulkar felt that the associate nations have been given a raw deal as far as playing games on the international stage is concerned and urged the ICC to find a way by which they can get more exposure to playing against the top teams.
"We've got to find ways of encouraging the lesser teams.
"The lesser teams have, in each and every World Cup, they always surprise top teams.And they can do it on a consistent basis only if they're given a fair platform to express their talent,” the former right-hander said.
"Right now, they get up after four years on the cricket world's biggest platform and they're expected to play and compete with the likes of Australia, South Africa, India, New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka, so many top sides. It's unfair to them,” he added.
Tendulkar recommends tours by ‘A’ teams to associate countries
The Little Master suggested that the ‘A’ teams of the top countries could be sent to these smaller countries to compete with them on a regular basis.
“It is not just about the top six or seven sides. If we are to globalise this game we have to get more and more people excited about cricket and the fan following only follows the result.
“Why not get Australia A, England A, New Zealand A, South Africa A, New Zealand A, India A, everyone, to go and visit these countries and play them on a regular basis. And see, not just 14 teams, but how can we get to 25 teams participating in the next World Cup?" the highest run-getter in Tests and ODIs said.
“If the results are good then you have more fans, so it's important that they play good cricket consistently for a longer period, not just one good performance and then suddenly they go underground for four years and then turn up if they do well in those qualifying rounds,” he added.