For associate nations it's not just a World Cup, it's much more
One basic idea behind a World Cup in any sport is to bring several nations together, ignite bonds of kinship, build stronger ties of sportsmanship between nations. The very idea of a World Cup is that of getting nations to play against each other, allowing every nation an equivalent opportunity to attain glory on the world stage – kindling equal hopes in fans of all participating nations.
Sports is not just about winning and losing – it’s about structuring stronger ties through the median of sports, giving fans from every participating nation a ray of hope even in the most toughest of circumstances that the nation may be going through.
The heartening case of Afghanistan
The most befitting example is that of the Afghanistan team. The challenges that the players have had to go through to pursue a career in the sports and the lack of exposure that they have got on the world stage are only a couple of the reasons why their appearance in theis World Cup was heartening.
They may not have qualified for the quarter finals but they achieved something way more than that; they achieved glory for their country by virtue of a sport.
Afghanistan’s win over Scotland and the passion with which the Afghanistani players rushed to the ground after their team won will remain a sight to cherish. Not every win is so cherished by the team members and not every win is as special as this.
It is imperative that ICC realizes that it has an obligation much larger than the scheduling problems on it’s hands. Dreams of people rely on this sport; dreams of whole countries rely on it.
World Cup without the world?
Most of the players representing the associate nations do not play cricket to earn their primary source of income, they’ve regular jobs alongside.
For the 22-year old George Dockrell, pursuing a college degree and playing cricket for his national side can in no way be easy. But that’s what dreams of national glory are like.
Looking back on past World Cups, I for one do not necessarily get reminded of the finals of each of the tournaments, but in fact some particular moments – like Kenya beating the West Indies in the 1996 World Cup. With a modest total of 166, one would’ve clearly ruled out this associate nation to stop the likes of Lara, Chanderpaul and Richardson. However, not only did Kenya upset West Indies in this encounter but did so in an emphatic fashion, bowling them out for a mere 93.
Bangladesh and Ireland upset India and Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup, reaching much financial pain to the ICC, but doing much good for the sport otherwise. This being Ireland’s firstly major victory against a test playing nation; the hopes of the nation lifted with this win – in the very next World Cup in 2011, the Irish upset the England team – powered by Kevin O’Brien’s memorable 100.
A world cup without associate nations just wont be the same.
I believe that the World Cup is a world stage, where not just 16 but in fact more countries should be given a chance to showcase their talent.
The samaritan role of cricket
If ICC does cut short the participating teams, we may never see the Irish upsetting a major test playing nation again, nor the emotions of the Afghanistani team which ran into the ground after beating Scotland with the passion for the game of cricket clearly visible in their eyes.
The ICC must consider the passion with which the associate nations play this sport; they do not just play to win, but also to give their nation a sense of identity with the sport; it gives a few individuals the ideal stage to help their countries come out from various problems that may be in.
Considering cricket can have a power as significant as this, the power must not only be constrained to a limited number countries, but instead be spread around.