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Give Associates a chance ICC, let them play - Join the World Cup Twitter campaign

Join the Twitter campaign to make ICC aware that fans want Associate nations to participate in the 2019 World Cup

A historic moment – Shapoor Zadran celebrates hitting the winning runs for Afghanistan at Dunedin

Shapoor Zadran is on his knees. Hands stretched. He's just tucked a full delivery to the leg side for a four. He's embraced by Hamid Hassan. One by one, his teammates hug him.

A ball ago, he was gone for all money, almost run out, but the fielder's throw missed the stumps.

Next ball, he's Afghanistan's hero, along with Samiullah Shenwari, the man who made a magical 96 against all odds, Hassan, who kept Shenwari company, and others. They've just delivered a thrilling, nail-biting, heart-stopping historic victory for Afghanistan in the World Cup.

They aren't household names in the cricketing world yet. They're no Maxwells, no ABDs, no McCullums. But now they will be. They should be.

*****

A day ago, Ireland saw off a spirited UAE to register their 2nd win in as many games. A thrilling finish, a close match, and what is my most enduring memory of the game? Amjad Javed, the UAE medium pacer, just smiling away after what should have been a heart-breaking DRS review.

UAE needed 4 wickets and Gary Wilson was on 72, as 21 runs separated Ireland from victory. His lbw appeal was spot on, but the Hawk-Eye showed the ball was clipping the bails. 2 reds and one frustratingly close umpire's call. Dale Steyn would have hollered away at no one in particular. Javed just smiled.

UAE’s Amjad Javed reminds me of Bollywood actor Shreyas Talpade in the movie Iqbal

Earlier in the innings, Javed's delivery beat Ed Joyce's half-hearted poke, hit the off-stump and managed to dislodge the bail. To everyone's utter shock, the bail landed back in its groove. Joyce was not out. Next ball, similar delivery, a bit fuller and Joyce creamed it down the ground for four. Javed walked away after that over, smiling, laughing at his own misfortune.

Sorry Ireland, I was hooked. I was cheering for UAE in the end.

*****

Ireland-UAE and Afghanistan-Scotland have been the two best matches of this tournament for me so far, and I’m not alone in sharing that sentiment. The margin of result in this World Cup so far clearly shows how one-sided matches between full-member nations have been. The matches involving Associates however, have turned out to be much closely fought affairs!

Margin of result for matches between full-member nations:

Match Result
NZ vs SL NZ won by 98 runs
Aus vs Eng Aus won by 111 runs
SA vs Zim SA won by 62 runs
Ind vs Pak Ind won by 76 runs
NZ vs Eng NZ won by 8 wickets
Pak vs WI WI won by 150 runs
Ind vs SA Ind won by 130 runs
WI vs Zim WI won by 73 runs (D/L)
Ban vs SL SL won by 92 runs
SA vs WI SA won by 257 runs

Margin of result for matches involving associates:

Match Result
Ire vs WI Ireland won by 4 wickets
NZ vs Sco NZ won by 3 wickets
Afg vs Ban Ban won by 105 runs
UAE vs Zim Zim won by 4 wickets
Afg vs SL SL won by 4 wickets
Eng vs Sco Eng won by 119 runs
Ire vs UAE Ire won by 2 wickets
Afg vs Sco Afg won by 1 wicket

The quality of cricket played by Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, UAE and Zimbabwe has been nothing short of impressive and it’s a shame that ICC will be closing the doors on almost all of them in the next World Cup. The 10-team 2019 World Cup is a slap on the spirit of inclusiveness that cricket stands for.

Denying young fans an opportunity to rally around their team – can ICC be any more cruel?

Siddarth Monga’s incredible view of Afghanistan cricket from inside the war-torn country leaves you in awe of the role cricket can play the life of people affected by war.

“There are certainly one or two guys who have had problems with their relatives being kidnapped by the Taliban. A lot of them were brought up in refugee camps in Pakistan. Without running water or electricity. Some serious hardship growing up. Lack of education in certain cases. One of the players told me how the Americans killed his cousins in drone attacks up in the north. They see cricket as a way to get out of the slums, the hardship, to give them a better life,” coach Andy Moles told Monga.

It’s not charity. Performance deserves chances. If the Associates would have failed to show up in this World Cup, there wouldn’t have been a clamour for the format in 2019.

Join the Twitter campaign

On /r/cricket, a growing and passionate community of global cricket followers on Reddit, a suggestion has been floated to trend #ICCLetThemPlay during the World Cup, to make ICC aware of the fans’ frustration.

The idea is simple. During the New Zealand vs Australia game, the next big World Cup fixture on Saturday, 28th Feb, if you’re on Twitter, simply tweet with the hashtag #ICCLetThemPlay with your thoughts on the match and Associates.

Let people know why Associates deserve a chance. Cricket is the second biggest team sport in the world, and with merely 10 major teams at the top level (out of which 3 are far too weak against the rest), we can’t afford to let promising nations out of the loop.

For far too long, a few have decided what’s in the best interest of the game. Cricket cannot survive without its fans. And its fans want Associates to be given more opportunities. If you care, it’s a simple way to let people know. The aim is to make #ICCLetThemPlay trend worldwide. It can force ICC to reconsider its decision.

Know anyone famous? Tell them about the campaign. Ask them to tweet #ICCLetThemPlay.

The online petition to reverse the decision for 2019 World Cup has already garnered 14,000 signatures. You can sign the petition too!

ICC is listening, we need to push harder

In the latest reports, ICC CEO David Richardson has agreed that the format isn’t finalised for the 2019 World Cup.

“I've learnt never to say never to anything. I'm sure the format of the next World Cup will be debated after this one has finished,” he told AFP on Friday.

“The question is what do you want the World Cup to be? Do you want it to be a jamboree of world cricket or the pinnacle of the one-day game?”

Where Mr. Richardson errs in this assessment, is clearly making a one way or the other battle. Why can’t the World Cup be the pinnacle of the ODI game AND a ‘jamboree of world cricket’?

/u/jonzey on Reddit gave a fitting response to this:

"The question is what do you want the World Cup to be? Do you want it to be a jamboree of world cricket or the pinnacle of the one-day game?"

It's not one or the other. It's both.

It's the pinnacle of the one day game, but a big part of it is that we get to see sides we don't normally see play at the highest level.

Why isn't there as much of a fuss when it comes to the FIFA World Cup? We get to see the best teams, but we also get to see sides like North Korea, Honduras, Angola, Iran, etc, who we don't get a chance to see normally unless we specifically seek them out.

If anything, we should be expanding the tournament to include more sides, but with a better format which condenses the overall tournament into a shorter time frame. The 2 groups of 7 is stupid, needs to be smaller groups instead.

As a fan, do you care for the Associates? Do you want to see them in the 2019 World Cup? Make your voice heard. Join the #ICCLetThemPlay campaign.

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