The first round matches of the ongoing T20 World Cup have thrown up quite a few fascinating contests, some shocking results, and lots of enthralling performances. Impressed by it all, former Windies captain Sir Clive Lloyd opined that the gap between the full-member and associate nations should be bridged for the development and globalisation of the sport.
Among the eight teams fighting for the four remaining spots in the Super 12, there are three full-member countries – namely, Bangladesh, Ireland and Sri Lanka. While giving a shoutout to Papua New Guinea (PNG), Lloyd urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to organise more matches between the minnows and ‘A’ sides of the heavyweights.
“I have become a fan of PNG for the kind of passion they have shown here. The more associate member nations are able to play the big teams – like in this case, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, some of these teams – they will improve leaps and bounds. So the ICC should consider at least to have ‘A’ teams of the big countries play these associate member countries that much more,” the former World Cup-winning captain told Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview.
After being handed a 10-wicket defeat in the opening tie against co-hosts Oman, Assad Vala’s PNG went down fighting in a 17-run loss to Scotland on Tuesday. Among the shockers, the Scotsmen beat Bangladesh by 6 runs while debutants Namibia had Sri Lanka on the mat – at 26 for 3 – before eventually losing by 7 wickets.
“Maybe the ICC could have thought of adding Bangladesh and Sri Lanka directly” – Sir Clive Llyod
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There isn’t a clear qualifier yet from either of the two groups in the opening round. While Scotland and Bangladesh look the favourites from Group B, Sri Lanka and Ireland are most likely to finish one-two in Group A.
Sir Clive Lloyd, though, suggested that the ICC could have given direct entry to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka into the Super 12 mix to enable two more associate nations to play the qualifying round.
He further took cognisance of the enthusiasm of the crowd that has thronged the Al Almerat Cricket Ground in Oman, hinting at the influence of bigger nations playing in countries which aren't quite cricketing powerhouses.
“Maybe the ICC could have thought of adding Bangladesh and Sri Lanka directly, and gotten two more associate member countries here, sort of rejig the format a little bit. Because clearly you are seeing, more and more associate member countries are getting exposure, the standard of cricket is high – Scotland, Ireland, PNG, Oman playing extremely good cricket – and that will only augur well.
“Because Oman at the Al Amerat Stadium had 3000 people, new stadium, so clearly new constituencies of crowds and spectators are coming into the game as a result of the fact that they are playing the game at the highest level. So there is a thought for the ICC there, how to utilise this momentum and I am absolutely delighted with all of this,” Lloyd, who led the West Indies to consecutive ICC titles in 1975 and 1979, exclaimed.
The Super 12 fixtures begin on October 23, with Australia taking on South Africa squad for T20 World Cup and England clashing with defending champions Windies. Virat Kohli’s India will begin their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan in Dubai on October 24.
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