Cricket is shamed by football's World Cup after Scotland 'do an Iceland' to England

Ajit Vijaykumar 20:21 11/06/2018
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Scotland stunned world No1 England by six runs.

The 2019 cricket World Cup in England will have ten teams. The 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand had 14. The 2017 Champions Trophy had eight teams.

So why is it called a ‘world’ cup? It’s barely a Commonwealth games. With 14 teams, those outside the cricket’s well-established territories at least had the opportunity to show the big boys they can challenge the best in the world.

Gone are the days when ‘minnows’ would be embarrassed by second-string sides of major nations. No rank amateurs here who will be knocked over simply by the reputation of the opposition. Which is why we saw incredible performances like Ireland’s wins over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup and against England in the 2011 World Cup.

But now we are down to ten teams for the showpiece event next year. Two more than the Champions Trophy and without the newest Test nation – Ireland. As former Scotland captain Preston Mommsen said it perfectly: “I don’t want to call it a World Cup because it isn’t. It is just a tournament with ten teams.”

On Sunday, Scotland defeated the world’s No1 ODI team England by six runs while defending a massive 371 for five. It was Scotland’s first game after they were cruelly denied a spot in next year’s World Cup by rain and poor umpiring in their final qualifier against the West Indies in Harare in March.

Calum MacLeod cracked 140 while Mark Watt picked up 3-55 against the No1 team in the world in Edinburgh. At a time when cricket fans across the world should be getting an opportunity to witness what hungry players from Scotland and other Associate teams can do, those calling the shots have fenced everyone in and made the World Cup a ‘members only’ club instead of a village fair.

The football World Cup begins on Thursday in Russia. FIFA has accommodated 32 teams in the tournament with two debutants – Panama and Iceland.

Here are some interesting facts about the two teams. The central American country of Panama has a population of 4 million. Iceland has just 340,000. Most big cities in the world have more people than that combined.

Now, they have an opportunity to show 30 other nations from across the globe what they can do. Iceland have done it before. The tiny nation defeated England at Euro 2016 and made it to the quarter-finals where they lost to hosts France.

In the 1950 World Cup, a bunch of semi-professional USA players defeated tournament favourites England. Algeria’s 2-1 win West Germany in the 1982 edition is considered one of the greatest upsets of all time.

But the cricket World Cup seems content as long as there is an India-Pakistan clash early in the tournament and then again in the knockouts which allows the ICC and broadcasters to laugh all the way to the bank.

We now know it’s not about games being competitive because Scotland and Ireland have thrown that argument out of the window. But since TV ratings dictate cricketing schedules and tournament formats, as has become the norm nowadays, none of it really matters.

Cricket’s world will be restricted to 10 teams. Everyone else is welcome to turn on the TV and watch.

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