UAE coach criticises World Cup plans


UAE coach Aaqib Javed, a World Cup winner with Pakistan in 1992, has become the latest figure to voice dissent at ICC plans to reduce future tournaments to ten teams.

The 2019 World Cup is expected to feature the eight top-ranked nations – almost certainly Full Members – along with two other teams who will come through a qualifying tournament in Bangladesh. Ireland and Afghanistan have been given a theoretical pathway to an automatic spot by being included in the rankings system but there are doubts as to whether they will play enough ODIs to reach the top eight.

The current tournament features four Associate nations in UAE, Ireland, Afghanistan and Scotland, following the same format as 2011. Four years ago, the ICC decided to trim the numbers but was met with a wave of resistance and ultimately reversed the decision.

Earlier this month, ICC chief executive David Richardson said World Cups should feature “evenly matched teams”. So far in Australia and New Zealand, while there have been several mismatches between Full Members, Ireland have beaten West Indies, Scotland gave New Zealand a scare on the way to a three-wicket win, UAE ran Zimbabwe close and Afghanistan threatened a victory over Sri Lanka.

“I think the gap is narrowing now and every Associate is pushing the Full Members,” Javed told UAE newspaper the National. “I am really surprised by the decision the ICC already made that the next World Cup would be 10 teams.

“Which 10 teams? If you look at the performances from some teams, their graph has been going down, like West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. I am not just talking about in this World Cup. Overall, what have they achieved in the past 10 years? Why can’t there be pressure on them to improve, or go down?”

He echoed comments made before the tournament by Ireland’s Ed Joyce, who questioned why cricket was trying to shrink participation in its marquee event, while other sports are looking to expand theirs.

“It is very unusual if you compare it to other sports,” Javed said. “Sports need competition and opportunities for every one. What is there for us in Associate cricket? Ireland have been doing so well for the past 10 years, but haven’t gained anything. When it comes to open series, nobody wants to play them. Nobody wants to play Associate teams.”

Due to the nature of bilateral agreements and cricket’s crowded schedule, Associate nations have found fixtures against the big teams hard to come by. Javed said there should be “an actual punishment” for underperforming Full Members and suggested two ODI divisions of eight teams, with promotion and relegation.

“If after two years there was promotion and relegation, how much interest would be created? This is not rocket science,” he said. “Who are the ICC protecting and why are they protecting them? Forget about audience, it is about competition. Once you are a Test nation, you are a Test nation forever, whatever you do. There is no pressure on them.”