HK to fight ICC move to ditch World Cup minnows

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong will be at the forefront of moves to oppose the International Cricket Council from reducing the number of associate members at the 2011 World Cup from six to four.

Associate members are up in arms at the proposal, apparently put forward by subcontinent powers India and Pakistan, who will co-host the next World Cup. The move was described as a 'retrograde' step by Hong Kong Cricket Association secretary John Cribbin.

'We're totally against this proposal to reduce the number of associate members at the next World Cup,' said Cribbin, one of three elected associate representatives on the ICC council. 'It appears the big boys are running scared of the competition.'

Hong Kong are still in with a chance of qualifying for the 2011 World Cup. They'll need to finish in the top two at October's ICC World Cricket League Division Four tournament in Tanzania, then do likewise in Division Three to book their berth in the 12-team ICC Trophy in 2009.

Six teams from the ICC Trophy will qualify for the 2011 World Cup - unless India and Pakistan have their say - and join the 10 test nations.

Cribbin revealed he and his fellow associate members on the ICC - Ireland and Namibia - will fight for the retention of the same number of teams as at the last World Cup in 2007 when the chief executives of the test-playing nations in the ICC meet in Kuala Lumpur next month.

'I believe this move to cut numbers was brought by India and Pakistan, both of whom were knocked out in the preliminary rounds at the 2007 World Cup. This would be a retrograde step and I hope the ICC will not do it,' Cribbin said.

'This is a World Cup and if the ICC is serious about globalisation, they should encourage associate members and stick to the same number of teams.'

The early elimination of India and Pakistan at last year's World Cup in the West Indies was a financially crippling blow to local organisers as well as the world governing body, which relies on the World Cups for most of its revenue. Pakistan's demise was in part due to a defeat by associate member Ireland.

It is understood the favoured format for 2011 is the one used by South Africa in 2003 where 14 teams took part, split into two groups of seven with the top three progressing to the Super Sixes. It was heavily criticised at the time for being too long, but more matches mean more revenue for the organisers and that is also a priority for the ICC.

'I know that eight of the associate members who have already qualified for the ICC Trophy have written to the ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed raising their concerns about the proposed cut,' Cribbin said.

He added: 'We [associate members] will be meeting before the ICC council to plan our opposition. Hong Kong is totally against this as it counters the move to expand the game globally.'

At the last World Cup, Ireland made it through to the Super Eights, although the performances of other leading associate sides like Bermuda and Canada were poor.