Smaller nations need help to grow, says Watson
Australian vice-captain Shane Watson called for the International Cricket Council (ICC) to provide more competitive cricket for the smaller nations as he lauded the decision to include the associates at the 2015 World Cup.
'We have to make sure there is more consistent and competitive cricket for the smaller nations to continue to grow and develop,' said Watson, who was a guest speaker at last night's ICC gala dinner at the Ritz-Carlton along with former Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly.
Watson, Australia's opening batsman in all types of the game and an opening bowler as well, stressed there was no substitute for playing the game, and said it was important that decision-makers understood this.
'I think the qualifying process for the World Cup will be important. The smaller nations will be playing more competitive games with so much riding on it. It is great they can still aim for the World Cup. No doubt it is the right decision. When I heard there was only going to be the 10 top nations playing at the next World Cup, I was extremely disappointed. It is brilliant they have been included, or get back to where it was originally,' said Watson, who was recently named Australia's Cricketer of the Year.
On Monday, the ICC executive board reversed its earlier decision to limit the 2015 World Cup to the 10 full members and reinstated the 14-team format. The 2015 tournament will be played in Australia and New Zealand.
Ganguly, who retired from test cricket in 2008, also gave the thumbs up to the ICC's decision. 'If you don't play [at the World Cup], you won't learn, so you want these teams to keep playing, otherwise how will they get better? It is a good decision to include the associates,' said Ganguly.
It was the first time both Ganguly and Watson had turned up in Hong Kong. Unfortunately a training clinic for about 50 children at Kowloon Cricket Club was rained off yesterday and instead the duo were kept on their toes answering questions indoors.
The ICC executive board meeting also ended on a damp note with the executive board deciding to defer until October the touchy issue of the appointment of its president in 2014. With both Pakistan and Bangladesh, whose turn comes in 2014 to fill the top two posts of president and vice-president, vehemently opposing a move to scrap the rotational policy, it was felt prudent to give members more time to digest moves to scrap tradition.
So the ICC annual conference will end today without the full council needing to vote.