Minnows fume over Twenty20 setback

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 July, 2011, 12:00am


Take it or leave it. That's the name of the game after the International Cricket Council laid down the law to its recalcitrant second-tier membership, stressing next year's ICC World Twenty20 would be a 12-team tournament, leaving room for only two associates.

'This is cast in stone,' ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said at the end of the annual conference in Hong Kong yesterday.

While reduced numbers will dent Hong Kong's hopes of qualifying for the World Twenty20, there was good news as far as the 50-overs World Cup in 2015 was concerned, with Lorgat revealing the ICC would stick to the same qualifying process used for the 2011 tournament.

But Lorgat was in uncompromising mood on the World Twenty20 and unwilling to give another inch, a feeling which surely must have been hardened after the world governing body had been forced to back down from its efforts to host a 10-team World Cup (50 overs) in 2015.

Following immense pressure from the associates, the ICC rescinded its decision made two months ago and reinstated a 14-team World Cup similar to this year's showpiece won by India. In return, it cut the World Twenty20 next year in Sri Lanka from 16 teams to 12, reducing associates from six to two.

'We are all unhappy with this decision. They give with one hand and take with the other, and this was the general feeling among the associates. We are resolved to opposing this move,' said Hong Kong Cricket Association secretary John Cribbin, who is also a member of the ICC chief executives' committee representing the associates.

It is understood yesterday's full session, which brought the curtain down on the five-day conference, had been confrontational at times.

'We will challenge this decision; we won't sit back,' Africa Cricket Association chief executive Cassim Suleiman said.

Another member, who did not want to be named, added: 'The ICC talks about globalising the game, but they then take away our opportunity to shine on the world stage.'

Lorgat said: 'The ICC acknowledges their disappointment but the decision to have 14 teams at the World Cup and 12 at the World Twenty20 is a return to the current format for ICC events. We need to retain a balance and financial considerations also counted.'

In January, Lorgat told the South China Morning Post the ICC believed the Twenty20 version was the best way forward for associate members to develop their game. He said this was the reasoning behind the move to cut down numbers at the 50-overs World Cup. But that seems to have been forgotten.

Yet, Hong Kong can still count its blessings with the same qualifying system used for the 2011 tournament to be in place for 2015. This means Hong Kong is guaranteed ICC funding annually of US$350,000 until 2013, when the final World Cul qualifying tournament takes place in Scotland.

'This is very positive news for us as it means we will continue to be an ICC high-performance country for the next couple of years and we can now focus of the national team's preparations for 2013,' HKCA chairman Dinesh Tandon said.

Hong Kong are in the ICC World Cricket League Division Two and, along with the United Arab Emirates, Namibia and Papua New Guinea, will join the six Division One teams - Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Scotland, and the Netherlands - plus two more from Division Three in 2013, to decide which four teams progress through to the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The ICC full council also decided to ban countries from appointing politicians to its national boards, and vowed to free the sport from undue government interference. A deadline of June 2013 has been put in place for countries to fall in line.

'Tough decisions often have to be made and this week has been no exception,' ICC president Sharad Pawar said. 'I am, though, confident we have made these decisions which are in the best interests of cricket. There have been challenges, as always, but the great community of cricket showed it was ready and capable of facing those challenges.'