Former England skipper Mike Atherton has slammed the ICC’s proposal to cut the 2019 Cricket World Cup from 14 to 10 teams, saying it gave no incentive for the likes of Ireland and Zimbabwe to remain in the sport.
Alastair Cook: England wrong to sack me as one-day captain
England Cricket World Cup player ratings: which player scores just 2 out of 10 after tournament misery?
Graves Pietersen: Will KP make an England return?
Atherton backed Ireland captain Will Porterfield, who on Tuesday attacked the ICC on Twitter, saying cricket’s governing body did not care about smaller nations.
“International cricket is contracting, not expanding. The ICC’s decision to reduce the number of teams at the next World Cup … has rightly been widely criticised,” Atherton said wrote in a column for The Times.
“But even if they recant, that will not change the underlying trend that, outside the four or five major international teams, incentives are skewing priorities.
“As William Porterfield, Ireland’s captain, has so eloquently stated, there is not enough incentive right now for the associates like Ireland to keep playing.
“For those cricketers of full member countries outside of the big three or four, the incentives are pushing them away.”
Atherton drew on the example of Zimbabwe star Brendan Taylor, who quit international cricket at the age of 29 to sign a Kolpak deal with English county side Nottinghamshire.
“For Taylor there is no financial future in committing to Zimbabwe, and a number of West Indies cricketers are reportedly contemplating retirement at the end of this tournament to allow them freedom to play franchised Twenty20 tournaments the world over,” Atherton wrote.
“Incentives are the strongest driver of radical change and incentives in the cricketing world have shifted dramatically of late, in favour of the major Test-playing countries (England, India and Australia who dominate the workings of the ICC) and domestic franchises.
“As a result, international competition is gradually losing its dominant place in the cricketing universe. Taylor’s move is another sign of the way the wind is blowing.”
Associate nation Ireland narrowly missed out on a place in the quarter-finals after winning three out of its six matches and fell short of the knockout rounds due to its net run-rate.
Do you agree with Atherton? Should the number of World Cup sides be expanded to include smaller nations?
Let us know in the comments section below!