Sydney - The
number of teams taking part in the 2019 World Cup hasn't been
finalised, the International Cricket Council told AFP on Friday as it
responded to growing criticism that its proposed cut risked damaging the
Cricket chiefs have come under fire for
their plan to reduce the number of teams involved in England in four
years' time to 10 from the 14 taking part in the ongoing tournament in
Australia and New Zealand.
But ICC chief executive David
Richardson, in a telephone interview with AFP, said Friday: "I've learnt
never to say never to anything. I'm sure the format of the next World
Cup will be debated after this one has finished."
Ireland beat one
of the elite Test match nations for the third successive World Cup when
they defeated the West Indies by four wickets in their 2015 opener,
while Thursday saw tournament debutants Afghanistan's astonishingly
rapid progress continue when they defeated Scotland by just one wicket
to record their first World Cup win.
"I'm pleased with the performances of the qualifiers so far, but the bigger tests are still to come," said Richardson.
question is what do you want the World Cup to be? Do you want it to be a
jamboree of world cricket or the pinnacle of the one-day game?"
into this tournament there was criticism that the format (where 14
teams are split into two groups of seven, with the top four in each pool
qualifying for the quarter-finals) would leave us with a long group
stage, at the end of which the eight teams everyone thought would get
through had made it into the quarter-finals."
what his feelings were following the initially improved showing by the
four Associate sides - Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and the UAE - at
the World Cup, Richardson said: "There's a sense of relief. Our biggest
concern before the tournament was that these teams would be
An online petition calling for the ICC to abandon
its plan to reduce the number of teams in 2019 has already gathered more
than 13 000 signatures.
But Richardson said the thinking in
reducing the number of teams had been motivated by trying to get as near
to the "best format" 1992 World Cup
The nine sides taking part in
Australia and New Zealand 23 years ago all played each other, with the
top four going straight into the semi-finals.
"The best format was 1992," said Richardson, South Africa's wicketkeeper at that World Cup.
"You had nine teams, then the semi-finals. There was something up for grabs in every match."
But Richardson denied the 2019 World Cup would be a 'closed shop' of the elite Test-playing nations.
things stand, the eight top-ranked one-day sides as of September 30,
2017, will qualify automatically with the final two spots to be decided
by a qualifying tournament in Bangladesh in 2018.
are both members of the 10-strong Test 'elite', Zimbabwe and Bangladesh
have generally been ninth and tenth in the rankings and could well find
themselves involved in a qualifying event featuring the likes of Ireland
"We didn't want to go to 10 nations without
providing a pathway where you could have the leading associates and the
lower-ranked Test nations scrapping it out," said Richardson. "All will
have an opportunity to qualify."
The best way to improve a
ranking is to beat higher-ranked teams, yet the Test nations are not
obliged to play Associate or junior teams such as Ireland, who beat the
West Indies in their World Cup opener, outside of major tournaments.
a good point about the rankings. We are working with the full (Test)
members to make sure they play as much as possible against the
Associates," Richardson said.
"We are looking at upwards of six
ODIs each year for the Associates, although some of these may be against
each other. But the fixture schedule is congested."
Steve Waugh, Australia's former World Cup-winning captain, is among those who believe the emerging nations deserve their place.
is definitely important to have the minnow countries to grow the game
in different markets," Waugh told Friday's Sydney Morning Herald: "
"The World Cup of soccer has 32 countries. Cricket needs more than eight teams playing."