Yes, the underdog associate cricketers from mainland Europe have slapped the ICC (International Cricket Council) right in the face. One wonders if more slaps are to follow.
Even though I am not a huge fan of cricket, I follow the game, especially during a world cup. The main reason is that I tend to support the associate members against the so-called giants. These two classes meet at the world cups every four years.
From its inception in 1975, cricket world cup has had non-test cricket playing teams in it. Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh all reaped heaps of benefits in these encounters during their associate days. The Lankans humiliated the Indians in 1979 and the Zimbabweans recorded a shocking win against Australia, their first and only win against that country to date. In 1996, and again in 2003, Kenya made a lasting impression, reaching the Semi-Final in the latter tournament.
This prompted the ICC to give more representation to the associate members in the world cup. Despite some successes, many teams have not performed up to the expectations of the ICC. Hence, they were considering to reduce the number of participants to 10 from 2015. This would have deprived any associate member to play for the world cup, and from a personal point of view, would have killed much of my enthusiasm in the event.
Well, its not a surprise that the teams have not performed. Teams like Bermuda cannot be expected to be giant killers. It is true that 16 teams is too much for a world cup. But why not 14? Or at least 12, like in 1996? Why can't another team do what Sri Lanka did in 1996, where they won the cup in the 6th world cup after starting in 1975 and 1979 as an associate? Why can't an associate do what the Kenyans did in 2003?
Well, arguments and speculations don't count without performances. Supporters of associate teams need support from the teams themselves. That is what the Dutch team has done a few days ago against the people who introduced cricket to the world. Only their inexperience saved the English team from disaster.
Once the English team actually faced the disaster of losing to a minor team in T20 world cup when the Dutch themselves won a thrilling victory. This time, they were able to put on a very competitive total of 292, which came as a surprise to some. It showed the capabilities of the Dutch batting.
This is a reminder to the ICC that associate members are not to be underestimated. If the ICC seeks to spread the popularity of cricket, what they should do is to expose the junior sides to more cricket at a higher level, rather than exposing the whole bunch of them to the power of the giants and then start complaining.