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ICC CEO: focus is more competitive, not just more teams

March 26, 2015

SYDNEY (AP) — International Cricket Council chief executive Dave Richardson has tempered calls for the 2019 World Cup to be expanded from its planned 10 teams, saying the sport’s governing body is concentrating on building competitiveness among the international teams rather than expansion.

On the sidelines of the World Cup semifinal in which Australia beat defending champion India by 95 runs at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday, Richardson said the ICC leadership would look at its current position of limiting the 2019 tournament to 10 teams. But he said it was unlikely to shift its position despite pressure from the second-tier — or Associate — teams and cricket fans globally.

“I still would like to keep that debate for another day,” said Richardson, a former South Africa test wicketkeeper. “I think the board will discuss that at their meetings in April. The decision has been made, as we stand it’s a 10-team tournament at the next World Cup.”

Richardson said there should be more thought given to what is being done to enable Associate countries to qualify for a World Cup, “whether it’s an eight-team, 10-team, 12-team, 14 or 16-team” tournament.

“I think that’s where we’ve made the most progress,” he said. “We want the World Cup to not just be a window-dressing but a shop window for cricket at the highest level.”

Richardson said the ICC’s focus was now consolidating on its growth and ensuring cricket playing countries remain competitive, while hinting at a focus on the U.S. market.

“I think there’s a slight change in strategy (on) our board in that we’ve been through a phase of trying to grow the game from 44 members playing to 106 members,” he said. “Now we realize, let’s not spread ourselves our too thin, we’ve got full member countries, Zimbabwe being one, West Indies maybe, where we’ve got to be careful that they don’t fall off the ship.

“We might have a pool of 10 teams that are reasonably competitive at the moment, so trying to grow that pool.”

Richardson gave the United States as an example of a “country that has enormous potential” in the game.

“It’ll be challenging because they don’t have the necessary administration and infrastructure in place,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll happen in this eight-year cycle but maybe in the next where we take a major event to one of those countries.”

Player behavior was another potential issue for the ICC this tournament after several high-profile incidents involving Australia and India in a recent test series. However, Richardson claimed the World Cup had been played in a good spirit.

“I think the player behavior in this tournament has been excellent,” Richardson said. “I think the players are starting to realize, or understand better, where the line is and that we’re not trying to stamp out aggressive play, just trying to stamp out loutish behavior.”

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