Set aside more money for the minnows
Erapalli Prasanna - 28 February 2003
Kenya has done the minnows of world cricket a big favour by
beating Sri Lanka, a result that higlighted the fact that there
is talent available outside the Test-playing countries. The shock
upset and John Davison's awesome century against the West Indies
has sent a reminder to the International Cricket Council (ICC)
that they have to do more to help these countries than just allow
them to play a few World Cup games once every four years.
The reach of cricket spans across all the continents now and all
the latest converts need is a helping hand from the ICC. There is
no shortage of funds at the disposal of the ICC, and I think it
will be a good idea for the game's premier body to set up
training academies in countries, which are knocking on the doors
of international recognition. Globalisation of the game can only
happen if the ICC chalks out a plan to improve the standard of
the game in these associate member countries so that they can be
integrated into the bigger international arena.
To achieve this, the ICC needs to look at re-investing the vast
amount of money generated from the current international
fixtures, by promoting more 'A' tours to associate member
countries and also by allowing countries like Canada, Namibia,
Kenya and Holland to tour the major cricketing countries. If my
memory serves me right, Canada's participation in this World Cup
was in doubt, as they couldn't find a sponsor. It is in such a
scenario that the ICC has to step in to help these countries.
The quality of cricket in the World Cup games, which involved the
minnows, though, has been abysmal. Blaming these teams though
will not solve the issue; the crux of the problem lies in the
economic realities in these associate countries. It will be
na´ve, to quote a hypothetical instance, to wait for a sponsor to
support Canada's tour of India. It is here that the individual
boards and the ICC should work together in evolving a solution.
Only with astute investment in countries with potential will we
be able to see more competitive sides emerging and making the
World Cup more attractive. Otherwise, we will have the current
situation of 14 teams divided into two pools, which I think is
getting too stale. Hypothetically, if we have a situation, where
four good teams are in a group, with all teams playing the other
just once, the competition will be at its best.
Now moving over to the Indian team, I am delighted at the way
they have bounced back after a couple of disappointing
performances. No one doubted their ability to play well; it was
their application that was questioned by many, including me.
In this happy hour, when they have almost assured themselves a
place in the Super Sixes, they must also make peace with the fact
that they will have to take the brickbats with the bouquets, for
that is the very nature of life. Unfortunately or fortunately, we
Indians are not made like the Australians or the English and are
a very emotional people. What Sourav Ganguly's men should then do
is tap into that powerful reservoir of emotional energy and bond
together. A cohesive and confident Indian team is the one we all
love to see, even if they happen to lose an odd game now and
then. I am glad that they seem to have recognised this fact and
are winning games in the most encouraging manner possible.
In contrast, look at the negative energy that is breaking up the
South African team; when the togetherness is lost, the team tends
to lose its way. That is why the basic lesson we teach the young
players in the cricketing academies around the world is to forge
and sustain the team spirit. At no level should there be a step-
motherly approach to any player or team, for it is this
togetherness and camaraderie that makes cricket such a wonderful
sport to play.
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