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INTERVIEW - 10-Team World Cup Short-sighted and Needs to be Changed Quickly: Cricket Ireland CEO

Cricket in Ireland, similar to England, is coming out of hibernation slowly, and more than five months away from the sport at all levels has, expectedly, had its effects.

Abhimanyu Sen |July 30, 2020, 3:30 PM IST
INTERVIEW - 10-Team World Cup Short-sighted and Needs to be Changed Quickly: Cricket Ireland CEO

When international cricket returned after the hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic with West Indies visiting England for a Test series; among the most discussed issues were the arrangements for the bio-secure bubble. Apart from fast bowler Jofra Archer, who went on a drive-about on the south coast, all present were rather comfortable with their lives in the bubble.

For the England cricket team, the lifestyle will continue, as Ireland led by Andy Balbirnie has come calling for the first set of white-ball matches since March. This series also marks the beginning of the ICC Super League, which is a route to qualification for the 2023 ODI World Cup, where there will be ten teams – something that puts Ireland, one of the newest full members, in a rather prickly situation.

“Look, it's been very tough. But it's not just those who are working with cricket boards. You know, it's our fans. It's our clubs. It's everyone who's been denied the opportunity to watch the game that they love,” Warren Deutrom, CEO of Cricket Ireland, told CricketNext.

“We're very fortunate to be probably the very first Irish international sports team out there actually participating in international sports. We're lucky to be among the very first to be visible out there.”

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“We can start back out again… because of the exceptional arrangements that the ECB have put in place to try and safeguard the environment in which the players in the squad can feel safe.”

“I think for everyone in the Irish cricket community, to see one of their teams out there on TV competing is going to give everyone, I suppose, not just the reality, but also just that sense of optimism.”

England vs Ireland ODI Series Full Coverage

Ireland reported its first set of positive COVID-19 cases in the last week of February, and more than four months later their caseload stands in excess of 25,000, which includes 1,764 deaths.

Cricket in Ireland, similar to England, is coming out of hibernation slowly, and more than five months away from the sport at all levels has, expectedly, had its effects.

“From a business perspective, we've dropped. For the very first time last year we broke the 10 million euro barrier in terms of our turnover. We're probably going to drop to about six, maybe six and a half this year, which is a gargantuan drop!”

Nonetheless, lady luck did favour the Men in Green in terms of sponsorship as Deutrom explains that loyalty has really been the essence of their relationships.

“We have found that sponsors have been incredibly loyal to us and that's really given us a great sense of hope about number one - the quality of the relationships that we have; and number two - the value that they see in having a real long-term relationship.”

“We can probably count ourselves lucky that we're having any cricket, not just for the sport, not just for the business, but it's also important for the players to know that they have got some cricket to look forward to.”

While Ireland will play the ODI World Champions England, the pandemic has meant they have lost out on series' against Pakistan and New Zealand, while the games against fellow 2017 full membership inductees Afghanistan have been postponed till early next year.

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When quizzed about their expectations from the ICC after the unwanted stoppage in the regular fare, Deutrom said he expects better funding in the next media rights cycle. Currently, the media rights are held by Star India up until the 2023 ODI World Cup in India and were acquired in 2014 for a period of eight years.

“To ICC, our strong hope and certainly our expectation is that by the time we get to the next rights cycle, which will start sometime in 2023, we're going to begin to be funded much more equally with the other full members. That's what we believe is truly an expectation.”

Deutrom however urges and hopes the ICC will afford more chances of giant killings at the ODI World Cups, and increase the number of teams from 10.

“I strongly believe that the 50 over World Cup has too few teams. We have 12 full members and we have 10 teams in the 50 over the World Cup. Somehow it doesn't seem right to me that we have more teams capable of playing the five day game than are worthy of being on the 50 over showcase.”

“I don't think there is any incentive now for associate teams to even want to play 50 over cricket. I think they're now going to prefer 20 over cricket, simply because there's no chance now for those teams to participate in the World Cup. If they can't get to the World Cup, then what is the point of playing it? It is too lengthy a format, and it's expensive,” Deutrom explains.

“We think about Ireland’s performances in the 2007 World Cup beating Pakistan as similar to Zimbabwe beating Bangladesh. We think about that famous victory against England in 2011. This is evidence of associate teams being able to compete on the world stage. Think about what Afghanistan achieved when it was an associate member as well.”

“I think this is something which is desperately short sighted, and I think is something which needs to be changed as quickly as possible, preferably in time for the 2023 World Cup.”

For Ireland, the immediate agenda is to strike telling blows against the World Champions England in their own backyard in the Super League.

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 Australia 3028 116
2 New Zealand 2406 115
3 India 3085 114
4 England 3882 105
5 Sri Lanka 2454 91
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5093 127
2 India 5819 119
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 South Africa 3345 108
5 Australia 3518 107
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 Australia 5285 278
2 England 4564 268
3 India 9319 266
4 Pakistan 5470 260
5 South Africa 4380 258
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