Opinion: A watered-down World Cup, is this what cricket fans waited for since four years?

For any sport, even for the least known ones, World Cup is the biggest stage. At the World Cups, both the players and the authoritative bodies of respective sports give it all out to show just how good they can be.

The World Cup is not only a platform for which the players wait for a long period of time to showcase their talent, but it is also an event using which the respective bodies of different sports promote their product and expand it on an international level. One fine example of this is the football’s World Cup for which people from even non-participating countries wait with an equal anticipation and excitement. A huge share of credit for this goes to how FIFA conducts the entire tournament and caters it to the world wide audience.

In compete contrast to FIFA, we the cricket lovers have ICC, a body that decided to put its biggest tournament that takes place once in a four year, in the peak month of an English monsoon. I mean what could be a worse idea than this? Having the World Cup in Antarctica?

Here I’m not even sure whether the ICC actually regards the world cup as its biggest tournament, since the preparations and arrangements don’t seem to be suggesting so at all. The very reason for why this World Cup is taking place in the peak of an English monsoon and not in pleasing weather of an English summer also indicates that maybe for ICC and certainly for the ECB, World Cup is not the first priority at all.

The World Cup is being played in the rainy month of June, only because Ashes series is slated to take place in August of this year in England. Now with all due respect to the traditions and sentiments associated with Ashes, a contest that predates both the world cup and the ICC itself, it still is a matter between two countries only. While we can surely enjoy the pure cricketing spectacle that Ashes is, as we do, we can’t participate in it.

And so it is my firm belief that the ICC shouldn’t have taken the risk of holding the World Cup in the month of June in UK. Why can’t we have a World Cup in West indies? I mean I would prefer staying up whole nights to watch nail-biting contests of cricket instead of wasting afternoons watching whole stadiums turn into swimming pools, live on paid television.

For the ECB on the other hand, it is perfectly understandable and justifiable if they regard Ashes as a bigger priority than the World Cup. But then they shouldn’t have gone forward to bid for it either and give us a watered-down tournament in the name of World Cup, like they literally have done. I’m not pulling any punches here, the England Cricket Board is guilty of cheating cricket fans across the world. And had this been any other sport, the host nation would have been punished by the global governing body for such poor preparations.

Another problem that I’ve had with this year’s World Cup from the get go is the number of participating nations. Body of every sport around the world is trying to expand their game and add more teams to their World Cups. The ICC on the other hand is doing just the opposite. In 2007, there were 16 teams. This came down to 14 in 2011 and 2015, and now to 10. At the time when this decision of further cutting the number of teams playing the World Cup was taken, there were reports that it was forced by some Indian broadcasters who wanted more India matches in the tournament. If there’s any truth to it, there can’t be anything more shameful than this for us as Indian cricket fans. What’s more shameful is that ICC actually bowed down before the blackmails of some broadcaster and deprived teams like Zimbabwe, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, etc, their chance at the grandest stage.

Nevertheless, the ICC had justified its decision of reducing teams in the World Cup saying that they want to make the tournament more competitive. After having three full matches washed out and couple of games and their results getting drastically affected due to rain, one can only wonder what competitiveness ICC was talking about.

Things appear even more frustrating when you realise that this is what the ICC had been preparing for since past four years. And this is a World Cup in which five out of total ten teams are from the Indian subcontinent alone. Even Kabaddi world cup gets a better representation than this.

There’s no compulsion on the ICC to organise a world cup half-heartedly, they can just drop the tournament altogether if they want to. But if its a World Cup, it must feel like one.