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World of hope for Irish as ICC chief says 2023 format may be up for debate


By Ian Callender

ICC chief executive Dave Richardson has pleaded for next year's 10-team World Cup to "be given a chance" but said that although committed to the same format in 2023, that it can be "looked at".

In an exclusive interview, after the World Cup qualifying tournament finished in Harare on Sunday - with Ireland and William Porterfield failing to reach the finals - Richardson also said that Twenty20 cricket is now the fastest growing sport in the world and it is set to replace the (50-over) Champions Trophy as teams can be more competitive in the shortest format.

The supremo of world cricket arrived in Zimbabwe to make the post-tournament presentations and was forced to listen to the Player of the Tournament, Zimbabwe's Sikander Raza, launch a tirade against ICC and the decision to exclude everyone outside the top 10 from the next World Cup.

Richardson's response was to defend the competitiveness of all the ICC's events.

"What I like about these tournaments, and we saw it last month at World Cricket League Division 2 as well, is how competitive they are. Every match means so much, and to see the emotion of the players who get through or just miss out, in a way that is what sport's all about, it's great to see," he said.

"But commiserations to the likes of Ireland, Scotland and Zimbabwe who were basically one win away. But there will be opportunities to come.

"The world is moving the T20 way and we are looking at moving to two T20s in a four-year cycle, maybe as soon as the next Champions Trophy (scheduled for 2021) and swapping that for a World T20 which will give an extra opportunity in Australia (in 2020) and an immediate follow-up (in 2022).

"That's where the opportunities lie, that's where it is easier to be competitive, that's where the game is growing in the likes of Scotland, Netherlands, USA, Canada, Nepal and UAE. T20 is what we are looking to use."

Asked if the World T20 was set to supersede the ICC World Cup in terms of importance, Richardson said there was room for all three formats.

"The World Cup is the main event because of the historical significance and length of the tournament, but we want to move to a stage where the Test Championship final is the pinnacle event for Test matches, the World Cup is the pinnacle for the 50-over format and with all 105 members getting T20I status the T20 World Cup, as we will call it, is the pinnacle in the T20. And there is no doubt that T20 is the fastest growing sport in the world and that's the way to go."

That will be no consolation to those who want an expanded 50-over event but, although the 2023 edition is down for another 10-team World Cup, Richardson did not say it was a definite.

"At this stage, 2023 is a 10-team event but as we grow the number of competitive teams in 50-over cricket we can look at things like that," he said.

"But the 1992 World Cup was nine teams playing everybody and it's said that was the best World Cup, where every match counted and it was competitive throughout, so let's give the 10-team World Cup a chance."

The ICC chief also indicated the next World Cup Qualifiers would be televised in full, after criticism that only two group games and the Super Six games were broadcast this time.

"We want to grow the number of fans worldwide, and we have to have cricket which says that was a great event," said Richardson. "This tournament was a tremendous example, we broadcast more matches than the previous one and in future all matches will have to be broadcast."

For now, the waiting game continues and while every other sport expands the number of teams in its premier event, the ICC Cricket World Cup regresses all in the name of "competitiveness" - and nothing to do with ensuring India, the kingmakers, have at least nine matches. The ICC would never admit that!

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