The latest myopic decision by the International Cricket Council (ICC) has it cutting the number of teams in the next World Cup to 10. So no more Associate countries, just an elite clique of 10 Full Members. The map below shows the countries that are members of the ICC. The patches of brown are the countries that shall play the World Cup for the next 8 years.
It seems a financially sound decision. Only let those teams play which actually bring along with them a stadium full of spectators or truckloads of sponsors. But it certainly defeats the purpose of a World Cup (i.e. bringing in teams from all around the world to one tournament to play for the ultimate honour a sport can bestow).
A minnow such as the Netherlands or Canada may never hope to win the World Cup in the near future, but for most of their players, the opportunity to play in such a tournament is sufficient motivation to improve and better themselves.
How a country can even hope to fill a stadium with fans or get sponsors if it doesn't have any opportunities to show off its talent completes the vicious circles that will be the demise of international cricket. Since Ireland exceeded expectations in the World Cup four years back, they have managed to put in place a good administrative and youth system, backed by sponsors who saw potential in the team. But now without the lucrative viewership of the World Cup, why would the sponsors care to stand by this team?
This is already a game that struggles to find fans outside the subcontinent, and is facing stiff competition from football, tennis and many American imports such as basketball and baseball. The Twenty20 form of cricket had been introduced as a means to counter this competition, and to target the more fickle and parts of the population stricken by bouts of ADHD.
But for true admirers of the game, there is no substitute for playing actual One Day internationals, and Test matches. These are the holy grail by which a player or a team judges itself. A Keiren Pollard may be a great Twenty20 player, but he can never hope to reach the cult status Brian Lara reached as a great Test player. The Twenty20 may be money, but it certainly isn't respect.