Over on the Sight Screen, I predicted that the Associates would be THE story of the ICC World T20 group stage.
And, well, I was right.
But not in the way I thought I would be.
The Associates (Ireland and Afghanistan) and fellow minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are THE story (so far) of the group stage, but the story is not one of David slaying Goliath or David even giving Goliath a little scare like I thought it would be, but instead it is the fact the Associates (and Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe) simply do not belong in this tournament.
They are just not good enough.
And while in some ways that really is too bad for the overall future of world cricket, it is unfortunately the hard truth.
All of world cricket was up in arms when the ICC kicked the Associates out of the 2015 50-over World Cup, but now I think we can all see that they had it right, and we all had it wrong. Having the Associates and even low level Test nations in knockout tournaments makes for far too many lopsided matches, far too many dead rubbers, and, well, makes the tournament just simply too long.
And, so, despite my initial protests at the lack of Associate inclusion in the upcoming 50-over world cup, I think the ICC should move to only allow the top eight Test nations into its knock-out tournaments.
The tournaments would be shorter and the matches more meaningful, thereby making the entire tournament more accessible to the average fan, or even the prospective fan.
For instance: ESPN here in the states has been promoting the heck of the World T20, and if by any chance an American has tuned in, all they have seen is a Test nation kicking the crap out of a Minnow, not exactly a great advertisement for the sport, in other words. But imagine if they tuned in and the first match they say was India v England, or South Africa v Sri Lanka? The difference is marked.
And so while limiting the participation of the Associates (and Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) from major tournaments might stunt the growth of the game, I think that more competitive and more accessible and more entertaining tournaments will surely make up for that lack of growth…and then some.
That’s my story, and I am sticking to it.
Now let’s hope this tournament really kicks off during the Super 8s.
And, don’t worry, I won’t be making any more predictions.