Oranje Hope For The Minnows, As Dutch Run England Close. And Its Not Soccer!
Most Indians like me will find the name tough to pronounce. Ryan is fine, but ten Doeschate? A real tongue twister for most of us, even as it was a very popular name all of last evening in India and is likely to be pronounced more often, at least during the next week or two.
Thanks to this man's ton and two wickets, the Dutch ran England very close. 292 is not a score that England expected to chase; nor did they ever think that they would have some nervous moments while chasing or while fielding. Even as England didn't seem to be on top of their game, the Dutch were out to score a few points for the minnows, ask a few questions of the ICC.
The ICC's decision to restrict the world cup to ten full member nations has sparked off protests, debates and if their is heartburn in some quarters, it is justified to some extent. If the Kenyans opener for the minnows was a vindication of the ICC stand, the Dutch performance was a strong rejoinder. It might have been built around one man, but it was a very strong advocacy of the minnows' cause.
The minnows certainly have a case. Kenya matched India very strongly in the 2003 semifinal in South Africa, and then, they declined. Sandeep Patil, former India player and the coach of that Kenyan side, is right when he says that the ICC should have given the Kenyans some games after that performance, invested in their cricket and its development program, but the ICC it seems was fighting some other battles, some of them rather political in nature.
In all, the ICC has some 105 members. 10 full, 35 associate and 60 affiliate. One can assume, therefore, that some level of cricket is being played, and is probably prospering in these 105 countries, of which 95 are not playing test cricket or big-ticket ODI/T20 games. Why is it that at least 15 or 20 of these countries can't come up to scratch? Why is it that a game that's about 150-years-old can only find decent performers in a mere 10 countries? Should ICC be blamed or should we all stand in ovation for ensuring that we don't see one-sided games in the 2015 edition?
As a comparison, let's look at FIFA. Soccer is played by a larger number of countries, 175 or so. But then, the soccer world cup manages to find 32 countries to take the field every four years. It's high-octane soccer all the way and one-sided games are a rarity.
How does FIFA do it? How have they done so for such a long time? How is it that people across the world develop soccer skills easily? Is cricket a more difficult and more complicated game? Or has ICC missed a trick?
I find it ridiculous when I see experts recommending that they bring in new nations via the T20 route. Its the same experts who say that unless you play the longer version of the game, you can't really develop the correct skills. If its about money, and ICC surely has tons of it, then the thinking deserves all applause and support. But if its about skills, if its about developing the game, then there is a question mark over such experts.
So, is the ICC listening? Can they get the minnows' tag off a few countries? Or will they create more Kenyas?
We are waiting.
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