Even though the associate nations have been given a chance in the few earlier ICC World Cups as well, it is hard to see them often playing and challenging with the other test playing sides. There are huge gaps between their appearances, which is consistent in the World Cups, but are not playing enough cricket of any format, either the medium length ODIs (One Day Internationals) or the shorter form of T20s (Twenty 20) matches against the test players. There are currently 10 test playing nations that consistently play all the three forms of the cricket and they are England, South Africa, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, West Indies, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. So, one can comfortably state that the whole of the cricketing world is divided into the two huge segments, one with the test playing sides that get to play most of the time in the year and the associates that are confined to certain tournaments, which do not have the international status. This leads to the lack of enough confidence in the players, who do not get a chance to play more often.
With their irregular appearances in front of the global cricket audiences, it is tough for them to sustain their performances and though they are able to pull out a few surprises and win against the test-playing nations, they are not able to show the consistency there. ICC chief executive David Richardson has conveyed that is it hard to see the associate nations, such as in the case of the Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland and UAE to get more games throughout the year. Since Ireland and Afghanistan have been leading in terms of the performances and consistency for many years now, their current key focus would be to be in the top eight and get a chance to play the 2019 World Cup in England. Mr. Richardson has expressed his opinion that he believes that the test playing nations would be more open and willing to play against the associates to give them the necessary space in the international arena, even between the World Cups.
Despite great performances by the associates, they are still considered to be minnows in the World Cup when they are playing against the test players, since they may buckle down to pressure in the critical match situations. With lots of consistent exposure to the international audiences and the arena by the test playing nations, even those in the bottom rung, like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are able to perform well in the huge tournaments. This is purely because they tend to play more cricket throughout the year and the squad is well formed and only a few members would be changed occasionally. However, the chief executive has expressed that there is no chance to guarantee them matches throughout the year and it is up to the boards to consider going and playing against these associate nations. Everybody is having their fingers crossed for this World Cup to see if the so-called minnows are able to pull more surprises this time around.
September 29, 2022
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