The ongoing Rugby World Cup is mega-tournament. 20 teams divided in four ‘pools’ are battling it out for the top spot. Among the major happenings of the Cup is the defeat of heavy-weights South Africa in the hands of of 13th placed minnows Japan. The 34-32 score line was a never-before-imagined success for the emerging team.This surely has given their morale a huge boost.
But compare the Rugby World Cup with the newly-structured Cricket world Cup — a 10 tournament with virtually no new faces.Such upsets would be a far cry in the Cricket World Cup as 13th-placed team will most probably not be making it to the Cup. The ICC have blamed lack of competitiveness for the decision, but one could as well argue that competitiveness will not be achieved through lack of exposure. This will hinder the ambitious determinations of Associates. Whereas, a young athlete from the Netherlands could have joined the sport with the dream of playing a World Cup, it surely is not happening in the present scenario. The ICC Champions Trophy is already an existing tournament where the eight top-ranked are eligible to participate, therefore rendering the decision to make the World Cup a 10 team affair a bit illogical.
Also the ‘Big 3’ concept is pretty much plaguing the sport. All ICC events till 2023 are to hosted by the trio of India, England, and Australia. This may indeed come as a financial blow to the other boards.
The International Rugby Federation ( IRB ) have taken their Rugby 7s to the Olympics. This not only gives weaker teams to showcase their talent, but also creates the scope for Rugby as a sport to grow. But officials in the ICC are admittedly opposed to the idea of seeing cricket as an Olympic sport (one asks, why?). An Olympic participation will not only ensure a larger audience-base but it will also secure better government funding of the boards in charge. Countries like China and the USA, which invest so heavily in the Olympics, will have an opportunity to rise to great heights in the sport. There is some gossip about cricket being pushed for an inclusion in the 2024 Olympics, but one can not be totally sure.
So, hoping that the ICC can learn a few lessons from this enormously successful tournament, I end my first blog here.
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