It’s perhaps an irony that the decision by the International Cricket Council to curtail the ODI World Cup to just 10 teams was taken soon after the conclusion of the 2011 World Cup in India, an event that handed Ireland one of its greatest victories – against England in Bengaluru.
The decision meant it became more difficult for teams not part of the elite group to participate. Warren Deutrom, CEO, Cricket Ireland, was pleased after the ICC finally decided to expand the World Cup to make it more global; 14 teams will now participate from 2027 onwards.
“We’re delighted at the decision to restore the event to 14 teams,” Deutrom told Sportstar.
“It is something that Ireland has led on among the [ICC] members, and we believe that the decision to ensure that the Associate world has the opportunity to participate at the sport’s premier showcase is absolutely right for the long-term health of the game, and the ODI format as a whole,” he said.
Some of Ireland’s best moments in cricket have come in World Cups. Deutrom, in office since December 2006, oversaw the team’s progress to the Super Eight at the expense of Pakistan in 2007, the defeat of England in 2011, and spirited performance in 2015. It had to come through a rigorous selection process – via the 2018 World Cup Qualifier – to make it to the 2019 World Cup, but narrowly lost out to Afghanistan.
“For us, the World Cup holds a special place as the vehicle for putting Irish cricket on the map and helped enormously drive the growing popularity of the sport on our shores. Of course, we’re not guaranteed to participate in future, but the realistic opportunity to do so will surely play a part in inspiring young Irish players to take up the sport and emulate the heroes of 2007, 2011 and 2015,” Deutrom said.
Kevin O’Brien of Ireland celebrates with Niall O’Brien at the end of the 2011 ICC World Cup Group B match between England and Ireland at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, India. – Getty Images
Need for support
Between these marquee events, though, regular fixtures against top international teams and better funding, among other things, are required to ensure a steady climb. Many full-member nations continue to struggle financially and are more vulnerable during crises like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Deutrom outlined ways by which the ICC could support the less wealthy nations.
“The mechanisms to do this are both direct and indirect. Indirectly would include the broader playing opportunities for members to participate on the world stage in men’s and women’s cricket, which in turn help unlock commercial and Government support back home – we are a recent good example of that in the last 10-15 years. Elsewhere, ICC and the members made some excellent decisions in recent years to ensure that the objective to promote context in international competition was supported by the World Cup Super League, and World Test Championship, which provided certainty of scheduling to members to develop domestic commercial sustainability.”
A better distribution of ICC’s revenue is one of the more direct ways to extend support, felt Deutrom.
“ICC has set up a Member Support Fund to which members can apply to defray additional costs and restore revenue lost during the pandemic, while a number of members will be advocating strongly that it is important to revisit the ICC member distribution to ensure that members can be more competitive on the world stage. We believe there’s an appreciation of this argument and we remain hopeful that the current distribution might be revisited when it’s next considered,” he said.
What were some of the benefits accrued to Ireland since it was made a full member in 2017?
“There are numerous benefits, including being in the Future Tours Programme with more matches against the major nations, ability to negotiate our first-ever multi-year broadcast agreement, and better support from Government (including funding support towards our first contracts for women cricketers). We have also completed Stage 1 of a new High-Performance Centre,” Deutrom replied.