Yes, there are countries from all over the world playing cricket in the top-tier as well as associate and non-associate countries playing in various world groups. Yet, none of these “minor” teams generate as much excitement or passion in their own countries or in the media as when the top teams play each other.
I am longing for the day where we will see associate and non-associate countries such as Afghanistan, Ireland, Canada, USA, Namibia and even Argentina, Belgium and China play cricket with the big boys in at least the 20-20 format, if not in ODIs, fairly regularly.
What if all the full member countries are made to play against 2 or 3 associate countries each year as part of the so called ICC “Future Tours Programme” or FTP? Admittedly they will not be money spinners, but in terms of exposure for the game and the publicity it can generate in those countries, wouldn’t that simply outweigh the financial gains?
Purely hypothetical of course, but how much more fun and excitement would there be to see 200-odd countries having to qualify in order to play in the cricket world cup, similar to soccer and to a lesser degree, rugby? No automatic entry, unless you’re hosting the tournament, for obvious reasons. Imagine the passion for the sport and the support this would generate in all those countries? We might finally bridge the gap between the top-tier countries and the rest…
By the way, kudos to Afghanistan who had to overcome massive challenges and are yet able to qualify for and compete in the Asia Cup which is taking place at the moment and for also qualifying for the world cup next year.