It feels like ages that I have been writing under the above mentioned topic. It all began in June 14 2018 since the FIFA world cup was inaugurated in one of the largest stadiums in the capital city of the host nation Russia. After that carnage from the host to the succeeding host of the next global event of football in the opening game, I began to imagine what makes FIFA so different from the limited imagination of ICC in cricket.
I started feeling about the contraction policy of ICC to shrink the cricketing world rather than taking it beyond the permanent 10 nations. Today’s world believes in flawless imagination that would certainly go beyond boundaries. The shrinking phenomenon would certainly take the beauty out of the Gentlemen’s game of cricket.
As for instance, let’s look into the history of the bravest team with the most peculiar fan following and their Skol chant, The Iceland football team maintained their bravery as well as solitude after they stopped 2 times world champion Argentina in a hard toil in their maiden world cup. Who would have thought that a small nation with less population would stop the once a no.1 team in the world ranking of 2007?
It was all possible because of the history of FIFA as well as its long term visionary plans. The first ever FIFA recognized game was played in 1946 AD after 16 years of their 1st International match that started something extraordinary in their challenging country. If we go through the video of FIFA TV featuring the Iceland Football team their Coach stated clearly that the team have always found themselves tougher than any other teams.
Similarly, South Korea eliminated the last edition World champion Germany out of the world cup in the league stage, the worst ever in their Football history. But an extraordinary counter attack from South Korea changed the whole scenario of the game. Who would have guessed that the World Champions of the previous edition of World Cup would get down and out by minnows of South Korea? The mighty Germans were knocked out of the world cup that paved a historic moment for two of the world’s best players to get out in an agonizing manner in the likes of Messi as well as Ronaldo got an exit tickets by France in the recently held World Cup quarterfinals.
Similarly Spain got pat on the back towards the exit gate by the host advancing for the 1st time in the modern age with an spectacular saves from the goal keeper Igor Akinfeev who turned out to be the most popular thing in Russia today with the magic of his boot against the Pass wizards of Spain. And now currently having watched the disciplined Japan nearly shocked Belgium who until the day looked like lifting the world cup 2018 in Russia. It’s getting a lot more football than a cricketing thing here in my writings but take a moment to think how could we be able to see something like Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Nepal, Hong Kong, UAE come close like the low rank teams in football are making it repeatedly in this round of 16 in the ongoing World Cup 2018 in Russia?
Well, it all comes to the same point from where I started elaborating the pages of this article. The expansion theory of FIFA right from 2013 when the UEFA president Michel Platini proposed that the world cup must be expanded from 32 to 40 teams right now in 2018 but due to the preparation that already begun in Russia by then for 32 teams it was compelled to have just 32 teams but it definitely will get a redefinition with the world cup in 2026 in North America that would feature 48 nations thriving to make a mark in the largest Global events of the future.
It all starts with the procedures of the real process to let in as many teams as possible. Let’s look into the qualification process that FIFA designed for this world cup which is turning out to be the best World cup for ages. I thought to bring the both qualification process of Cricket as well as Football World cup in a parallel manner. You would be amazed to know that the qualifier for Football World cup 2018 featured 210 teams that played 872 matches over two years period of time. The tournaments were organized by 6 Confederations of FIFA which itself is being working as a breach for small and upcoming nations to dream beyond the extreme.
Where Cricketing World is heading?
Whereas in Cricket, it’s all ICC could manage by its reach over the broadcasters, sponsors, advertisers as well as viewers in limited geography of the world. The World cup qualifier 2018 was merely a formality with no live broadcast of such breath taking as well as once in a lifetime experienced matches as described by the man who in himself is an Associate cricket yellow page with some beautiful articles as “The painfully small margins in Associate Cricket” & “The Cardiac Kids from Nepal” that drove a lot of attention to the ignored teams by ICC itself. Although it just featured 10 teams it was one of the best ICC tournaments that had all the dramas from Day 1 until the day tournament ended.
A tournament like qualifier for the penultimate tournament of cricket clearly depicts a limited mindset with the predefined vision of the extreme contraction of cricket in the world. It is done none other than ICC itself as it sees only the viewers, broadcasters as well as investors in India, Australia, England, South Africa and the rest 3 fixed nations that should never compete to fix a spot in the major tournaments. We as an analyst as well as viewers of an unknown world in cricket sometimes have the thought in mind that if Virat Kohli or even the rising star like Prithvi Shaw in Indian Cricket had the same procedures to get qualified for the major tournaments and ranking as an Associate or emerging nations does, would they score at the same rate as they are doing currently? Every game for a rising as well as associate nation is a world cup knock out game with more rest days than game days for the minnows.
The boundary ropes coming in, the format being shorten, broadcasters, multinationals, paid advertizing posts going viral in the social Medias for the superstars of cricket, a fear in mind must be always there for someone who reads the game every day that the cricketing world is both shrinking as well as sinking in a deep hole. The FIFA World Cup or even the basic tournaments are helping countries to add up to their GDP’s. FIFA is binding the world together whereas ICC is taking the world apart from each other which is uttering impossible case.
We are in 2018 where digital world is ruling over people’s mind. Facebook itself has 2.2 billion monthly active users which is 30.55% of the whole world population. The world is connected and together the world is sharing each other’s information via the largest social media site with a global penetration of 22.9%.
So how could ICC not see these huge benefits for each of its product going global with maximum reach? If more teams are included in the mega events like world cup more dreams, passion as well as respect for the game would increase. With the world business as well as sports going hand in hand and moving forward ICC has stuck itself to such a paralyzed zone where it could sense the cricketing world needing changes but could just limit the dreams of individuals to a 10 team world cup that is taking the entire craze and following away from the cricketing world.
Can you hear the alarm clock?
It’s good to sleep when you work hard and great ,to create the entire globe ass a single nation but ICC now in deep sleep with so little done in the most respected sports after football must wake up to this alarm clock set in the third world that has a louder voice with reverberation such as “Sachin” “Sachin” that was also echoed in the wall of this part with similar enthusiasm and respect as it is done in a small cricketing world that is being made way too smaller every 4 years with short term planning and contracting vision of the responsible executive bodies of The International Cricket Council.
It’s time to wake up and stay awake until a long term plan is made to extent it’s ground until the nations like Senegal, Zambia as well as Nigeria where Cricket is just a game not for the people of the mentioned region would shout out loud whenever Virat or Prithvi Shaw would make remarkable contributions with their bat and tear apart all the bowlers in the African backyard. Till then, just make the governing body to wake up from a day dream that is taking Cricket not even to half of the world and people still believing in that part it to be the game of fools, played by foolish and watched by the most foolish.
Take the biopic of Mahendra Singh Dhoni or book of Sachin Tendulkar in these parts to show the value and purity of a mere game of cricket that bound a nation of billions by making a common mans their idols and taking their countries to the highest level in sports all because of cricket. It’s time to move on and please do Wake up on time because time in itself is the most powerful phenomenon. So, stop snoozing the destined alarm otherwise it may be too little too late for ICC even to realize where did this all go wrong.