MCC calls for rethink over Olympic cricket, World Cup structure

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to rethink its decision to cut the number of teams at the Cricket World Cup to 10, while also calling for cricket to be considered for inclusion at the Olympic Games.

Cricket’s global governing body last month confirmed that the number of teams taking part in the 2019 and 2023 editions of its showpiece 50-over tournament would be cut from 14 to 10 countries.

The MCC’s World Cricket Committee has criticised the ICC’s decision to drop four teams from the competition, branding it as a “retrograde step” by the body. The committee, which consists of various former players and umpires, also said the move could harm the potential growth in cricket’s developing countries around the world.

Instead, the MCC has proposed the ICC stage a preliminary qualification round for lower ranked full member nations and the top associate nations in order to extend the length of the World Cup without damaging growth in developing markets.

“The committee believes that the organisation of a ten-team ICC Cricket World Cup for 2019 and 2023 is a retrograde step that damages the potential for growth in cricket’s developing nations,” the MCC said. “To limit future tournaments to 10 teams, albeit with qualification methods put in place, is a handbrake for the development of the sport. A preliminary qualification round could be held for the lower ranked Full Member teams and the top Associate Nations, that wouldn’t lengthen the tournament and would give more teams a chance to compete in the sport’s best 50-over competition. The committee has asked ICC to look again at its decision to limit the numbers to only 10 teams.”

Meanwhile, the MCC Committee has also called for the sport to be considered for inclusion at the Olympic Games. Cricket made its solitary Olympic appearance at the Paris 1900 Games, but many have called for the sport to be considered for a return through the more modern and shorter format of Twenty20.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has also spoken out in support of such plans, with its chairman, Colin Greaves, and chief executive, Tom Harrison, both appearing at an MCC Committee meeting this week to discuss ideas. However, the ICC is yet to fully declare its support for such an initiative.

“The committee is unanimous in its belief that every effort should be made to make cricket an Olympic sport, and urges all governing bodies around the world to get behind such a bid,” the MCC said. “The Olympics is a fundamental opportunity for cricket – in both the men’s and women’s game – and with a global reach, such a presence would expose the game positively to new markets.

“Competing in an Olympic Games would be a huge opportunity for players, a massive boost to developing cricket nations and give much greater exposure for the sport to a new audience. The committee urges the ICC Board to reconsider its position and take a decision that it believes is in the best interests of the global game. This would need to be done in the next twelve months for cricket to have a chance of being included in the 2024 Olympics.”