Double standards of ICC?
Saadi Thawfeeq - 5 April 2003
The eighth edition of cricket's World Cup has come and gone. But there are a few points from the dying embers that need to be looked into and it concerns the world ruling body for the sport, the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The performances of Kenya and Bangladesh in the competition, leaves much room for debate. Whereas Kenya, popularly referred to as the Tusker Boys at home, performed beyond expectations to go as far as the semi-finals, Bangladesh on the other hand, were totally out of depth and proved to be the top of the flops of the tournament, losing all six qualifying round games and being eliminated altogether, regardless of their status as a Test-playing nation.
The promotion of Bangladesh to Test status has become a widely disputed issue and the ICC who elevated them to that position is answerable for it.
It was during Jagmohan Dalmiya's reign as ICC president that Bangladesh was promoted to Test ranks in an arbitrary manner in 1999.
There is no doubt that cricket politics had a lot to do with it. What Bangladesh's promotion has done to international cricket is rather damaging. It has not only lowered the standard of Test cricket, but also reduced the one-day competition to a stage where any contest with Bangladesh is seen as a foregone conclusion even before the coin is spun.
Bangladesh's abysmal record speaks for itself. In the three years they have been playing Test and one-day cricket they have not justified their elevation at all.
They have an inferior Test record with 16 losses from 17 Tests (1 drawn) and their one-day international record is rather poor in comparison to Kenya's. Bangladesh has won only three out of their 67 one-day internationals for a success percentage of 4.61 whereas Kenya has registered 12 wins out of 61 matches for a success percentage of 20.33.
The premature promotion of Bangladesh to Test cricket is certain to retard Kenya's chances of obtaining similar status and making further progress as a cricket nation.
Knowing what such promotion has done to Bangladesh, the ICC will be wary of committing itself again. If at all, the ICC must review the performance of Bangladesh, and demote them from Test status until such time as they are capable of holding their own at the highest level. We have no hard feelings against Bangladesh, but are perturbed by the yardstick used by the ICC to grant them Test status.
One wonders whether the ICC has a yardstick at all for promotion of countries to the rank of Test status. For instance, Sri Lanka were given Test status 10 years too late, and Bangladesh 10 years too early. Zimbabwe's promotion to Test ranks has been justified by their performances so far, but Kenya, who have only one-day international status may become a victim of circumstances.
Does the ICC have double standards when it comes to promoting countries to play Test cricket? Otherwise, how can one justify the elevation of Bangladesh and the delay in granting Test status to Sri Lanka? Kenya find themselves in a similar situation as that befell Sri Lanka when they applied for full membership of the ICC way back in 1965.
Sri Lanka were kept waiting for 16 long years before they were finally given their due status. That too happened because of the dynamism of a government minister by the name of Gamini Dissanayake who had the guts to stand up and tell the hierarchy at Lord' s that enough is enough and, that it was time for them to get off their high horse and give what is due instead of finding flimsy excuses to keep Sri Lanka out.
What angered Sri Lanka most was the veto power that England and Australia possessed at that time which they used to good effect to put off Sri Lanka's case for full admission whenever it came up for review. Had Sri Lanka been granted Test status 10 years earlier they would have been a strong cricketing force today.
By the time the ICC finally decided to come down from its high pedestal, some of the finest cricketers the country had produced were either in the twilight of their careers or had retired.
Yet, with all the setbacks including a surreptitious attempt by 12 cricketers to play in apartheid South Africa and being subsequently banned for 25 years, Sri Lanka were able to emerge world champions in one-day cricket when they won the World Cup in 1996, 15 years after their elevation to Test status.
Kenya has shown enough of what they are capable of during the 2003 World Cup. But how long will they have to wait to get into the big league. One hopes it won't be as long as Sri Lanka.
© Daily News
Double Standards of ICC?