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Move to have 16 teams for 2007
- ICC plans Super Series launch in South Africa in September 2005

Mumbai: The idea needs to be “further discussed” and, more important, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) Executive Board must give the green signal but, otherwise, the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies will be a 16-team affair.

That the ICC was actually moving towards adding two more emerging nations was reported in Friday’s edition of The Telegraph. The announcement, however, came at a Media conference marking the end of the two-day Cricket Committee-Management meeting at the CCI here.

As of now, instead of three, there will then be five qualifiers from the ICC Trophy.

According to the proposal, the 16 teams will be divided into four groups and the top two from each will move into the Super Eight stage. Two groups will then be drawn and, thereafter, will come the semi-finals and final.

“We are looking at reducing the number of matches and cutting the duration of the tournament... In fact, our aim is to finish it in 40 days, which is considerably less than the time taken to complete this year’s World Cup,” informed chief executive Malcolm Speed.

To reduce the logistics headache, the ICC intends to limit the 2007 edition to seven/eight islands. For instance, all fixtures in a group will be completed on one island. The scenario won’t be any different in the Super Eight stage.

Going by what Speed and president Ehsan Mani said, the discussion-stage should be completed by end-October, when the all-powerful Executive Board meets in Barbados.

The other decisions, reached over the past two days, include:

Volume of international cricket: The ICC has renewed its commitment to looking at ways of “improving” the existing structure. A study is underway, but that may not be completed before next June.

Recognising player bodies: The ICC will, through the Federation of International Crickters’ Association (Fica), deal with bodies which have the recognition of their home board. If that hasn’t been granted, the ICC will interact only with the board(s) in question. For good measure, Speed clarified that the ICC’s dealings will be by way of “consultations.” That, too, on well-defined “common player issues.” For its part, the ICC won’t recommend hat all boards recognise player bodies. Moreover, no interaction with Fica will concern monetary issues.

Illegal bowling action: The existing two-stage procedure for corrective measures will continue as the Cricket Committee-Playing’s call for eliminating the home board’s involvement (stage-I) was rejected. Incidentally, that committee is chaired by Sunil Gavaskar.

Reviewing the umpiring standards: Speed confessed that the ICC expected the Elite Panel (introduced from April 2002) to perform better. Now, a provision has been made to allow boards to nominate more than two umpires on the International Panel which is a step lower than the Elite ‘club’.

Additionally, the London-based “independent assessor,” Tony Crafter, will have two colleagues to share the workload of monitoring standards. Then, the umpires will have a ‘coach’ — essentially a high-performance manager. As announced, the umpires have been given more time to lodge complaints with the Match Referee. Significantly, Srinivas Venkatraghavan and David Shepherd’s ‘performance’ in the Antigua Test, earlier this year, got “downgraded” as they didn’t initiate proceedings against Glenn McGrath and Ramnaresh Sarwan.

Limits on the use of technology: Speed emphasised the ICC had no plans of introducing “new technology.” As for the experiment (in the UK and South Africa) with white lines to “guide” the umpires in reaching LBW decisions and the ear-pieces wired to the stump microphone, the ICC won’t take any decision till the “results” have been analysed.

The Super Series, set for a 2005 launch: The ICC is “moving” towards introducing the Best versus the Rest games — one Test and three ODIs — but quite a few things need to be sorted out. For one, the Player Terms and financial ramifications... The ICC, though, has decided edition No.1 will be hosted by South Africa in the month of September.

 

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