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ICC discusses 16-team 2007 World Cup
- BCCI wants Player Terms redrawn for ’04 Champions Trophy

Mumbai: Despite criticism over the quality of some matches, featuring the lowly-ranked teams in this year’s World Cup, the International Cricket Council (ICC) seems inclined to add two more ‘emerging nations’ in the tournament’s 2007 edition in the West Indies.

“Nothing has been finalised, but there is much support for a 16-team World Cup in four years’ time... It’s another matter that the quality may well suffer,” well-placed sources told The Telegraph on Thursday evening, at the end of Day I of the Cricket Committee-Management meeting.

Apparently, those in favour of adding ‘emerging nations’ feel that the development programme and the heavy funding won’t mean anything if the teams don’t get exposure at the highest level. But, clearly, that’s just one side of the coin...

If a 16-team tournament gets the nod, we will have the Super Eight stage instead of the Super Six and logistics could become a bigger headache. Incidentally, the ICC is “open” to the idea of staging “a few games” in Canada. That goes with the globalisation bit.

As expected, discussions on the next World Cup took up much time, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had the opportunity to insist on the contentious Player Terms being redrawn for the 2004 Champions Trophy (England).

One understands a top BCCI functionary and a senior ICC official will “thrash things out.” The BCCI has also made it clear that the proposed Super Series (set to be introduced from 2005) should not have the controversy-sparking Player Terms.

Towards the end of the day, the issue of “recognising” the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (Fica) came up for discussion. Irrespective of the past, a “majority” of the Test-playing nations have said they have “no problems” in dealing with that body.

India’s stand is very different but, it seems, Fica will now be more acceptable. At this moment, though, it’s a “sensitive” issue.

The meeting concludes on Friday afternoon. Thereafter, continuing with the parleys-on- the-sidelines will take up all of ICC chief Ehsan Mani’s time. In any case, president Jagmohan Dalmiya has already “reminded” him about the BCCI’s stand on the guarantee money for this year’s World Cup being withheld.

Dalmiya is expected to meet Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Rameez Raja as well. It wasn’t for any great length of time, but Rameez and BCCI secretary S.K.Nair — both of whom are delegates at the two-day meeting — did have a tete-a-tete on Thursday itself.

“I’ve been assured that everything points to Team India being allowed to tour Pakistan next February,” Rameez, a former captain, informed.

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