Clarke backs inclusion of minnows at world stage

Sydney: Newly appointed Australian captain Michael Clarke came out in support of retaining the minnows at the World Cup, a view that is in contradiction with Ricky Ponting`s call to limit the teams at the big stage.

Clarke was at odds with his predecessor while speaking in favour of minnows, who are likely to be axed from the World Cup if the tournament`s size was altered.

Talking to the reporters before leaving for Bangladesh, Clarke said, "I really enjoy seeing the minnow teams getting an opportunity to be honest, I guess it`s up to the ICC to work out whatever they think is in the betterment of the game, obviously that`s their priority."

Ponting, who stepped down as Australian captain last week, had earlier said that a balance had to be struck between encouraging the growth of the game and improving the quality of the World Cup competition.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is expected to take a decision in this regard when its executive board meets in Mumbai later today.

ICC Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat has been consistently voicing to cull the number of countries from 14 to 10 for the next edition in Australia and New Zealand.

The World Cup format was criticised as tediously drawn out during the group stages, which saw the cricketing extravaganza extending to six weeks before coming to an end at Mumbai`s Wankhede Stadium with the co-hosts India lifting the coveted trophy.

The Aussie skipper agreed that the structure could be improved, but said that shouldn`t necessarily be at the expense of minnows.

"The two World Cups I`ve been involved in have been fantastic," the captain said.

"It certainly does feel between games like you have a long period when you`ve got six or seven days between games, but I`ve enjoyed seeing all the minnow teams play.”

"We`ve seen throughout this World Cup there was a few upsets where there was some great cricket played," he added.

Ireland, who made it to the super eight of the previous edition beating Pakistan, once again proved their worth during the current event when they toppled England with a superb run-chase.

The idea of downsizing the current list will, however, mean that team`s from countries other than the 10 full-member nations of the ICC would struggle to qualify for the quadrennial event.


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