Don`t take `world` out of World Cup, says Swann

Updated: Feb 16, 2011, 16:28 PM IST

London: England off-spinner Graeme Swann has urged officials "not to take the world out of the World Cup," amidst fears the tournament could become a `closed shop` for cricket`s elite nations.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) are trying to slim down the existing 14-team tournament, which this year in the sub-continent will stretch to a stamina-sapping six weeks, to a 10-team contest in 2015.

But as there are 10 Test playing countries, the associates or second-tier sides believe they will be frozen out as none of the `big boys` will accept a change to a system where they all now qualify as of right for the World Cup.

While there have been some hugely lopsided contests down the years, there have also been some memorable `giantkillings`.

The 2007 World Cup saw Ireland beat Pakistan while four years previously Kenya made it through to the semi-finals.

And England off-spinner Swann, in an interview with the March edition of the Wisden Cricketer magazine," said: "Of course the emerging nations should stay in it.”

"Why would you want to take the world out of the World Cup? Shocks can happen," he added.

His words were backed up by several other Test players, with South Africa`s AB de Villiers saying conditions at this edition, which is being staged in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, could favour the associates.

"Playing on the subcontinent levels things out and they can be harder than the best teams because their bowlers are slower and it makes it tough for batsmen," he said.

New Zealand star Brendon McCullum added the fear of being on the wrong end of an upset added an extra-dimension to the World Cup.

"It`s a little bit scary actually. All you think about is playing the knockouts, winning the big games. But to be part of the big moments you`ve got to overcome the banana-skin games."

Veteran Kenya batsman Steve Tikolo said the World Cup remained vital for the development of associate nation cricket: "The World Cup offers us the chance to test ourselves against the Test nations which we rarely do nowadays."

The ICC have said they`ve still to decide on qualification procedures for the 2015 World Cup and, in what appears to be an attempt to placate the associates, the tier below the Test elite, announced plans to expand the World Twenty20 to 16 teams.

"How the 10 members are to be determined is still to be decided," insisted David Richardson, the ICC`s general manager for cricket.

"It could be the full members only but it could be not", former South Africa wicketkeeper Richardson added.