Hamilton, New Zealand: Ireland wants to deliver an emphatic message to the International Cricket Council when it plays World Cup champion India in a Pool B match on Tuesday.
India is unbeaten in four matches and has already qualified for the quarterfinals, while Ireland has won three of its four matches and needs a point from its last two matches to press its claim to a place in the final eight.
Ireland has shown its ability to embarrass test-ranked teams by beating Pakistan, Bangladesh and England at previous World Cups and the West Indies and Zimbabwe in this tournament. It could cause some embarrassment to the ICC if it was to beat India on Tuesday, or if it qualifies for the quarterfinals, by allowing that achievement tacitly to condemn a decision to cut future World Cups to 10 teams.
Cricket's international governing body has indicated it will alter the format of future tournaments, cutting the field from 14 to 10 teams and excluding at least some of the Associate — or second-tier — teams currently competing in Australia and New Zealand. Captains of the second-tier nations have been outspoken in their condemnation of that plan but, after Ireland's recent successes, the words of its captain, William Porterfield, might carry farthest and be heard loudest.
Porterfield spoke Monday of the huge boost the marginalized sport of cricket in Ireland had received from his team's performances over the past three weeks. He criticized the "discriminatory" mentality of the cricket administration that classifies countries as full and associate members, and asked how cricket can grow if it shuns its developing nations.
"Firstly it's a tag I don't like ... associates," Porterfield said, squaring his shoulders and leaning closer to the microphone at a news conference Monday. "I don't think there's any reason for teams to be discriminated against or treated any differently or to put that kind of tags on us.
"As far as I'm concerned there's a ranking system in place and that's where we're at."
The top teams have the elite, test ranking, meaning they play five-day test-match cricket, the longest form of the game. That's on top of the one-day internationals and the Twenty20 internationals. There hasn't been a lot of change among the test nations in the last 20 years, with Zimbabwe and Bangladesh the last two countries to get that recognition.
"Obviously, if we get through to the quarterfinals, the publicity and the hype back home at the minute is right up there. I speak to people back home and the stories you see coming out of there are great and that's where cricket is going in Ireland," Porterfield said. "Hopefully we do make those quarterfinals and keep pushing on as a country ourselves and hopefully the ICC takes notice.
"If you want to progress your game and grow the game of cricket then cutting teams in the World Cup is not the way forward."
Porterfield is delighted that Ireland has approached its goal for this tournament by thrusting itself into quarterfinals contention.
"It's a nice position to be in, it's one we want to be in," he said. "The quarterfinals is a goal we set ourselves before we came here.
"We've gone into each game with two points up for grabs and tomorrow (against India) isn't any different. I think we've approached every game with great clarity and great professionalism from our point of view and we've prepared very well."