ICC chief reignites World Cup row
International cricket chief Haroon Lorgat on Friday stuck to his pledge to cut the World Cup to just 10 teams, reigniting a row with smaller nations who fear for their future if excluded.
Lorgat's comments came just a day before the 10th edition of the World Cup kicks off in Dhaka with a clash between Bangladesh and India, who are joint hosts of the event along with Sri Lanka.
A total of 14 teams are involved in the showpiece event -- tipped to be the most open in years -- including the Netherlands, Ireland, Kenya and Canada but the ICC wants to cut the numbers because it has grown too unwieldy.
ICC chief executive Lorgat said the World Twenty20 would be increased to 16 teams from 12, while the 50-over World Cup would be trimmed to 10.
"We have felt in the past few years that Twenty20 is the best format to develop the game worldwide and it provides a better environment for competition," Lorgat said.
"The 50-over format is more skill-based and suitable for the top teams."
Lorgat's views are bound to further anger the minnows, who believe they are being muscled out in favour of the Test-playing nations.
Cricket Kenya chief executive Tom Sears said on Thursday the ICC would not be acting in the interests of the game if the smaller teams were locked out of the next World Cup.
Kenya became the first non-Test playing team to reach the semi-finals in 2003, and Ireland produced their biggest upset over Pakistan in the 2007 tournament in the West Indies.
In the final warm-up game, Pakistan were playing England in Dhaka for the first time since the 'spot-fixing' scandal in 2010 that rocked cricket and led to bans for three Pakistan players.
England were all out for 273, with Kevin Pietersen scoring 66 in his new role as opener as former England captain Mike Gatting backed the swashbuckling star to be the side's batting equivalent of Ian Botham.
"The fact is he (Pietersen) is talented, can hit the ball through the field and over the top," Gatting added. "He can really give impetus."
As anticipation mounted ahead of the opening match, Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan brushed aside fears about taking on power-packed India, saying his side was confident of doing well despite trailing 22-2 in head-to-heads.
"Our bowlers are in good form, the batsmen have been doing their job and our fielding has improved a lot," Shakib told a crowded media conference at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni insists his team will go into the match without the baggage of their humiliating loss in 2007 against Bangladesh that led to the team's first round exit.
Dhoni said that particular defeat had not even crossed his mind in the past few years, adding: "Frankly, I have never thought about it, but we obviously don't want a repeat."
Former champions West Indies became the latest side to be struck by the injury curse affecting the marathon tournament.
Exciting opener Adrian Barath and wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh were ruled out, bringing to 10 the number of players forced to withdraw ahead of the 49-match event.
Kirk Edwards, an uncapped batsman from Barbados, and Antigua wicketkeeper Devon Thomas were named as replacements, subject to approval by the ICC.
So far the ICC has approved eight replacement players for teams in the World Cup.
It was also confirmed on Friday that hosts India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will play their knockout matches at home if they get past the preliminary rounds.
But if two host countries draw each other, the team placed higher in the pre-tournament seeding will get preference, Lorgat said.
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.