Australia versus Scotland!

Will you watch this World Cup game? Most of the cricket fans, unless they want to enjoy some fireworks from the Aussie batsmen, won’t probably bother staying up late to watch the game.

After all, what can one expect from Scotland that lost to Sri Lanka by 159 runs and by seven wickets to Bangladesh in the practice matches. Kenya is not among the top nations but it’s unlikely that Canada will pose any trouble to it in another match.

The ICC World Cup being played by 16 nations have eight such nations that most people will argue won’t leave any impression. There are even people who believe the number of participating countries should have been trimmed down making the two-month event a little shorter.

The debate as to whether associate nations should be included in the top-level events can go on and on.

There are people against it who argue – why let the big nations thrash the minnows? Why make the event boring? And, there are also people who say when will the minnows learn cricket if they are not allowed to play against the stronger sides? What about the development of the game?

If Kenya’s exceptional progress to the semifinals in 2003 is taken out, the minnows have achieved almost nothing. True. But for those who are not the citizens of these minnows. For the cricket loving people in these countries and and the countries aspiring-to-play World Cup like Nepal, these minnows have achieved nothing less than Australia has by winning the World Cup twice in a row.

For me, as all other Nepali cricket lovers, if Nepal participates in the World Cup, it will be the biggest moment in my lifetime to cherish for. If Australia or Sri Lanka or India thrashes Nepal by 300 runs or by 10 wickets in five overs, I will still be feeling proud. And for the players, who are playing cricket more for the passion than money, it will be a dream come true.

Cricketers in associate nations neither get a lot of money nor the hero-status as in the Test nations but they continue playing the game. That’s for the love of the game and I believe everyone, including International Cricket Council (ICC), should respect their contribution, passion and love. And no recognition can match the pride of playing with their idols in World Cup.

We can all, of course, skip the games, laugh at results and speculate on what records will be made, but let’s not talk against the inclusion of the associate countries. Please put yourself in the place of a Canadian cricket lover and hope that one day our own nation will be pitted against the world champions, and feel proud!