FORMER Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies opener Suruj Ragoonath agrees with the decision by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to expand the number of teams competing in tournaments between 2024 and 2031.
On Tuesday, the ICC made the announcement.
Among the tournaments where fans will watch more teams battle will be the 2027 50-Over World Cup. The tournament will be increased from ten to 14 teams.
The T20 World Cup will also see an expansion, as from the 2024 edition 20 teams will fight for glory instead of 16.
The Champions Trophy tournament will also be reintroduced in 2024.
In an interview with Newsday on Wednesday, Ragoonath said, “My mind goes back to when teams like Sri Lanka first started playing cricket and more recently Ireland and Afghanistan. Those nations were not full members (of ICC) when they started, and look at where they are today and how they have grown and they are now playing all formats internationally as part of the top tier.”
Ragoonath said the ICC’s decision is following in the footsteps of FIFA.
“I think expanding the tournament(s) is only a good thing. I think it is something that FIFA has done for football very successfully wanting to make it a global game.”
Cricket has seen an increase in competitive teams over the last few decades. Sri Lanka is one country to improve its quality significantly over the last 45 years. Sri Lanka played its first ODI in 1975 and in 1982 started playing Test cricket.
When Sri Lanka played teams like West Indies, England and Australia in the 1970s and 1980s the Sri Lankans would struggle to be competitive on a regularly basis, but that changed in the 1990s. Sri Lanka started to produce some of the world’s best cricketers, especially in One Day International cricket.
Led by captain Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka lifted the 1996 ODI World Cup, which included notable players such as Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas and Aravinda de Silva.
Sri Lanka has fallen in the rankings in recent years, but the 1990s and 2000s were a fruitful period for the team after a barren spell in the 1970s and 1980s.
Ragoonath said expanding the game will especially grow the T20 format.
“It’s a no-brainer, using the T20 format. It’s the most exciting game, the most attractive format. It is the format I think that could be used to attract new players and new countries to get more involved.”
Ragoonath said lower ranked teams must play against the best to continue developing.
“It is going to help their players to gauge their growth and development, their standards and it is what a player looks forward to – playing against the best in the world. It’s a lot of exposure for these players as well and for the national associations and the countries themselves.”