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Ireland pushing Associates' plea for fair deal at World Cup

Published:Tuesday | March 10, 2015 | 3:00 AM

HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP):

Ireland want to deliver an emphatic message to the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Prior to last night's Pool B match between the two countries, India were unbeaten in four matches and had already qualified for the quarter-finals, while Ireland had won three of their four matches and needed a point from their last two matches to press their claim to a place in the final eight.

Ireland have shown their 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. They could cause some embarrassment to the ICC by beating India, or if they qualify for the quarter-finals, by allowing that achievement tacitly to condemn a decision to cut future World Cups to 10 teams.

NEW RULES

Cricket's international governing body has indicated they 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 their captain, William Porterfield, might carry farthest and be heard loudest.

Porterfield spoke yesterday of the huge boost the marginalised sport of cricket in Ireland had received from his team's performances over the past three weeks. He criticised 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 yesterday. "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 (ODI) 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 quarter-finals, 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 quarter-finals 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."