THE visiting International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman Greg Barclay has defended a 10 - team ODI World Cup, which he says was only part of a cycle which ends at this year's edition of the global competition.
India will host the 13th edition ICC World Cup which is set to run from October 5 to November 19 with full members West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe missing out after stumbling in the qualifiers which conclude today.
With just 10 teams competing, the event is one of the global events with the fewest participants raising speculation that the ICC is reluctant to open the competition to many participants.
Other major sporting codes such as rugby union and football have been expanding their World Cups but cricket has remained a closed shop for the major nations, raising doubts about the cricket governing body's willingness to expand the game.
However, the ICC has already decided to increase the number of teams to 14 at the next World Cup to be held in 2027.
"This World Cup is the last in the ICC cycle. It's a team event, but be reminded that we compete with rugby and other sports. The ICC has global events most years so there is a global opportunity for teams to participate in ICC World events," Barclay told journalists in Harare on Friday.
"Obviously there are a lot more teams playing in T20 events so the opportunity does exist for more teams to participate; both men and women across those events with more frequency.
"It is changing and exciting so we move from 10 to 14 teams (in 2027) to give those performing members an opportunity to participate in the 50 over World Cup," he added.
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South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia will co-host the 2027 ICC World Cup.
While he was impressed with how the country hosted ICC World Cup Qualifier, Barclay believes that Zimbabwe deserved to go to the global event.
He also expressed satisfaction with the manner in which Zimbabwe hosted the qualifiers.
"We would have loved to see Zimbawe get up and go through (to the World Cup). I do feel deeply sorry given the support; the team tripped at the final third or so. It's a real shame but it would have been deserving for the team to go through," said Barclay.
"From an ICC perspective this has been a great tournament we expected that it would be. Zimbabwe is a great place to host tournaments, the facilities are good, the weather obviously has played its part and it's been magnificent.
"The cricket has been an excellent standard as a consequence. I think the thing that really shone out for me is the support. The fans have been amazing I saw a lot of it on television. the colour, the passion and the noise it's great for cricket when there is fan participation and support
"And again as mentioned we have ICC events here in 2026 and another one co-hosted in 2027 so the future in terms of bringing cricket events to this country is promising."