Scotland should be at Cricket World Cup – here’s how they could be next time

first_img … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Cricket World Cup 2019 England cricket team Reuse this content The enthralling Scottish match raised two simple questions. Why are Scotland not playing in the 2019 World Cup? Why are England favourites for that competition?Scotland performed brilliantly at the Grange in a wonderfully entertaining contest which could be appreciated on either side of Hadrian’s Wall. They have never scored so many runs; they have seldom played better. They were, however, given a helping hand by an England side whose defeat unwittingly reopened the debate about the format of cricket’s World Cup.England were hapless in the field from 11 o’clock on Sunday. It is hard to fathom what they were doing in the field then but these are only the thoughts of an antediluvian. England won the toss and put Scotland in to bat in Edinburgh. There was once a school of thought that the decision taken at the toss should be influenced by this question: “What is the best way to get to the halfway point in charge of the game?” The Spin: sign up and get our weekly cricket email. Daniel Bell-Drummond: ‘We want people from all backgrounds coming to cricket clubs’ Support The Guardian Share on Pinterest The Spin Since you’re here… Scotland target Test status ‘in a couple of years’ after historic win Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Scotland Cricket Team Read more Share on Facebook Of course the problem is not insoluble, though, as in most cricketing decisions, at home and away, the one that seems to be the most obviously lucrative is always the favoured option, regardless of the more distant consequences.Here is a rough guide to how things could be improved: a 14-team competition which requires qualification for two or four sides since the recent tournament in Zimbabwe, from which Afghanistan and West Indies emerged as the finalists and therefore participants in the 2019 World Cup, was such a riveting and worthwhile event.There would be two groups of seven sides which all play each other. The top team in each group would have a safe passage to their semi-final; second and third in each group would play eliminators to reach a semi-final, as is the case in the Royal London Cup.Such a system removes the criticism, which is often valid, that “we know who the eight quarter-finalists are going to be before the tournament starts”. That was almost the case in 2015 in Australasia. There was some drama along the way but seven out of eight of the “senior” sides made it; only England of that octet failed to do so.Such a system might satisfy the Scots. If they play with the same passion as they did on Sunday they would surely book their place in the top 14.• This is an extract taken from the Spin, the Guardian’s weekly cricket email. To subscribe, just visit this page and follow the instructions. Choosing to bowl first is obviously a good option if the wicket is damp or green, allowing the pacemen a chance to prevail. The notion of exploiting early moisture is sound but this did not apply on Sunday. The sun rose in Edinburgh at 4.28am last weekend so there was probably enough time for any moisture to burn off. Moreover the wicket was true, the outfield fast and the boundaries short. Goodness knows how many England might have scored without the pressure of chasing. Probably the only way England could have lost that game was by letting Scotland bat first and exploit the benign conditions. The stock response to such silly old‑fashioned thinking is that it can be “tricky to set a total” on such a surface and “we think we can chase anything”.Admittedly England did not distinguish themselves with the ball. Indeed it was tough to work out how they can be World Cup favourites when watching this attack on Sunday. England have an array of potent batsmen who can smash the ball everywhere but history suggests the trophy is won usually by the side who have the best bowling attack, one that can cope in sublime batting conditions. England’s seamers offered no movement, pace or guile. Or straight yorkers, which are now as out‑of-date as hula hoops.Yorkers should be the first port of call when the batsmen are getting out of hand and if they happen to be straight there is always the chance of dismissing someone. True, straight balls can be risky when the batsman is dancing around his crease but with the risk comes reward – when they miss. One reason why these yorkers are so out of vogue is because they are very difficult to deliver and the margin of error is small so bowlers tend to shrink from that option; another may be that they are so very 20th century. features Cricket Share on Messenger Share on WhatsApp Share via Email So much for England’s frailties. What of Scotland’s long-term prospects in a week when their rival, Afghanistan, join Ireland as a Test nation? Scotland have the same ambitions for Test cricket but at the moment perhaps the best they can hope for is to participate in an enlarged World Cup in 2023. They should be there. This does not represent a Damascene conversion on my part, but in the past I have not been so zealous as some of my colleagues about the urgency to increase the number of teams in the tournament.My concerns have centred upon a fear of too many one-sided games, an argument weakened considerably by the match in Edinburgh, and the dangers of an unnecessarily elongated competition. Often in World Cups it has taken at least a month to establish the quarter-finalists, whereupon the tournament comes to life, even though by then some of the players are exhausted having been compelled to travel thousands of miles in the group games.There have barely been two World Cups with the same format. In the Caribbean in 2007 the International Cricket Council may have thought it had found the perfect system, which allowed 16 teams to participate. These were initially split into groups of four, from which two sides would progress to the next stage. The theory had merit; in practice it was soon regarded as a disaster. After playing three matches India were eliminated and the ICC’s commercial wing were tearing their hair out at the consequent loss of revenue. This could not be allowed to happen again. Topics Read morelast_img read more