Sport: PNG cricketers still holding onto World Cup dream
Papua New Guinea remain hopeful associate countries can still play a part in future Cricket World Cup events, provided they show they can be competitive.
Papua New Guinea have not given up hope of making the next Cricket World Cup.
The International Cricket Council plans to have just 10 teams at the 2019 tournament, down from 14 who competed this year.
The PNG Barramundi's are ranked 15th in the world and head coach Dipak Patel told Vinnie Wylie they still aspire to reach the top level.
DIPAK PATEL: The World Cup is the ultimate pinnacle of any international cricketer to play in the world cup but not only play but do well. We don't get as many opportunities to play at that level so we're sort of also resigned to the fact that we have to learn by watching the great players doing their job on the field.
VINNIE WYLIE: And with the prospect of just ten teams competing at the 2019 tournament, that makes it even tougher.
DP: Yeah it sure does. We've sort of slowly been building up to an occasion like this to qualify for the world cup. Our next assignment is obviously trying to qualify for the T20 World Cup in India in 2016. That's more our focus and once we've been through that process we'll try and focus on the next world cup.
VW: Looking back at that world cup, a lot of those associate teams are countries that the Barramundi's have come up against regularly...teams that you've lost to and teams that you've also beaten...performing very admirably and in some cases a couple of upsets there on the global stage as well. That shows when you get that opportunity what can happen?
DK: And I take my hat off to all four countries who played in the world cup this year: Afghanistan, Scotland, Ireland and UAE - countries that not only have we played against but, as you mentioned, we've beaten all four countries too. We can take a lot out of what they've been able to achieve and certainly what they showed in the world cup is that they're not that far away...and hopefully performances like that might change the mind of the ICC. Countries like PNG need more competition. They need to be exposed to the top teams - if they can play perhaps one or two of the top nations once or twice a year those are the sort of things that are going to help develop the game globally. I can rest assured these guys from PNG aren't that far away themselves, it's just the fact we don't get that high level of competition that you need to keep developing and obviously progressing at the high level.
VW: ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson said that, while that's the way it's heading, nothing is set in stone at this point. Do you still hold some optimism that there could be a change?
DP: The best thing that the associate countries can do is to actually perform at the higher level. That's the best way to lobby, basically, rather than have to do it in the boardroom. If we can back it up with quality cricket and performances I'm sure that the ICC would seriously look at reviewing it. In the short-term I think it's left to each individual country who are playing in that second-tier to not only upgrade their programmes, so that the players are challenged a lot more and the way that we play the game, and I think that could be the catalyst to perhaps persuade the ICC that to reconsider that 14 teams seems to be a very good tournament. I think the 2015 World Cup proved that associate countries can provide entertainment for the public.
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