Seriously, ten teams, who are they fucking kidding? Twelve, I could live with. But ten?! It's just going to be an old boys' club of the ten Test playing countries (although Zimbabwe and Bangladesh can't quite be described as old boys yet). Ireland deserve just as much a place as Zimbabwe or Bangladesh, so let's up the count to eleven straight away. Then there's the Kenyans, who may be a bit woeful now but showed so much promise in 2003 and will hopefully come out of this present lull much stronger. The Dutch are on the ascendancy, and if they can get some more international cricket against real opposition, they may actually be able to cultivate and retain some good players (rather than losing their best players to other countries, like Dirk Nannes coming to Australia so he can actually get some recognition). And Afghanistan has certainly made its future intentions clear, even if their short term prospects aren't so great. So there's plenty of competition for the twelfth spot.
And let's not overlook the current dreary state of the New Zealand and West Indies teams, or Pakistan's fitful history. Trying to act all high-and-mighty towards the associates and claim they're not good enough and the "CLUB'S CLOSED, PISS OFF!" is just absurd given the form of these supposedly great and impossibly superior countries. I'm grateful New Zealand doesn't have to play Ireland in the group stage, because if we did, we'd most likely lose. I'm already dreading our game against Zimbabwe, and I honestly won't be shocked if we walk away from this tournament only with victories against Canada and Kenya. It's an embarrassing time to be a Kiwi cricket fan. Remember less than a decade ago, when we had an amazing team? Sure, it was inconsistent, and too many players had bad days too often, but on our day when everybody fired, we could beat any team in the world. Today, we have two or three truly world class players, a couple of promising young talents, and a group of has-beens, occasionally-ares (which I'm fittingly mis-reading as "occasionally-arse"), and rash twits who don't even have the focus for T20, let alone real cricket.
I suppose that New Zealanders sometimes forget that we're a country of just four million people and can't dominate the world at everything, but given the way the All Blacks dominate rugby (and, on a comparative basis, have stats to make anybody in other team sports jealous) and how much we punch above our weight in other sports and world competitions, we come to have certain expectations. Certainly I believe that one day, I will live to see us lift the Cricket World Cup ... if it lasts long enough and isn't usurped by this T20 bullshit. I actually rather enjoy watching T20, but let's face up to the facts; it is fast food cricket. The analogy works on more than one level too; I watch T20 while drinking, then when I wake up horrendously hungover, it's time for my occasional fix of nasty, greasy fast food. T20 has its place, but if ODI gets forced out ... well, having just T20 and Test cricket would be like Melbourne just having fast food outlets and the swankiest Lygon St restaurants, with no cafe culture or bakeries in between for quality, regular dining. And Melbourne without its culture of cafes and bakeries doesn't bear thinking about. It's almost as horrible a thought as Melbourne without trams.
Oh god, did I just write four paragraphs on cricket when all I meant to do was say how impressed I was by the Irish knocking off the Poms? Sorry!