International Cricket body could learn from NCAA

Despite last night's bust of a final, this year's NCAA was great, entertaining even for a casual sports fan. Loads of close games, upsets and a fantastic "Cinderella" story. This year's tournament had it all, except a good final game. {Maybe we'll get that tonight in the women's final along with a Fighting Irish victory, but it's not on live here.}

It's hard to imagine the NCAA tournament without all the small colleges, without those David vs Goliath battles we expect every spring. Yet, it almost happened.

Back in the late 1980s the NCAA wanted to get rid of the automatic entry for the winners of the small college conferences because those teams were simply not competing in the tournament. Then there was the epic Georgetown vs Princeton game in 1989 when Princeton lost 50-49. That game saved the smaller conferences' automatic bids and probably the tournament too.

The NCAA Tournament could hardly be more unpredictable, exciting and unmissable than it is today.

Unpredictable and exciting. What sport, what championship tournament wouldn't want to be unpredictable and exciting?

Well, the World Cup of Cricket, it seems.

The International Cricket Council (ICC), the body that governs world cricket has decided that from now on Ireland and other smaller cricket-playing nations should not be allowed to compete in the next two World Cups, but maybe after that.

That means the Irish team, which memorably beat Pakistan in the last World Cup and even more memorably beat England at this year's tournament, is out of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups before a ball's been bowled (thrown).

The Irish cricket team and organization are not disappointed. They're livid.

The Irish team provided one of the great story-lines in the World Cup with their win over England and with Kevin O'Brien setting an all-time record for run-scoring in the game.

The Irish team generated a lot of interest in cricket here, but also made news everywhere cricket's played. They won many friends among the fans in India where the games were played and even in England, where fans are sportingly outraged that Ireland has been ousted from the next World Cup.

It's such a stupid decision that I can't make sense of it. The sport was gaining in popularity in Ireland, making news where it rarely does (I saw the Ireland vs England game reported in American papers) and so in order to prevent any further developments along those lines the ICC has barred Ireland and the others.

Seven years after that fateful, narrow loss to Georgetown, Princeton beat the defending champions, UCLA, in the first round of the tournament. Just imagine if at that moment the NCAA had opted to oust Princeton and all the other smaller schools from the tournament? We would not have the exciting tournament we have today. We would not have enjoyed Butler's amazing run last year and this nor VCU's astounding success this year.

It would have been an incredibly stupid decision, one that we all know the NCAA never considered. Yet that's essentially what the ICC has just done. Stupid.

{Both pictures found at images.google.com.}

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