London, Feb 16 (AFP) England off-spinner Graeme Swann hasurged officials "not to take the world out of the World Cup,"amidst fears the tournament could become a ''closed shop'' forcricket''s elite nations.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) are trying toslim down the existing 14-team tournament, which this year inthe sub-continent will stretch to a stamina-sapping six weeks,to a 10-team contest in 2015.
But as there are 10 Test playing countries, theassociates or second-tier sides believe they will be frozenout as none of the ''big boys'' will accept a change to a systemwhere they all now qualify as of right for the World Cup.
While there have been some hugely lopsided contests downthe years, there have also been some memorable''giantkillings''.
The 2007 World Cup saw Ireland beat Pakistan while fouryears previously Kenya made it through to the semi-finals.
And England off-spinner Swann, in an interview with theMarch edition of the Wisden Cricketer magazine," said: "Ofcourse the emerging nations should stay in it.
"Why would you want to take the world out of the WorldCup? Shocks can happen," he added.
His words were backed up by several other Test players,with South Africa''s AB de Villiers saying conditions at thisedition, which is being staged in India, Bangladesh and SriLanka, could favour the associates.
"Playing on the subcontinent levels things out and theycan be harder than the best teams because their bowlers areslower and it makes it tough for batsmen," he said.
New Zealand star Brendon McCullum added the fear of beingon the wrong end of an upset added an extra-dimension to theWorld Cup.
"It''s a little bit scary actually. All you think about isplaying the knockouts, winning the big games. But to be partof the big moments you''ve got to overcome the banana-skingames."
Veteran Kenya batsman Steve Tikolo said the World Cupremained vital for the development of associate nationcricket: "The World Cup offers us the chance to test ourselvesagainst the Test nations which we rarely do nowadays."
The ICC have said they''ve still to decide onqualification procedures for the 2015 World Cup and, in whatappears to be an attempt to placate the associates, the tierbelow the Test elite, announced plans to expand the WorldTwenty20 to 16 teams.
"How the 10 members are to be determined is still to bedecided," insisted David Richardson, the ICC''s general managerfor cricket.
"It could be the full members only but it could be not",former South Africa wicketkeeper Richardson added. (AFP) AT