Melbourne, Feb 22: Not quite convinced about the ICC's plans to truncate the World Cup to 10 teams, retired Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar feels the governing body should instead look to enhance the skills of so-called minnows.
"...when you want the game to globalise, we need to encourage more and more teams to participate, obviously not at the cost of dropping the standard of play but we need to look at how we can get these guys to raise their standard of playing and I think the standard of playing is only going to rise when they start playing against the top sides," Tendulkar said in the ICC's first ever 'Google Hangout'.
"For that sake, I feel even if the top sides send their A-teams, India A could tour Zimbabwe, Bangladesh or Ireland, Scotland and all these teams they need encouragement. For UAE say, Australia-A or New Zealand-A team can go and play with UAE get them that encouragement," he suggested.
Tendulkar, the global ambassador for the ongoing World Cup, said the associate nations should get more exposure against top-flight teams to be well-prepared for big multi-national events.
"I think it's important that the top teams, the stronger ones play against all these teams as much as possible and not just during the World Cups. To play against them every four years I think we need to look into it and look to encourage them more by making them play international games against top sides," Tendulkar said.
"You see it has been a history from many World Cups; these sides have always come up with surprises. So West Indies got beaten earlier you know. I feel there is potential and these guys just need that potential to express their talent. This tournament is really gonna be exciting as the time goes by, you will see some exciting matches played," he added.
Talking about the ongoing edition, Tendulkar named the players he felt, would make a huge difference in the final analysis. "...I think we (India) have got a solid team. We have a solid batting line-up. Shikhar (Dhawan) has started the tournament really well, so has Virat (Kohli). Ajinkya (Rahane) has really played well today. So these are the guys and I think Rohit (Sharma) is also waiting to do something really special," he said.
'Don't like comparisons'
"If I have to move to other teams, then in South Africa it is Hashim Amla, (besides) they have a terrific batting line up. In Australia, David Warner and Aaron Finch so you know there are so many top players," he added.
"Each team has you know is full of solid batting line up and then I think we have about six seven top players to look out for. The names are obvious, I must say."
Asked how much of himself did he see in Kohli, who is being touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket after Tendulkar, the diminutive former player said, "Each player I think likes to have his own identity and so was the case with me."
"I always liked to have my own identity and I didn't like comparisons. Each player in that era, if he targets to be one of the great players to have played in that era, then I think you would be doing a decent job. It is really difficult but you can certainly try and have realistic targets and then try and live up to your own expectations," he said.