WC lacking feel, ICC should do more to spread the game: Bhutia

Kolkata: Indian football icon Bhaichung Bhutia said on Thursday that the International Cricket Council (ICC) should make ‘serious efforts’ to spread the game of cricket to other countries as the World Cup is lacking its charm.

“I’m finding this World Cup completely ‘South Asia Cup’… It’s like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India only. Another 10 years and you will only see Asian teams with Bhutan and Nepal also qualifying,” Bhutia said on the sidelines of an event at the plush new office building of the Football Players’ Association of India.

There are 10 teams taking part in the ongoing cricket World Cup in England and Wales, five of them being from Asia with India becoming the first from the sub-continent to seal a semifinal spot.

“If we send three more teams, they will still make the the semifinals. India should easily win the World Cup,” Bhutia said, highlighting the lack of competition.

“The ‘world’ feel is missing from the World Cup… You need the flavour of the ‘world’ thing. There’s only one country from Europe and one team from Africa. Earlier there used to be Zimbabwe. Looking at the West Indies, it seems they would stop playing cricket in a few years time. For South Africa, it seems the younger generation has stopped playing cricket. Basketball and football are getting more prominence,” Bhutia said.

“It’s important for the ICC to put serious efforts in spreading the game to different countries. It’s only a 10-country thing. They (ICC) are not putting serious efforts to spread the game across. If they don’t do it, I think it will just be Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India and in few years time, you would have Nepal and Bhutan qualifying,” Bhutia observed.

The former India captain is also fed up of seeing repeated contests between the same teams.

“Before the World Cup, we must have seen India play Australia 50 times. We keep seeing the same contests. Look at football World Cup, you would not see Brazil play a team like Holland in five years… If you’re not lucky enough, you may not get to see such a contest. In football, fans die to see a contest like Argentina versus Germany.

“But in cricket, you keep seeing the same contests. Even after the World Cup, you may see India take on Australia 10 times. In India, we have no option, so we keep on following the same team and we tend to connect with the team,” he lamented.

Bhutia also backed underfire former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who’s currently facing flak for his slow batting.

“I think he has been brilliant. People have been giving stick to him right now as they are just trying to find a scapegoat out of somebody. But if you look at this World Cup, I think he has done pretty well,” Bhutia concluded.