Sydney: Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday blasted proposals to slash the 2019 World Cup to just 10 nations, describing it as "a backward step" and suggesting the tournament be expanded to 25 teams.
Tendulkar, an ambassador for the World Cup on behalf of the International Cricket Council said the ICC should be expanding the frontiers of the game with Test teams encouraged to pit their 'A' sides against Associate nations such as Afghanistan and Ireland.
"I found out the next World Cup would only be ten teams which is disappointing because as a cricketer I want the game to be globalised as much as possible and, according to me, this is a backwards step," Tendulkar told a private dinner in Sydney in remarks reported by www.espncricinfo.com.
"We've got to find ways of encouraging the lesser teams." He added: "Why not get Australia A, England A, New Zealand A, South Africa A, New Zealand A, India A, everyone, to go and visit these countries and play them on a regular basis. "And see, not just 14 teams, but how can we get to 25 teams participating in the next World Cup?"
"It is not just about the top six or seven sides. If we are to globalise this game we have to get more and more people excited about cricket and the fan following only follows the result."
Tendulkar argued that it was impossible for second-tier Associate nations to be consistently competitive throughout a World Cup under the current system because they are not exposed to top-level experience in the four years between tournaments. From the 2011 World Cup to the current event, Ireland played only 11 ODIs against Full Member nations.
"Right now, they get up after four years on the cricket world's biggest platform and they're expected to play and compete with the likes of Australia, South Africa, India, New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka, so many top sides. It's unfair to them," said Tendulkar.