Melbourne, March 16: Former India captain Rahul Dravid on Monday came out in support of the continued presence of Associate nations at the cricket World Cup, saying the participation of non-Test playing countries is the least cricket can do for them.
World Cup Special
Dravid was reacting to the International Cricket Council's (ICC) proposal of having only 10 teams in the 2019 World Cup to be held in England.
The former right-handed batsman, who played 164 Tests and 344 One-Day Internationals (ODI), feels that being a part of the mega event, countries like Ireland, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Scotland will grow massively.
"I just know how important this is for the growth of their game to be seen at a World Cup, the games being telecast live back home in terms of sponsorship, government funding. It's so important for them to be a part of this premier event. That's the least cricket can do," he said.
The 42-year-old was firm in his opposition to the ICC's decision to reduce the 2019 World Cup to 10 teams, saying 14 is a good number.
"It's a tournament once in four years to try and encourage as many of them as possible to play. You don't want an inflated tournament but I have always been of the view that 14 for me was a pretty good number, (to) give everyone a chance," he said.
Dravid said while he wasn't surprised by Ireland's improvement, he was impressed by first-timers Afghanistan.
"You expect to see a good performance from Ireland every time they come to a World Cup. It was great to see Afghanistan register a win. It's a great story as well, great for the game," he said.
Thirty-five centuries were scored in the group stages of the competition, eight more than in 2011. On six occasions, batsmen have gone past 150, while it was only done twice in 2011.
"There have just been too many high scoring games for my liking, it is one thing I have been disappointed by. It comes down to the fact that may be the wickets in Australia have been very good, they have been flat and a lot slower than people have expected," Dravid said.