If the ICC was a 1950s English boarding house, this is the sign it would now be displaying in its front window.
As of yesterday, the ICC has confirmed that not only will the 2015 World Cup be limited to 10 teams, but that, for the first time since 1975, there will be no qualification system to determine which teams will be allowed to participate.
This means there will be no Associate nations at the next World Cup, nor any system which would allow them even the chance to take part.
The ICC has said there will be a qualification process in place for the 2019 World Cup. To be honest, I will believe this when I see it.
That is eight years away. Eight years is a long time in cricket. Eight years is more than enough for the game to wither and die in countries whose national teams are scrabbling with everything they have, often very little, to gain a toehold on the cliff-face that is the path to Full Member status.
With this move, the ICC has not only denied the Associates this toehold; they have stamped on their fingers, kicked their hands away and spat in their faces while watching them fall.
Kevin O’Brien scored the fastest century in World Cup history when his team knocked a punch-drunk England to the canvas in 2011. In 2015, his record will be nothing but a statistic, a historical curiosity, because his team will not be there.
His team could give any of the Full Member nations a run for their money on any given day.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe retains its Full Member status thanks to the grace of India. The money it receives from the ICC is requisitioned by a genocidal dictator for his own use. Its cricket generates no money through TV rights, and the team have been beaten soundly by every Test nation they have played against. Touring there is fraught with moral and political implications. Many of its cricketers have fled the country through fear or desperation.
And yet, to the ICC, this is acceptable.
In freezing out the Associates it has succeeded in making the 10 nations who will play in the next World Cup into a cosy cartel. It is a shocking, deeply damaging move made by venal, power-hungry nabobs who are a law unto themselves and accountable to no one.
They should, quite frankly, be fucking ashamed.
Their promise to consider a 12-team format for 2015 was a lie.
Their dangling of the carrot of a qualification process for 2015, to allow even the possibility of the Associates’ participation, was a lie.
Their mission statement, to “continually develop the quality of national team Programmes in order to close the gap between ICC Associate and Full Member playing standards” is a lie.
If you are as disgusted by this as I am, then I urge you to email the ICC at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know.
While you are doing that, you might also ask them to lay out clearly and precisely the path a nation’s cricket association must follow in order to progress to Full Member status. I have looked everywhere on the ICC site, but an explanation of this process does not seem forthcoming.
In eight years, cricket in Ireland, Scotland, Afghanistan and other Associate nations could be dead in the water. There will be no incentive to progress, and no perceived reason to give them financial support or assistance with coaching and development.
That the ICC should act in a way that betrays the spirit of the game they purport to protect is rightly seen as unacceptable by the vast majority of those who love this, our most beautiful of games.
Don’t let the bastards ruin everything. Make your voices heard.