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    Bagai regrets World Cup exclusion

    Players of Indian and Pakistani origin constitute the bulk of the current Canadian cricket team.

    Toronto: Delhi-born Canadian cricket team captain Ashish Bagai is dismayed at the exclusion of associate members, including Canada and Ireland, from the next two World Cups by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

    The ICC executive board in its meeting in Mumbai on Monday confirmed that only its 10 full members will play in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, with all teams playing each other before top four making to the semi-finals.

    "It is very disappointing for players and associate member countries. You cannot work for something (cricket) if there is no incentive. We were improving very fast on the highest stage of cricket,'' the 29-year wicketkeeper-batsman told IANS in an interview here.

    He said Canada and other associate members should have been given more opportunities to play cricket at the highest level to develop their sport.

    "We did well in the World Cup though results don't reflect the kind of hard work we put in during the past one and a half years. We played good patches against Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia, but we didn't take the game through to 100 overs.

    That will come from experience at the highest level, said Bagai who has represented Canada since 1996 when he was voted the best wicketkeeper in the Under-15 Cricket World Cup.

    Despite his disappointment over their exclusion form the next two World Cups, the Canadian captain was hopeful that the ICC will arrange "a regular competition with better sides to raise our standards.

    "If we are given the opportunity to play against better sides over the next few years, we will improve a lot. But if there is no such thing, then there will no incentive for players to do better.''

    He said Canada will soon formally request the ICC - which currently provides most of funding for Canadian cricket - for organizing such competitions.

    Bagai said the new immigrants from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Caribbean have given a major boost to cricket in Canada.

    "We have cricketing talent in these immigrant communities. Now if we have a proper five-to-eight-year process and funding keeps coming through, I think Canadian cricket can improve dramatically.''

    Players of Indian and Pakistani origin constitute the bulk of the current Canadian cricket team.