Minnow is a rather insulting term.
To be called a minnow is to have people constantly surprised when you perform well and surpass expectations. Conversely, they will be even more derisive in times of loss, and act as if it was a foregone conclusion. "That's what you get for playing with the big boys."
What does it take to be a minnow? Where lies the difference between a big fish and a minnow?
The lazy man's definition:
The 10 test teams are big fish, and the rest are minnows.
Well, not really. Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are test teams, but people consider them minnows, because they tend to lose a lot of matches to bigger teams.
Then the top 8 test teams are big fish, and the rest are minnows.
Except, people are already saying, despite past glories, that any achievement made against the West Indies should have an asterisk next to it. AB de Villiers' fastest ODI century shouldn't count for as much, because it was made against the West Indies, the same way Sri Lanka's highest ODI total shouldn't count as much since it was made against the Netherlands.
So, the top 7 teams are the only big fish.
But in this World Cup, one of the largest margins of victory was West Indies beating Pakistan by 150 runs.
So Pakistan is a minnow as well.
But Pakistan beat South Africa, who have been thrashing West Indies for a while, who beat Pakistan. Where does South Africa go?
South Africa thrashed West Indies and Ireland. Ireland beat West Indies comfortably. Now, Ireland and Pakistan will face off in what promises to be a very close match.
Let us not forget that South Africa was soundly beaten by India (130 runs), who found it much more difficult to defeat West Indies (4 wickets).
That's just one group. In the other group, Bangladesh and England were soundly beaten by Sri Lanka, who were dismantled with ease by New Zealand and Australia.
Bangladesh beat England, and both of them beat Scotland quite comfortably. New Zealand beat England by 8 wickets, but beat Scotland by only 3 wickets, and Scotland had scored more runs against them than England did.
Does that make England a minnow?
A lot of people are saying that. It is not intended as a permanent name, unlike with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. People saying it assume England's cricket system will eventually throw out a talented, capable team that will prove a real threat to other "big" teams. It is said as an insult.
Minnows are dismissed, and don't have a chance to prove themselves against "big fish" teams.
All teams have their good days and their bad days. Who knows, at some time in the future, maybe Netherlands will be the dominating force in world cricket. They are formidable in most other sports, so it does not strain belief.
We should not dismiss weaker teams offhand.
Give them a chance.
Stop calling them minnows.