Home > Cricket Development > News: World Cup format may change…

News: World Cup format may change…

It was reported today that there are 7 different formats that boards would like to have, instead of the format that was tried in this world cup…

The comparison is almost always made with the success of the 20 20 world cup. It is not taken into consideration that the champions trophy in India, which was actually a similar length tournament, did not really excite “crowds” like the 20 20 world cup did. The ICC trophy in 2006 had all the teams playing in it.

Lets first ask the right question, then we may get a correct answer. The 20 20 world cup was a success primarily because India and Pakistan made it through to the final, and India won some very close games. If 60 percent of the revenue comes from the subcontinent, that is interestingly also where the crowds come from (even in SA and the Caribbean). If the World Cup of 2007 had India and Pakistan making it all the way to the final, beating teams like SA and Australia on the way, then I am quite sure all this talk about the World Cup being too long would not have come about. After all, world cup 2003 was only 3 days shorter, and I dont remember anyone complaining about that in the Indian press.

The tournament format of the 20 20 world cup was a good one, and the same can be kept for 16 teams as well without any problem. Such a tournament can also be finished in 30 days if the ICC is intelligent about it. PCB’s argument that such formats are bad because a team can get knocked out on a bad day is essentially wrong. World Cups are about big matches, they are about do or die situations. They are about momments that live forever. Anyone ever complain that semi finals or the final should be made into a series as a strong team can have one bad day and get knocked out in the semis? The format of 2003 was actually very bad, because the minnows were never taken seriously. At least in the 2007 world cup you had to play the games against them with all force. Sri lanka lost to Kenya in that tournament, but there was no consequence, so it is not a known game. Compare that with 2 upsets in this world cup, Ireland beating pakistan, and Bangladesh beating India. Everyone knows about them. And in any case, 2003 format leads to a lot more one sided games.

I have a feeling that the ICC is actually going to be pressed to reduce the number of teams, which will mean that instead of 16, there will be only 14 (2003 format), or perhaps 12 teams (exact 20 20 format). This would mean that only 2 minnows will be participating. I wonder if that happens, whether the ODI status will still stay for the 16 teams, or only be given to those that qualify.

Trust me, you can have a 30 day world cup. But if India and Pakistan, especially India, get knocked out in the first 4 days, then 30 days is going to start looking like a very very long time!

Categories: Cricket Development
  1. December 7, 2007 at 1:41 am

    I’ve mentioned this over at BTB too. Pakistan’s claim that “one bad day and a good team goes out” is strange, considering that Pakistan had TWO bad days. If they’d have beaten the West Indies, they’d have gone through even with the loss to Ireland.

    Also, the long part of the World Cup was the Super 8 stage. The first round saw some of the most interesting cricket!

    I think that the proposed change in format is less about ensuring an exciting tournament and more about reducing the risk of India and Pakistan being embarrassed at home.

  2. December 7, 2007 at 2:54 am

    Paistan’s argument is not that a team can lose a game and be knocked out…. their argument is that they can have a “bad day” and be knocked out…… they dont consider the loss to WI as a “bad day”….. but they do consider, probably correctly, that the loss to Ireland was due to a “bad day”……

  3. Bensti
    December 7, 2007 at 3:19 am

    My gut feeling is that the ICC will not support a reduction is teams thankfully.
    Rather I think they will have two groups of eight, with quarter finals, semi’s and final.

    It seems the associate nations are blamed for everything by the elitists. When they play poorly, they are bringing the standard down. When they win they are blamed for taking the place of a more worthy nation. When will the old “19th century Imperialists” finally wake up to the fact that cricket will die a horribly painful death with just 10 established nations? The public are dead set bored with the same 10 nations playing against each other year in year out.

    As I said, I don’t believe the ICC will reduce the number of associates. In fact, it should be part of their mandate to have a 20 nation World Cup by 2015 or 2019 at the latest. It should also be part of the mantra to have a non-traditional nation or duo of nations (Japan and China perhaps) to host a World Cup by 2019 or 2023.

    For those of you who believe in the growth of the game and enjoy supporting the associate nations, I hope you will write a letter or an email to the ICC expressing your disgust at the suggestion that the number of associate nations at the next world cup should be reduced. I will be and I know that if a large number of other people follow suit, it will have some kind of impact.

  4. December 7, 2007 at 4:24 am

    I dont think ICC will ever go to 8 team pools. Frankly, I hope they dont do that. 8 team pools have a much higher chance of minnows appearing to be making up the numbers. Think about minnows in 2007 vs minnows in 2003. Kenya’s progression to the semi finals was frowned upon, while the other pool just had these games as pointless match practice. And nobody even remembers that Namibia were able to push England for 75% of the match. Plus, 8 team pools will end up in the number of matches going higher, and the ICC is not interested in holding 4 matches a day.

    The best format would be 4 pools of 4, and the top 2 teams from each pool going into another group of super 4, just like 20 20 WC.

    When the ICC took the decision to give ODI status to the top 6 teams, every country opposed it except for 3; Pakistan, SA and NZ. In fact, these bodies then slowly convinced the others that this was necessary for the expansion of the game. I think it is not good that after this history, within 2 years, at least Pakistan is tilting in the other direction due to various reasons.

  5. amit
    December 7, 2007 at 5:26 am

    the 15 team format with 3 pools of 5 has been 1 of the talked about format by fans since 2003 wc and i think that format should be even tried out once for the 2011 wc. the top 3 teams go into a super 9 stage from each pool having 27 matches in the super 9 stage. that gets followed by semis & final having 3 matches. there will be 60 matches and in the group stages & super 9 stages, 2 matches can be held in a day making it a 30-35 day tournament. and even if 1 of the “big” teams lose to a associate, they will have 2 chances against the other big teams instead of 1 in 2007. if a team loses to the associate and the 2 other “big” teams then they simply do not deserve to be in the super 9 stages

  6. December 7, 2007 at 5:40 am

    Super 9s is not a marketable model. Probably super 6s, with 2 top teams from each pool, with teams carrying points forward. That would mean 30 games in the first round, and 12 in the second, plus 3 more = 45 in all. This can also be finished within 30 days.

  7. Bensti
    December 7, 2007 at 8:00 am

    Well Nasir, I’m prepared to concede to you on the two groups of 8 idea.
    Although, I do think at some stage we have to back the new teams in at World cup level and market them to the public.
    The Rugby Union World Cup totally supports the smaller nations and people come to watch them, despite some awful thrashings.

    But my main point was that we cannot afford to see less associate teams at the World Cup. This is not the way forward and would be a terrible blow to the development initiative.

  8. Rich B
    December 7, 2007 at 9:00 am

    I agree with Nasir’s last comment – 4 groups of 4, then 2 groups of 4, then semis and final is probably best for next time.

    After 2011 they should be looking to increase the number of nations again – the above format would work equally well with 20 teams (4 groups of 5), or you could have 3 groups of 6 going into a super 6 (however in the long run ICC may want to expand the Twenty20 world cup more than the 50 over version)

    The Pakistani comment about “one bad day” is quite ridiculous, in fact the format of the much touted World Twenty20 was much less safe than that of the World Cup. Australia were very lucky to make the 2nd tound, as I remember.

  9. Rich B
    December 7, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Actually it’s good in itself that they’re meeting to discuss the format, though, however poor some of the suggestions are. If nothing else it’s a recognition that there were failings at the World Cup.

  10. December 7, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Good point Rich, in both comments! One bad day really could put you out of the Twenty20 World Championship.

    One hopes that the ICC do recognise the failings of the last world cup, and that those failings (format wise) had more to do with the overlong Super 8 stage rather than the first round.

  11. Bensti
    December 7, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Well, perhaps if the old guard get there way, the ICC should rename the World Cup to The Commonwealth Cup.
    Meanwhile……basketball, rugby union, baseball and field hockey continue to expand rapidly.

  12. Ram
    December 8, 2007 at 12:36 am

    Nasir…Pakistan’s main issue was a team exiting the tournament after just ‘one bad day’. Adopting the Twenty20 format for 16 teams will not address Pak’s issue; it will only address other countries’ concerns of a shorter tournament…I think two groups of 8 with quarters, then semis and then final is the best way to address the concerns of all test nations and also preserve interest in the tournament because it would now be only a single stage event…I think introduction of the Super Six phase had a point because that meant 3 good teams missing out (since Zim were highly competitive in ’99 and 2003) but the Super 8s this year meant fans decided to take the first round easy….However, for the next event, by interspersing top matches with minnow games and the fact that multiple games will be held per day, I think there would be genuine interest if say Ind or Pak had to defeat Sco or Neth in their final group game to make it to the quarters…

    And, if the ICC do indeed reduce the number of teams from 16 to 14 or 12, they would arguably be the biggest laughing stock in World sport…Reducing the number of minnows simply because they did well!!!

  13. December 8, 2007 at 1:59 am

    I don’t like the idea of having two groups of 8. Even if you play two games a day and have no rest days, the first round would still last four weeks! In addition, as the Friends Provident trophy in England showed over the last two seasons, you get a lot of dead games.

  14. December 8, 2007 at 2:08 am

    World Cup 1996, and 1999 had 3 minnows, with groups of 6. 2003 had 3 minnows plus Bang/Ken, and 2 groups of 7. All these tournaments got a lot of flak due to having a lot of pointless cricket. Before Ireland and Bangladesh knocked Pakistan and India out of the tournament, a lot of “journalists” were out with their theories as well about the number of minnows in this WC. Hence, I dont think that the ICC is going to go with the 2 pool, 8 team format.

    The problem of the other boards about the tournament being too long, that can be solved with using the exact same format as 20 20 WC, and that will finish in 30 days.

    The problem of Pakistan….. its not a valid problem. Thats the nature of the world cup. No other team complains about this. Pakistan lost to Ireland !!! there is no “format” problem with that, but the fact that they played badly and lost.

    There is of course, a third problem as well, especially for ICC/ BCCI. If India gets knocked out in the first round after 4 days, then the viewship drops dramatically by 50% for the remaining 90% of the tournament.

    Due to the second and the third problem, ICC might actually revert back to 2003 world cup format, and do away with super sixes. 2 pools of 7 (42 games + 3) can easily be done in 1 month. That seems to be the only format that will keep everyone happy. 2 pools of 8 (56+3) cannot be done in 1 month. 2003 WC had 52 games, and it took 7 weeks.

    Of course another way is to give India nine lives. Reserve their place all the way to the final, so that viewship is not dropped 🙂

  15. December 8, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Unconfirmed, but it seems they have gone back to 2003 format, with 14 teams in all…..

  16. Art
    December 8, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    The ICC is doing a wonderful of job of forgetting about cricket and looking to maximise the dollars.

    The primary question is simple: is the best team at the tournbament going to win or are we going to somehow juggle it to ensure maximum viewers/ revenue?

  17. Chris
    December 9, 2007 at 12:23 am

    I don’t see why the two goals have to be incompatiable. It should be expected that the best team should win and that the ICC can attempt to get maximum viewers and revenue. There seems to be a few of hurdles though: Australia, the rest of the world and South Asia. With Australia being ever dominant, their matches are going to be rather dull (who wants to watch, much less pay good money, for a near pre-determined outcome?). This isn’t their fault, its actually the fault of everybody else (the rest of world) for not keeping up. With South Asia, the problem is that with over a 1 billion people in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh (and Sri Lanka), South Asia represents the vast majority of the viewing public for cricket. So once those viewers don’t have a reason to watch, the viewership and revenue will plunge. In business this would be seen as an unhealthy overdependence on a particular market and the appropriate thing to do would be to diversify (and not diversify to markets with overseas South Asians). Naturally it will be very hard to find a balanced “market” in terms of fans, but at the very least if the ICC seriously attempted to get places like Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Indonesia (with 260 million people!!), Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Nepal, Malaysia, the Pacific and Argentina (and of course the obligatory USA, Canada and China) as fully developed markets (by fully developing their cricket) then they wouldn’t have the problem they faced this year with a massive drop in viewership the moment Pakistan and India drop out. It will still be a great drop, but it should mean that in one week over 70% of the viewership tunes out.

  18. Chris
    December 9, 2007 at 12:26 am

    Oops. I meant:
    “It will still be a great drop, but it shouldn’t mean that in one week over 70% of the viewership tunes out.”

  19. Bensti
    December 9, 2007 at 1:22 am

    Yes, that is the long term plan but the full members, particularly those in Asia are probably happier to maintain a monopoly on the viewing audience. Thus the ACC’s acceptance of expat controlled associate and affiliate teams in the region. Another reason why expat based teams are not helping cricket’s development in any way.

    The ICC can only do so much if the full members are not willing to concede a tiny bit of their power and income stream.

    Has cricket learned nothing from 120 years of elitism and imperialism? For heaven’s sake, The old Imperial Cricket Council did their best to extinguish the game in USA, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Argentina and most of Africa. Make no mistake, there were a great many people who did not want India or the West Indies to be of the test cricket community either.

    Maybe some administrators and commentators in Pakistan and India need to go back and read about their own cricketing history.

    In truth, the World Cup should be two groups of eight with quarter finals, semi’s and final.
    It is then up to the hosts to promote ALL THE MATCHES, not just the obvious ones.

    Rugby World Cups manage to fill out stadiums for all their matches, even those involving teams like Japan, Romania etc. A few years back they made a decision to fully embrace cultural diversity within the IRB, probably against the will of the established nations. It was a case of short term pain for long term gain.

    It is time for cricket to follow suit by promoting the emerging nations as part of the cricketing fraternity instead of treating them like lepers who are intruding on the old boys’ members only pipe and slippers club.

  20. Bruce Gaskell
    December 9, 2007 at 8:29 am

    Was there actually anything wrong with the 2007 format? (Apart from, as Chris intimated above, any format was going to be a coronation for Australia) Yes it was too long but that’s easily solved by playing multiple games on the same day. From what I remember the players were not complaining of burnout but rather the time between matches.

    Obviously you would want games in the later stages to stand on their own, but I can’t see why it would be a problem in the group stages to have say India vs. South Africa, England vs. West Indies, Scotland vs Holland and Bermuda vs. Bangladesh all on the same day.

    That way the minnows would be there for people like us who are interested in their progress, but for the more sane cricket fans out there who just want to see the big guns in action they would still have 1 or 2 matches a day to follow.

  21. December 9, 2007 at 9:21 am

    From the ICCs perspective, there was a lot wrong with the 2007 WC.

    India and Pakistan got knocked out in the first 4 days of the tournament. That dropped viewership by more than 50% then and there. I will explain ICCs problem here. ICC sold the television rights to GCC, who sold it to Nimbus for the subcontinent. Nimbus in turn sold them to individual television channels, and the television channels made money through advertising.

    Once India got knocked out, the television channels could not get any ads, and started going into a lot of loss. They made it clear to Nimbus that next time the bid would be much less. Nimbus in turn complained to ICC. The risk that ICC was running was that if they continued with the same format, GCC or Nimbus would bid substantially lower to manage risk.

    Also, remember all the criticism of the WC? about the empty stands and overpriced tickets? The tickets “appeared” to be overpriced when you looked at the local population. But the ICC had not planned for these locals to buy these tickets anyway. The tickets were for the Indians and Pakistanis who resided in “nearby” US i.e. the expats.

    I personally know about 10 people who had bought the tickets package for the one week in the super sixes stage during the week that Pakistan was supposed to play India and Australia. And this was just from my circle of friends in the Bay Area. They obviously did not go. I am sure that majority of the people who were supposed to go did not go once their teams got knocked out. The Pakistan vs India game was the first to be sold out, and was the least attended, becuase there were Ireland and Bangladesh playing instead!

    What Chris is saying is correct, and overdependence on a single market influences a lot of problems. But ICC can obviously not change things in 4 years. So they have gone back to the 2003 format (this is still not confirmed though). They are also likely to put India and Pakistan in the same pool, while putting Aus and SA in a different one. Once that happens, then the pak v India match is gauranteed, and also they are likely to make it through because they just need to beat 1 good team in their pool.

    This is quite stupid. But I think it serves them right for being exicted about the “expansion” of cricket in the US, and also the great “development” that is happening in the gulf countries.

    What I have always said about the world cup being about big matches and all….. that seems not to be the issue here. The issue here is maximizing the profits (or in this case, making some profit). Sure Ireland beat Pakistan, Bangladesh beat India. But it was the fact that they knocked these teams out that made these matches big. Otherwise there have been upsets that people dont even remember about.

    Why not just have a double round robin quadrangular featuring Aus, Ind, Pak and SA? I am sure it will make as much money as the World Cup!

  22. December 12, 2007 at 2:58 am

    They seem to have agreed on 2 pools of 7, then the quarters. So total of 21+21+7 = 49 games.

    They have basically tried their best to ensure that India and Pakistan do not get knocked out in the first stage. At least 2 of the big 8 got knocked out in 2003 in the first round. Now that chance has also been removed.

  23. Bensti
    December 12, 2007 at 3:01 am

    But this now goes to the ICC board for discussion right?
    Surely the final decision rests with the ICC rather than the hosts?

  24. Bensti
    December 12, 2007 at 5:11 am

    Ok, some clarification here:

    The remit of the ICC Cricket Committee is to discuss and consult on any cricket-playing matters and to formulate recommendations to the CEC which relate to cricket-playing matters. Any recommendations made by the ICC Cricket Committee will not take effect until they are ratified and/or approved by CEC and the Board.


    The ICC Chief Executives’ Committee draws together the Chief Executives of the ten Test playing nations together with three representatives from the Associate Members to deal with operational and management matters relating to the administration and operation of the game of cricket.

    Chairman Malcolm Speed
    ICC President Ray Mali
    Chairman – Cricket Committee – Ex-Officio Sunil Gavaskar
    Full Members

    Australia James Sutherland
    Bangladesh Mahmudur Rehman
    England David Collier
    India Niranjan Shah
    New Zealand Justin Vaughan
    Pakistan Shafqat Naghmi
    Sri Lanka Duleep Mendis
    South Africa Gerald Majola
    West Indies TBC
    Zimbabwe Ozias Bvute

    Associate Member Representatives
    Hong Kong John Cribbin
    Ireland Warren Deutrom
    Namibia Laurie Pieters

  25. Art
    December 12, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    So in broad terms it is being rigged?

  26. December 12, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    WI also got knocked out in the 20 20 WC by losing just “1 game” against bangladesh. Nobody talks about 20 20 WC format being bad, and in fact the same “successful” format has been retained for the next edition.

    This had nothing to do with the format. It had to do with the money spinner countries being knocked out.

    In my opinion, this is somewhat against the spirit of cricket, which should have allowed for more countries to play the sport. Also, it is against the spirit of a World Cup. Why shouldnt FIFA just have the european countries + china always take part in the World Cup? Why should countries like Togo, Senegal, Cameroon etc be participating in FIFA world cup when FIFA can spin so much more money by just having the European countries playing?

    ummm….. because its the “World” Cup? It is supposed to show case talent from around the world, and it supposed to give the underdogs their oppurtunity.

    It would be hilarious if India lose to a minnow and 3 Test teams in 2011. I guess then for the 2015 edition, ICC can make 2 pools of 8, and have a round of 16! Nobody gets knocked out!

  27. Chris
    December 12, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    It would be more than hilarious, it would be a comeuppance.

    As you said Nasir, FIFA doesn’t just have the european countries (and the south american countries which you left out) being the only participants, since it is a world cup. However, if you will notice, the european and south american countries have the most teams at the world cup since they are the strongest and by coincidence are also the main money spinners in the the FIFA world cup. If only African and Asian teams made it into the quarter finals FIFA world cup viewership would probably drop, but not as badly as when India and Pakistan are knocked out of the ICC World Cup. Of, course, it’s next to impossible for all european or south american teams to be knocked out in the first round of the FIFA world cup and FIFA’s markets in those 2 continents are diversified with at least 6 major money spinners in South America and Europe (Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France, Italy and England) as opposed to the ICC’s 2 major money spinners from South Asia (India and Pakistan).

    I’m also fairly sure that had Pakistan been knocked out the 20 20 WC by India and Scotland (and the Scots didn’t do too badly against Pakistan in their game) and had India been knocked out in the Super 8s stage then the 20 20 WC would have been considered a “flop” like the WC earlier this year and that there would have “problems” with the format (in addition to the tournament being “too long” the moment India leave).

  28. Art
    December 24, 2007 at 2:47 am

    When money starts to dictate the program to almost ensure results the game has failed. Contriving a format to ‘help’ certain teams certainly would also help the betting, illegal and leagl, on the outcome of various pool games all the way up to the final.

    When money talks this much the game in a holistic way will suffer.

  29. January 3, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    When you think about it….. even an “unthinkable” format of a 1992 type league with 12 participating teams is not that unthinkable. 2003 and 2007 editions were running at 51-52 games….. and such a 12 team league would have 66 games…. at 2 games per day, you can get done in 33 days + 3 more……. The main problem with this format is that a team is expected to play 11 games during the league stage in 33 days…..

  30. January 3, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    I think the main problem is the amount of dead games you’d have in a 12 team league

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