Home > Cricket Development > The never ending debate of Associates in the Cricket World Cup …

The never ending debate of Associates in the Cricket World Cup …

It seems that every time there is a cricket world cup, 2 discussions always come up. One, whether the associates should be playing the current world cup, and secondly, whether they should be playing the next world cup.

The ICC’s argument is that it needs money to fund associate cricket. In order to do that it has to maximize the TV revenue it can get from a world cup. It has already created a 45 day tournament, so now it is about maximizing the money it can extract out of those games. Ind vs UAE sells for a lot less than Ind v Eng, so lets ensure the latter. The associates don’t disagree with the fact that they need the funding, but they want to showcase their skills at the world stage.

Of all the world cups, this particular world cup should not have generated this debate. One, it was not just the associate games which were one sided, the ones between the test teams (including all quarters, one semi and the final) were also one sided. Secondly, Bangladesh qualified over England, and Ireland should have qualified over WI (why bother with NRR in a 2 way tie?). So it wasn’t the foregone conclusion that everyone thought it would be at the beginning of the tournament. Zimbabwe should have won their game against Pakistan, and Ireland, and maybe even India. They also played very well against South Africa.

But I love how the ICC tries to justify the reduction of the teams to 10.

“World Cup should be played between equal teams”.

Going by the current tournament, that would mean reduction to 5, not 10.

“The World Cup should not go on for this long”.

Well, the next one with 4 teams less is 2 days longer. Thats because it is the same number of games.

“ICC wants to have one marquee game in a day”.

Ok, then have 1 marquee game and 1 not so marquee game. The tournament should be finished in 30 days if they had played 2 games a day. One day and one day/night. the first one can be the one involving the associate, and the second one can be the one that is the marquee game. Specially in the Aus/NZ context, this would have meant only a 2 hour overlap, and most viewers can pick and choose what they want to do in that case. It is just ridiculous to expect a tournament to maintain interest and reach climax over 45-50 days. I think 30 days is the magic number, which has worked well for soccer, and also cricket world cups before 2000.

Personally, I think the 1999 format can work. It reduces the associates by 2, but at least thats better (and fairer) than them having to slug it out with 2 well funded test teams for the 2 spots.

But lets say the 1999 format is not an option and we must play a 10 team league. First, the question is why? Is it because we all think 1992 worked very well? It worked well because in those days, the top 8 teams were not playing each other year around outside of the world cup, and also because a completely new team (South Africa) started throwing all predictions off the table.

But lets assume that the 10 team format is it.

I think Michael Holding’s idea for reducing the number of automatic qualification from top 8, to top 6. The bottom 4 ranked teams, which currently are Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Pakistan and West Indies, would then have to play the top 6 associates to qualify. Im assuming such a qualification tournament would also be a 10 team round robin tournament, where every one of the six associates has at least 4 shots to tip a full member and take their spot. I think that is as reasonable as you can get in an inherently unfair system. But at least it is something.

But there are multiple problems with this. One, what if Ireland beats WI, or Pakistan? or Ken beats WI? One upset can always happen, and it has happened in the past. Would a world cup of cricket really be a world cup without either WI or Pak in the final 10?  What will be said of the qualifier who may underperform at the main event? This looks very similar to the idea of the super 8s in the 2007 world cup, where the upset has not been taken into account. Personally, given the passion that Bangladesh people have for the game, I don’t see the point of even having them have to go through a qualifier. How can a celebration of the sport be complete with the absence of a team representing 150M followers?

Second, what if either Aus or Eng, or god forbid (for ICC) India, end up in the bottom 4 positions? What if they were to get knocked out? The ICC is making a format which it considers fair, and at the same time, it probably can’t even fund the main tournament if one of Aus, Eng or Ind go missing from it. FIFA makes a format and says its equal for everyone. it doesn’t matter if France doesn’t qualify, or Greece or someone else. Thats the format. This one is based on unfairness. And I always thought that the ICC was in place to ensure fairness. Otherwise the boards can manage their finances better.

But still, I think lets go ahead with top 6 automatically qualifying, and see what happens.

Given that the ICC has already decided that the qualifier will be in Bangladesh (since the conditions are so similar to the main tournament in England!!), it seems that the ICC is unlikely to change the number, and is at the moment willing to take the risk on only Zimbabwe not making it. But you have to keep in mind that Afghanistan did beat Bangladesh in Bangladesh. In my opinion, it will be a pity no matter who qualifies.

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Categories: Cricket Development
  1. Ram
    April 6, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    First off, Nasir, it’s good to have you back here, even if it’s only for a brief while. May I suggest you look at alternative writers to keep this blog going, given that you have been hardly active in recent years? Associates cricket needs more voices than ever before and this was one of those rare, genuinely passionate cricket blogs that almost exclusively focused on the non-test nations.

    Coming to the topic, I’m not sure where to start because there’s absolutely no cricketing logic in the 10-team WC….Everything about the ICC’s justification is stupid and completely ignorant of the relative competitiveness of the teams itself…It’s worthy of a separate post, so I’ll only address a few of the points you have raised here….

    Regarding the 1999 format, it won’t work for two reasons. One, it has only 42 games, less than the contractually stipulated minimum of 45. Second, and more important, there is the inherent risk of India not making it to the Super Six…That’s why we got to the Super Eights in 2007 and, when it didn’t work it was converted to QFs instead (with a longer league phase)…..And, that’s also why we have the top 8 qualifying direct….This is the biggest problem with cricket today – the fans and media want some uncertainty to enhance competitiveness and excitement in the tournament (such as Super Six or direct SF qualification), but Indian advertisers want certainty!….And so, when the ICC adds QFs for commercial interests, everyone complains that the whole tournament is predictable!!!….I think the current format probably best optimizes the two conflicting interests, under the present scenario….The issue is they should have two games a day and shorten the tournament by a week minimum….And, I think that if say teams like PNG and Nepal had qualified instead of Sco and UAE, fans would have been much more sympathetic to their cause and the passion in their cricket (much like they did for Afg)….Teams like Sco, UAE, Neth, Can have done preciously little except making up the numbers in the ODI WCs over the years…..

    A final word on the 10-team event for 2019. I still think 4 years ahead, despite all this talk of ‘competitiveness’, we can all safely predict that Aus, Ind and SA will make the SF, the 4th qualifier would be the only point of interest. That doesn’t seem to make the tournament any more competitive or interesting than 2015!!!

  2. April 6, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Good to hear from you Ram.

    Yes, I was going through the blog and I have posted 1 post per year for the last 4 years 🙂 …. not the best frequency to keep getting traffic.

    But the more interesting thing to me was, how I was essentially saying the same thing every year for the last 4 years

    From the heydays of this blog when there used to be a lot of activity here, its now been 10 years, so time really flies !

  3. Ram
    April 7, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Yes, the very fact that we keep discussing the same thing year after year is proof that the ICC is doing nowhere near enough and should look hard at its approach and attitude to global development….In fact, they only seem to be regressing further and further….

    I think this blog is probably reflective of the world of Associates cricket….A decade back, when the WCL and Intercontinental Cup were relatively new introductions, people were a lot excited and this blog thrived….Over time, the novelty has waned as the top tier of Associates have basically stagnated (mainly due to lack of appropriate opportunities), and the interest among the followers has slightly drifted off…..

    As I have been thinking for the past two months, the ICC is probably right in going ahead with a 10-team WC…..The only problem is the four teams to be removed should have been Aus, NZ, Ind and SA….In reality, they were the ones making the tournament uninteresting and uncompetitive!!

  4. amitsshukla
    April 7, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    A world cup must serve both purposes – expansion of the sport & revenue genration

    In this format of 20 teams in 5 groups of 4, followed by super 10 in 2 groups of 5, the world cup will be 53 ODIs, good enough for globalisation, short enough to keep it interesting and the super 10s to generate revenue

    The groups will look something like

    Pool A – Australia (1), Zimbabwe (10), Ireland (11), Nepal (20)
    Pool B – India (2), Bangladesh (9), Afghanistan (12), Namibia (19)
    Pool C – Sri Lanka (3), West Indies (8), Scotland (13), Kenya (18)
    Pool D – South Africa (4), Pakistan (7), UAE (14), Netherlands (17)
    Pool E – New Zealand (5), England (6), Hong Kong (15), PNG (16)

    Top 2 from each qualify for Super 10s. The associates also have a chance to qualify for Super 10s. And in the 1st round, the associates play the big teams, which should be the main purpose of a world cup. The Super 10s has big teams play each other, something which the ICC & the broadcasters want

    Super 10s will look something like

    Pool F – A1, B2, C1, D2, E1 – Most likely AUS, BAN, SL, PAK, NZ
    Pool G – A2, B1, C2, D1, E2 – Most likely IRE, IND, WI, SA, ENG

    20 team format followed by super 10 is good. hope the ICC looks into this format for 2019 WC

    Total of 30 matches in group stage, 20 matches in Super 10s and then semis & final. 30+20+2+1 = 53 ODIs

    Total length = 15 days for group stage, 16 days for Super 10s (2 matches in weekends, 1 match in weekday), 3 days knockouts. 1 day gap before Super 10s. 1 day gap before semis & 1 day gap before final. 15+16+3+3 = 37 days, much more shorter than most formats suggested

    1st round spreads cricket everywhere in the world, 2nd round gives ICC & broadcasters what they want. The 2nd round is basically the 10 team WC which ICC wants

  5. amitsshukla
    April 7, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Looking at the difference between teams, the currently proposed 2019 “world” cup will be like the super 8 stage of 2007 world cup with India & Pakistan being added. There will be clear top 4-5 and they will beat the teams in the bottom 5 by margins of 8 wickets, 150 runs, etc. And then people will say that they missed teams like Afghanistan, Netherlands, etc who made cricket interesting. Ireland has a good chance of qualifying, so not added. But this 10 team “world” cup is totally unfair on all associate teams, as well as Bangladesh, Zimbabwe & West Indies as well

    And regarding unpredictablity part, the quarter-final line ups were unpredicatable. Bangladesh qualified ahead of England. Ireland should have qualified as well. Many Indians were supporting Ireland in the match against India looking at the greater good of cricket. And Zimbabwe beating Pakistan would have thrown the pool even more wide open. And instead of a “top 8” which ICC is forcing people to believe, we can say there is either a clear “top 4” or a “top 11”. The top 4 being Australia, India, South Africa & New Zealand. With a big gap between the 4th & 5th ranked teams. And then 7 teams with not much to choose between them – Pakistan, Sri Lanka, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland, Zimbabwe. And a team can beat anyone upto +/- 5 ratings above or below them, with almost no difference between a team ranked 5-6 & ranked 10-11. But a massive difference between teams ranked 1-2 & ranked 6-7

    The 10 team “world” cup will involve the same teams everyone is sick & tired of playing. Only thing which can save it is if Ireland somehow qualify & be strong in almost home like conditions. Ireland were the ones who made 2015 world cup interesting

  6. amitsshukla
    April 7, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    The ICC doesn’t want more revenues to give to associates. They want more revenues for themselves only. Without the big 3 takeover, the associates were going to get $550 – 600 million over 8 years. Now they will get only $300 million. The TAPP funding which was created for the top 6-8 associates & Zimbabwe, was also ended leaving the top associates with lesser funds than before. ICC is trying its best to kill cricket & have decided that they will try their best to kill cricket in Ireland as England does not want any new strong cricket team in Europe

  7. amitsshukla
    April 8, 2015 at 12:03 am

    And talking of revenues, India v Ireland in 2011 WC was the 2nd highest revenue geneating match in group stages in 2011 WC. Biggest revenue generator in group stages was India v England

    India v Ireland in 2011 WC generated more revenues than India v South Africa, South Africa v England, Australia v Pakistan, Australia v New Zealand & many more such matches in 2011 world cup

    • April 17, 2015 at 11:53 pm

      That doesn’t sound right. India played South Africa and West Indies in that group stage. If that was the case, then India would be inviting Ireland every year instead of playing with either West Indies or South Africa. Ireland would probably be a test team already ! 🙂

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