Sunday, January 30, 2011


The World Cup is back to a 14-team format from the 16-team format tried out in the previous edition. The format for 2011 is similar to the one used for 1996 edition, except that only 12 teams played back then. The concept of Quarter Finals will be used only for the 2nd time in cricket World Cups after 1996.

I am one of those people who like to see minnows in action. I know that ICC is of the opinion that minnows shall be given exposure against the top teams in the Twenty20 format... but I like to see them play top teams in ODIs too. The reason why I feel that they should get more ODI games against top teams is that ODIs are closer to Test cricket than Twenty20s.

In future, I would love to see an expanded Test pool. I would love to see the smaller teams like Ireland, Netherlands and Kenya be a part of Test cricket. I was absolutely delighted when the news had surfaced some time back that the Irish cricket has ambitions of breaking into Test cricket arena. I would love to see it happen sooner rather than later. And that's why I believe that ODI experiences will help them more in this regard than Twenty20s.

That is why I was happy to see 16 teams competing in 2007, even though I did not really approve of the format. Even this time round, even before the first ball is bowled, there are complains about the format and how it will be a drag towards the latter half of the first round.

There were 51 matches in 2007 and there will be 49 matches in 2011. The format that I have in mind have more matches than these - a total of 57 matches with 16 teams. But it will have lesser number of meaningless matches than these two formats.

Here's my format:

16 teams in four groups - A, B, C, D.

Stage 1 is a Double Round Robin, where each team plays the rest in its group twice (like it happened in 1983 and 1987). This stage will thus stage 48 matches (16 teams playing 6 matches each).

The teams that finish top-2 in each group shall advance ahead. The team that finishes 3rd will not advance, but will have automatically qualified to be a part of the next World Cup. The team that finishes 4th will have to play a qualifying round to be eligible to feature in the next World Cup.

Stage 2 is slightly different (inspired by the IPL format this year). Here are the matches in this stage:

Match 1: Pre Quarter Final 1 - A2 v. B2
Match 2: Pre Quarter Final 2 - C2 v. D2

Match 3: Quarter Final 1 - A1 v. B1
Match 4: Quarter Final 2 - C1 v. D1

Match 5: Quarter Final 3 - Winner of PQF 1 v. Loser of QF 1
Match 6: Quarter Final 4 - Winner of PQF 2 v. Loser of QF 2

This will be followed by Semi - finals and the Finals.

Well, this is my format consisting of 57 matches (48 + 6 + 2 + 1). Here are what I see as advantages in this format:

1. It obviously allows a chance to the smaller teams to compete against the bigger teams, and twice at least against each big team in their group. This will give them a chance to improve on their mistakes that they made in the first match, and see if they make any progress in the second "revenge" match, as it used to be called in 1983 and 1987.

2. Unlike 2007 where 16 teams featured, there is a lesser chance of big teams exiting in the first round itself since they will have 6 matches in comparison to 3 that they had back then. So even if they do suffer an upset, they should still comfortably get in to the next round.

3. There will be motivation to fight for the top spot in the group as it would mean the team is one step closer to the semis. And even if the team falters in that step, it will still get another chance to be in the semis because it finished first in the group.

4. For a change, minnows will not be playing just to make up the numbers or "for pride". They will have an added motivation to finish 3rd in the group to secure a spot in the next World Cup. Minnows usually don't get to play matches in such big events where something is at stake. This will be their big chance to play matches for a spot in a premier tournament. If they know that they have qualified to feature in the next World Cup, they can start preparing and planning a squad four years in advance.

The biggest drawback of this format, as I see it, is that it is way too lengthy. 57 matches might be a bit of a drag to many fans. And there aren't a lot of people who would like to see minnows in action in so many matches. After all, high profile matches attract the crowds, not Ireland v. Netherlands games!

However, I had to put forth this idea the moment it struck my head. Usually, such ideas strike me in my sleep and this one was no different! I would love to have your feedback on what you may deem to be other pros and cons of this format or any suggestion or improvement to this format or a completely different format altogether.


Freehit said...

Most people would agree to the idea you are suggesting, for the plain simple reason that it will help in finding the best winner.

The top team in group stage, getting another chance if they mess up their first QF makes sense.

Unknown said...

I started thinking on these lines (about giving an incentive to finish top of the group) after seeing the new IPL format and after reading this comment from Mahek in one of my old blogs about the IPL format.

Sammus said...

I think they should continue with the two groups of 7 but instead of having straight quarter finals they adopt something similar to the AFL finals system. The first matches of the second round would be G1 (A1 v B2), G2 (A2 v B1), G3 (A3 v B4) and G4 (B3 v A4). The losers of G3 and G4 are eliminated. The winners of G1 and G2 go straight to the semis. The losers of these games would then play the winners of G3 and G4 for the other two semi positions. This way teams finishing in the top 2 are granted lives before the semi should they slip up and there is more reason to aim for a higher group placing in round 1.

Unknown said...

Sammus, that also is an interesting idea. It would reduce the number of teams and the number of games, and just to make the bottom half of both the groups a little more interesting, we can have the teams finishing 5th and 6th automatically qualifying for the next World Cup. So only the bottom ranked team has to go through qualifiers.

This will, in turn, create an incentive to finish in top-2, or 3rd-4th, or even 5th-6th!