The FIFA World Cup is watched all over the world, by millions of different people. It is a huge sporting event that has 32 different nations involved, competing against one another.
Football is not a huge interest of mine, but the possibility for various reactions does make it interesting and worth watching.
The Cricket World Cup Format
When it comes to the ICC Cricket World Cup, how does it compare? To begin with, the format of the Cricket World Cup has been messed with one too many times; cricket’s premier ODI tournament has contained just three varying formats in past three editions.
The ICC lacks a reasonable, suitable format, even though there have been a wide variety of different numbers of teams, matches and group structures lately in cricket. In 1975 and 1979, there were only eight teams in a single round-robin format, and in 1983 and 1987 there were eight with a double round-robin format instead.
Following South Africa’s surprising inclusion in the World Cup, each of the nine teams included faced the other, one time, in order to determine the semi-finalists of the Cup. In 1996, there were only twelve teams and quarter-finals, while 1999 and 2003 had twelve and fourteen teams, which lead to a Super Six round both times.
In 2007, sixteen teams were divided into four separate groups, followed by a Super Eight round to determine the final four. 2011 saw a reversion to this format, and this will also occur in 2015.
However, the idea which has been put out there in regards to 2019’s game, takes the cake with how ridiculous it is. It is set to include only ten teams in a round-robin format, leading to the determination of the top four.
This is irresponsible decision making from the ICC, and the cricket World Cup doesn’t have much of a chance of matching its football counterpart if things run this way.
New Structure for World Cup
Following the implementation of a new internal governance structure, those who had power years ago used the work ‘meritocracy’ in interviews and press conferences.
Clearly, bringing back the hollowness of the 2019 World Cup format would be the right way to introduce this meritocracy that they so strongly believe in. If they don’t, N. Srinivasan, the new chairman, will again show themselves as just after the money, and as hypocrites. It is not fair to remove half of the world out of what is called the World Cup for a reason.
The 2019 is said to contain the top eight ranked sides who will qualify automatically. This will lead to at least a dozen Associate teams who will then compete for the final two spots in the tournament.
A Place in the World Cup
If there is hardly a chance of even qualifying for a place in the World Cup, then how will developing teams, such as Nepal and Papua New Guinea be able to improve themselves and feel what the world stage is actually like?
So, what do I suggest as an alternative? Well, the 2011 and 2015 formats are not well thought-out, with fourteen teams playing up to six games in the group competition, and then the top four from each of the two groups entering into the quarter-finals with a sudden death match – out or in.
This consistency is not very rewarding when the stakes get high. A team that is extremely successful during the group phase will be easily disqualified if they have a bad day. Also, coupled with never-ending corruption in the tournaments, teams easily feel motivated to drop a game in the league stage because that will not stop them from qualifying for knockout rounds.
World Cup in the Past
The 2007 World Cup format, in my opinion, was organized very well. Played in the West Indies, it has a very effective 4 x 4 group structure (four teams in each of the four groups competing in three matches), and then halved.
However, the specialty wore off in the second round, in the Super Eight portion of the tournament. This is when each of the teams that qualified, played against every other qualifier that was not part of its group.
This meant a total of six matches in the second round, giving the World Cup a very over packed look and feel. Many even considered it a failure due to this long, dragged out tournament format. The game killer was definitely the unneeded, extra long second round.
In my opinion, the best structure in 2007 would have been to stick to a more condensed outlook for the Super Eight. It would have definitely been more successful if the first round had had more matches than the second round.
An example would be the eight teams being divided into two groups of four each in the second round, giving each team three matches in each of the two rounds. Six games to prove their skill and worth for the semi-finals seems like a reasonable and sensible format to me.