Ah, the Cricket World Cup. Every four years, the world’s best teams slog it out in hope of being crowned “champions”, following a rigorous (and fair) qualifying process. The group stages are lengthy, but the groups are divided so that most games matter and the “minnow” sides have some sort of chance to progress to the next round. It’s a fantastic thing, because it can extend cricket’s footprint much further. You gotta love this…
…and then you wake up from your dream. Love the Cricket World Cup as you might (you’re allowed to; it’s fun), but the qualifying process involved, as well as the way this year’s tournament is structured, is sadly flawed.
This year’s tournament sees the 14 teams competing divided into just two groups. That means, for example, even if England play like the dog’s breakfast, but manage to scrape wins over Scotland, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, they will most likely qualify. The same goes for almost all of the other Test playing nations. The top four teams in the group stages will progress to the knockout rounds and set themselves up for being gifted at least $300,000 in prize money. Those who get knocked out early on will earn just $35,000.
The format is quite clearly weighted against the progress of associates and smaller teams. It is insulting to these teams to make it so blatantly obvious that they are simply there as window dressing. The ICC quite clearly has no intention of progressing the game and growing it in countries outside the money spinners. Cynics would say that the method to this madness is down to the tournament needing the “big” teams to progress in order to ensure that revenue is generated. But there are ways and means to still make the tournament work without insulting the smaller teams.
That format was used during the 2007 World Cup and, low and behold, some of the little guys progressed at the expense of the big guns. Pakistan were sent packing in the group stages, with Ireland progressing, while India were knocked out with Bangladesh progressing. Was it perfect? No. But it certainly was less insulting. The tournament lost the plot somewhat from there, with a “Super Eight” stage rather than the logical quarter-final round.
Click here to read the complete article at Daily Maverick.