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Ask TMC: The World Cup – What’s your verdict?

The World Cup is now set to be a ten-team tournament. The World Twenty20, which is the route through which the ICC plans to globalise cricket, to give opportunities, is officially a 16-team tournament, but in practice only ten of them will play in the main spectacle thanks to a qualifying tournament that looks remarkably similar to the one before the World Cup. Here, I ask the Third Man writers for their views on the whole mess.

Jeff Snowden

It’s tough and I think it depends on the rest of the International Cricket structure. For ODI World Cup I think there are too many non value games, far more then big upsets, none of which generally make a difference to the outcome. As you say Nik, the cream still rises to the top. But I do sometimes think there are too many games where I just don’t bother watching. Is this solely because of minnows playing in it or that the format isn’t right to ensure that there are less non value games and we get to the business end slightly quicker. I think Asia is an exception to the rule but I would fear that attendance for a lot of the games in the World Cup are low and boards and counties struggle money wise enough as it is without such big events and a severe lack of attendance. Look at the West Indies world cup. Boards are forced to charge a certain price for tickets and locals will often be unable to pay these prices and therefore the grounds are half empty. In 2007 it was a disaster for the West Indies. Rules for admission were that you weren’t able to leave the ground and come back and traditionally over there, people would go, watch some cricket, leave for an hour or so to work and earn some much needed cash, then go back. The ICC regulations on the tickets meant they couldn’t do this, so they truly couldn’t afford the day then. In that respect the ICC have to work harder at running the tournament appropriately and devising a format which will help the popularity of all games or as many as possible.

If you want to give the minnows a chance and have a proper world cup, then like football, everyone who is a member of the ICC should play in qualifiers for their appropriate continents and that includes the top sides playing them as well. To compare it to Football is chalk & cheese unless you do this. San Marino would never appear in the World Cup finals as they’d never get beyond this. Possibly one for debate, as the whole ODI structure would need to change in order to accommodate this. But in football these countries all play in qualifiers amongst the best from their continent and merit their inclusion in the final. Cricket at the moment is a very different structure and would need to change hugely to do this, but if you want it to be similar then that’s what needs to happen.

As for Ireland, I’m not convinced just yet but agree they’re going the right way. Even their own plan is to be there for 2020, so not sure they believe they’re ready just yet? They sometimes play within the 1st class structure in England but aren’t overly successful so think they’re still a little way from being consistent and having the infrastructure to move up just yet. There is of course the argument as to whether they would be better then Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, but Zimbabwe were already there and had played reasonably well earlier in their introduction. Bangladesh was the result of the Asian countries voting them in and without the 1st class game in their country have struggled in the longer formats. I don’t believe there is a 1st class structure in Ireland yet but a reasonable club structure and the plans are afoot to create a first class structure. I think until this they may actually go backwards if they were to go into full test status now. But they have a long term plan and I think that’s a sensible approach and will produce better longevity for them at that level and a better chance of some success.

In regard to T20 I wonder if it’s better to have this as a completely separate tournament? Maybe some of these smaller countries may concentrate on this to start with and have a chance of a bit more success earlier on and get some more money in to their cricket and more popularity to the game from the younger generations?

Great topic for discussion!

Martin Jones

I have always been vocal in my views: I think that it is flat out wrong to make cricket such an exclusive members-only club. Despite the best efforts of the development officers, there is nothing they can really do without the backing of the Full Members. Those self same Full Members want to have as big a piece of the cake as they possibly can, leaving only crumbs and a tiny bit of icing for the Associates.

Twenty20 is the product most likely to appeal to the masses, but I would argue that upsets are at least as likely in One-Day Internationals. In a Twenty20, the win will often be decided by one explosive performance, but how many Associates have a Gayle or a McCullum? ODIs, on the other hand, can be won by teams that are greater than the sum of their parts; like the Kiwis, like Zimbabwe in the ’90s, like the Kenyans in their hayday.Associates need opportunities in both formats, and currently, they’re getting opportunities in neither.

Nigel Armitage

Yeah, I agree with the consensus that limiting the World Cup to a maximum of two Associate Nations is not right at all. It is tricky, as certainly in the 50 over format, you can have some terribly one-sided games and that is not going to attract the crowds that we so desperately need, but the fact is, Ireland, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and to an extent, Afghanistan and the Netherlands can compete with the big boys and are unlikely to get rolled over for say, less than 50. That said, doubtless Ireland and Bangladesh will be the two ‘lucky’ nations to appear next year in Australia and I have to question whether the other three would do that well, much like any Nepal, China, Italy or USA team..?! Maybe the ICC are just conforming to the sad state of affairs that not enough money is being poured into these lesser Nations, who could step up to the big stage with support and facilities.

So, for the 50 over game, not really right but I can understand, but the T20, that is very surprising and not right at all. T20 is a great leveler and if certain things go right, anyone can beat anyone else on the day. This has to change to at least 12 teams, if not 14 and change quickly, or as public opinion seems to trend, the game will not spread far and wide as it should.

Finally, regarding the ongoing row over the Ireland players being picked off by England, I don’t think this is an issue for discussion under this forum. There is no question over Ireland’s place in the top ten Nations and that is not going to change any time soon. There will be plenty of good cricketers coming through in the future. However, as an England fan, I have to agree, it is plainly ridiculous that Rankin and Morgan, who are as Irish as the ole’ Blarney Stone itself, are now playing for England, much more so than the KPs and Trotts of this world, even if their situations aren’t all that different. As usual, it is all about money and here’s hoping things change for the better for Ireland as they have every chance of getting Test status in the future.

Nikhil Puri

I think this is bad. Every global competition, including the Football World Cup has several teams that aren’t as strong as the some of top-tier teams. The last several Football World Cups have had multiple teams with no realistic chance of winning the tournament. In fact, only 8 countries have ever won the Football World Cup when 76 countries have taken part in it atleast once. So the argument of cutting it back to 10 countries doesn’t make sense to me.

Take the most recent World Cup in 2011 in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. England lost to Ireland and Bangladesh, but then beat South Africa. South Africa beat India but failed to make it past the QF stage after choking (once again) against New Zealand. However, the two teams that were widely recognized as the best in the competition, India and Sri Lanka, competed for the WC final in a sell-out crowd, and the game was a close, well-contested one that went down to the wire.

The minnow teams all add to the World Cup, and I see no reason to exclude them. We have to make cricket a global sport, and the only way to do that is to give these countries exposure on the world stage by including the best of the rest in the World Cup!

On another note, Ireland have done enough in my opinion to be considered for test cricket. I am not certain, but I have read emails that talk about their first-class or league structure being strong, and as long as they have enough interest for cricket in the country and have players interested, I think they would be a great addition to the world stage. I think it is appalling that Irish players are allowed to play for England. By that right, Pakistanis or Sri Lankans should be allowed to play for India….or kiwis for Australia (I know that has happened, but sounds ludicrous).

Final opinion: We need the minnow teams and a 14-team world cup should remain in the current format

Umair Dar

I think for ODIs limiting teams for the World Cup makes sense. For Twenty20s, I’d have more teams as it is the most easily accessible form of the game and so lends itself naturally to bringing in new fans.

But the Ireland players getting picked off issue / and any other team picking off any other player – that is absolutely unacceptable as far as I’m concerned. If this continues then teams like Ireland will always remain handicapped.

Vivek Jaiswal

I agree. Not a good idea. The main purpose of T20 cricket is the global growth of Cricket. Especially in places like the U.S. Imagine if the U.S. fully invested in Cricket. A very young ARod playing Cricket and becoming a professional Cricketer could be an interesting premise. One day is in that middle ground of T20 and Tests so once again for the growth of Cricket it should continue to have many teams. Now Test cricket and the format test cricket championship is taking is indeed limited to the best of the best.

– – –

There are varied views regarding the World Cup. Some people want to see more Associates, and others don’t. Where everyone agrees, though, is that the extra qualifier for the World Twenty20 is flat out wrong. Of course, the more views we can get the better. Please feel free to continue the conversation in the comments below.

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4 Responses to "Ask TMC: The World Cup – What’s your verdict?"
  1. Reply bibek September 26, 2013 12:00 pm

    Stupid decision by ICC. I think ICC wants just 10 teams in world cricket; No associates nor affiliates.

  2. Reply Kimemia Maina September 26, 2013 16:27 pm

    The real elephant in the room is why should some teams get a free pass to any world cup while others have to jump through an increasing number of hoops. Let the best 8, 10, 16 or whatever t20 national teams qualify for the T20 world cup, and the best 8, or 10, or 16 or whatever number 50 over a side qualify to its world cup. This business of Test status entitling a small elite to things that have nothing to do with test cricket is severely strangling the game as a whole.

    • Reply Martin September 28, 2013 16:40 pm

      Agree that there shouldn’t be so many automatic qualifiers on the basis that they currently get their free passes. If they’re going to qualify automatically, it has to be on the basis of how they performed previously.

  3. Reply Eitan Shai September 26, 2013 16:52 pm

    I feel a 10 team ODI World Cup is OK, providing they have a good qualification system. However, a T20 World Cup needs to have a format like the soccr World Cup- 32 teams in 8 groups followed by knockouts.