Well, having received some interesting comments on my previous post, and having watched Ireland & Bangladesh proceed, and India & Pakistan bomb out (all fully deserved), here is my proposal for a better system:
Just for the record, the majority of previous upset wins in World Cups have either been fixed, or been genuine “one-offs”, rather than an indication of a team moving up the world ranks. I hope this will be proved wrong this year, with Bangladesh finally showing signs of maturing as a cricketing nation.
My goal with this alternate structure is to minimize the number of inconsequential matches, shorten the tournament (it’s way too long), and give the minnows a genuine opportunity to use the World Cup to grow and mature as cricketing nations.
What we start with is splitting the pool into two groups, based on world ICC rankings at a given date prior to the tournament. The top six countries automatically go straight into the second stage of the competition. In this case, it would be SA, Aus, NZ, Pak, SL, and Ind – call it Group A.
The remaining full members, plus the minnows, go into the group matches. So they would be Eng, WI, Bang, Zim, Ken, and then Neth, Ire, Scot, Ber, Can. These are evenly split into two groups of 5 (call them Groups B1 & B2), and they each play each other. So each team plays 4 matches for a total of 8 matches in this round. When this is complete, the top two teams from each group advance to the next stage, and join Group A for the “Super 10s”.
The Super 10s works just like the Super 8s: every team plays every other team once. Teams that were in Group B take points against teams that have also advanced with them into Group A. After that stage, the top 4 ranked teams go into semis and then a final, as currently.
The second stage will have a total of 43 matches. However, 15 of these (between the top 6 teams) can already be played in parallel with the Group B round.
The advantages are as follows:
- There are fewer “david vs goliath” games.
- Countries are rewarded for their pre-comp rankings, which makes the lead-up to the World Cup more interesting, and a greater focus on the points system.
- Minnows get to play one extra game.
- The games they do play are against lower ranked countries, therefore might be more competitive, and allow them to advance incrementally.
- There is room in the second round for one or two minnows who are rewarded with the opportunity to play games against all the other countries.
- There are 3 more games than in the current system, but because of the structure, they can be scheduled over a shorter period. The current structure has way too many breaks and that makes it very difficult for teams to maintain momentum through the tournament.
This all results in a fairer system for all teams, more competitive games, and a shorter tournament. Which can only be good for cricket!