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    March 28, 2007

    Shock and horror and a format for the 2011 World Cup

    It was with total amazement, shock and horror that I read the last line of this report in the BBC about the impact of India's first round exit from the World Cup.
    Sony's Kunal Dasgupta now says the format of the tournament is flawed.

    "In a 48-day tournament, if teams like India and Pakistan are out for playing bad cricket in two matches, there is something really wrong. We were against this format and even told the International Cricket Council to reconsider it," he said.
    It's been pretty obvious for a while that television runs most things in cricket, including scheduling. It is perhaps time to congratulate the ICC for sticking to their schedule instead of kowtowing to the demands of sponsors, rights owners, etc.

    There is nothing wrong with the fact that the first round has only 3 games per team. India and Pakistan are out because their opponents played better. Apparently the ICC had framed up this schedule after getting feedback from players and boards that the previous World Cup, which had two groups of six teams each, had the potential to have too many games involving minnow teams.

    I'm of the opinion that weaker teams should play in the World Cup, but they should also get enough games against stronger opposition in the year leading up to the World Cup. At the same time, we ought to ensure that the World Cup isn't a tournament where around 50% of the teams have absolutely no chance of getting anywhere near the knock-out stage.

    My solution, for the 2011 World Cup in the Indian sub-continent is to merge the schedule of the 2003 World Cup (Super Six stage), the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy (having a qualification round) and the current one (a round-robin in the second stage).

    The top 8 from the 11 ODI playing nations don't have to go through a qualification round. The qualifiers from the ICC Trophy (only the finalists) play against the 3 ODI playing nations who didn't make it to the main draw. So that means 5 teams in the qualifier round. Play a round-robin (10 games) and the top two teams make it to the main draw.

    The main draw would have a total of 10 teams, split into 2 groups of 5 teams each. They play a round-robin and the format becomes similar to the 2003 World Cup Super Six stage (six teams qualify - now 3 from each group, teams carrying over points against the other team which qualified, play against the other 4 teams which qualified etc.). Then the top 4 get to the semis and the winners of the semis play in the final. This'd mean a total of 32 games (20 in the first round, 9 in the second, 2 semi finals and 1 final). Even if we include the 10 qualifier round games, that's a total of 42 games. Compare this to the current tournament - 51 games in all, 24 of them in the first round and an equal number in the second round.

    In terms of number of days the tournament would run, that'd obviously reduce too. The 2007 World Cup goes on for around 45 days. This could be significantly reduced to around a month (two first round games per day - 10 days of playing time, 9 days for the second round, 3 for the knock out games). Add in reserve days for all games and two rest days per team and we'd be looking at around 30-odd days. I don't have those details worked out though.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 1:21 pm |
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    5 sledge(s):

    In your proposal, do teams carry points from the qualifying tournament through to the Super Six?

    My idea: it's supposed to be a 'cup' competition - there's already a league. So it could just be the same as it is now, but turning into a knockout tournament after the first group stage, with no Super Eight. This reduces it to a far leaner 31 games - it could easily fit in one month! They should make at least two games per day mandatory for the group stages.

    By Blogger Geoff (28-Mar-2007, 3:01:00 pm)  

    No, I don't think the qualifying tournament points should count.

    How many teams get into the second stage, if it is a knock out then?

    By Blogger Jagadish (28-Mar-2007, 3:59:00 pm)  

    The same as now, two from each group. Eight teams means four quarter-finals, two semi-finals, and a final. The only problem is that cricket World Cups tend to be co-hosted, hence the ludicrous situation of the Super Eight fixtures being decided by seeding rather than performance in the first stage, to make it easier to plan.

    This can be mitigated, at least to some extent, by splitting the draw in two. A1 (team that finishes first in group A) plays B2; B1 plays A2; etc. In the semi-finals, A1/B2 plays C1/D2, and B1/A2 plays D1/C2.

    By Blogger Geoff (28-Mar-2007, 4:23:00 pm)  

    Quarter-final, semi and final does sound reasonable. But that means one off day could mean a team is out in the second round. You ideally want to give the teams a fairly even chance of getting to the semis, not based on one poor session of an hour or so ...

    By Blogger Jagadish (28-Mar-2007, 11:31:00 pm)  

    The way I see it, one off day cost Pakistan in the first round. It's a cup competition, so it's not fair. That's what the rankings are for. I just think that the tournament goes on too long.

    A cup format simultaneously makes it easier for any team to win it (just three consecutive wins after the group stages needed), while making it harder for any given team to win it (one slip after the groups and you're out). To me, these are desirable properties.

    By Blogger Geoff (29-Mar-2007, 11:55:00 am)  

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