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ICC meeting in May to decide new World Cup format

Sharda Ugra

March 4, 2011

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Kevin O'Brien is a new Irish hero after his stunning century overcame England, England v Ireland, World Cup 2011, Bangalore, March 2, 2011
The Associates have reacted strongly against the 10-team format © Getty Images

The ICC will meet in May to draft out the structure of the World Cup from 2015 and beyond, incorporating an ODI league and a clause regarding promotion and relegation into the tournament that could radically alter the course, not merely of the ICC's flagship event, but the 50-over format of the game itself. The decision to trim the World Cup down to ten teams has been vehemently criticised, particularly by cricket's smaller nations, but the new structure will ensure they get some level of participation.

The ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat told ESPNcricinfo that the ICC Board had to finalise its last piece of a global ODI league format and arrive at a cut-off for eligibility for the 10 teams due to take part in the 2015 World Cup. The purpose of this "cut-off" is to make both the new league, which will begin after the World Cup, and the ICC's ODI rankings meaningful. The ICC must decide how many teams at the bottom of the top ten ODI rankings will compete in a World Cup qualifying competition with the Associates to enter the World Cup.

Lorgat said the ICC's board would decide what that cut-off should be. "Somewhere we have to make the cut-off. Who knows what that would be yet - eight or nine or seven. The cut-off means that teams ranked higher than the cut-off directly get into the World Cup. Whoever is left out, goes into a qualifier."

Using the current ODI rankings to give a hypothetical example, should the cut-off for the next World Cup be fixed at seven, it would mean that Bangladesh and West Indies would not be guaranteed an automatic place in the next World Cup, but must play a qualifier with Ireland, Zimbabwe, Netherlands, Canada and Kenya to determine which three complete the ten-team field. Lorgat said, "That's where the Associates get the opportunity. They (the Associates) have obviously been disappointed (by the 10 team World Cup) because the more teams you make, the more teams can play (in a World Cup), but that's not top competition."

The first two weeks of this World Cup have produced a tie between two strong teams, an upset by the Irish over England and a scare given to Pakistan by Canada, and Lorgat said it had proved what the ICC had always said, "that there is nothing wrong with 50-over cricket." What the ICC must handle now, he said, were issues "of context, of the right contest, in other words competitive teams, and scheduling. Those are what we need to address rather than the risk of the game becoming redundant."

Despite the explosion of Twenty20 leagues after the 2007 World Cup, Lorgat said he did not think there had ever been a risk for the 50-over format. "We've always said three formats are viable, but what I was concerned about were self-fulfilling prophecies. We need to be careful we don't create self-fulfilling prophecies."

The ODI league will be held over a three-year cycle leading up to the World Cup in its fourth year, with the member nations playing each other at least once over that three-year period, either home or away. The 'home or away' clause gives an allowance to countries like India who continue to keep away from making commitments to host some nations, largely due to reasons of financial unprofitability.

India, in fact, is the only Full Member nation not to have hosted Bangladesh in a Test and the last time their 2011 World Cup co-hosts played an ODI in India was in 1998 as part of a triangular ODI series. Lorgat, however, said: "We can't ignore the fact that there are only 365 days of the year. There are some series that are bigger than others, we cannot forgo the fact that members determine bilaterally how much competition they have with each other." In the ODI league, he said, "India can choose to go and play Bangladesh in Bangladesh, if they happen to lose, that's the result, but that choice is up to the members."

Lorgat said the first few games of the World Cup - until Ireland's defeat of England - had vindicated the ICC's decision to have a ten-team tournament in 2015. He said while he understood the frustration of the Associates, the World Cup had to address a balance between competitive games and extending opportunities across cricket. "You are always going to get a diverse view in terms of what is opportunity and what is competition, because you can't have both. If you provide opportunity, you're going to get some teams who are less competitive, because you have grown the field."

The Associates, he believed, would have a better chance to succeed in the 16-team World Twenty20 because it was a format that "lent itself to competition. There is a bit more spice in that." Fifty-over cricket, he said, made it "difficult" for weaker teams who were trying to grow and yet find a way to "compete on overy occasion." In the 50-over format, Associates, he said, "might pull a blinder once or twice but over a sustained period of time, over a length of a competition, it is unlikely they will compete as strongly as the main teams."

The proposals being discussed by the ICC are part of a "strategic restructure" that has taken place over the last 12-18 months. The World Cup "cut-off'" decision began in the ICC's working committee and is at the moment with the "governance group" because of the impact it could have on the Full Member nations. Cutting off the bottom three from a direct entry into the World Cup may well be strongly resisted from countries like Bangladesh or West Indies, one emerging and the other struggling, who may consider it a means of reducing their global significance and ensuring that stronger, richer nations can only tighten their clique.

One thing, though, is clear. Cricket's World Cup is never going to be the same again.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 105 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 7, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

@Rakesh_sharma....Most of the irish play in county cricket.So theres no question of exposure at high level and they dont ve a domestic structure.Doesnt a test nation require it?Hope u agree.And Bang wouldnt ve been test nation had they not been a bengali nation(Dalmiya faltered being biased).Scouting like football would be good for cricket.Ireland team is more organised than other minnows(Bang Included).India can definitely help Afghanistan by allowing them in domestic competitions.

Posted by Darren on (March 6, 2011, 23:47 GMT)

WIF4EVA makes good comments...as an Australian and having a Kenyan wife I cannot see why the top teams could not play some of the minnows on there trips overseas or alternately send a B side to some of the lesser cricketing nations so they can improve by playing against stronger opposition. For example Australia could visit both Kenya and Zimbabwe on their way to South Africa for 2-3 ODI each or even send a B team to play Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and the other top African nations......and then other B sides touring Europe could play the top Association teams there.....when visiting West Indies, they can play the American associates and so on and so on

Posted by Curtis on (March 6, 2011, 15:12 GMT)

The associate teams play each other very often that is why their standards don't raise as quickly as possible. So why don't the ICC structure their calendar so that the Associate Nations get more exposure to top class cricket by playing the TEST PLAYING NATIONS often. Many people of the test playing nations are not aware of all the teams that play cricket worlwide. The reason why there are upsets in the World Cups is because these Associate Teams adapt and improve to meet the standards of the Test Playing Nations and they do this in a short space of time. Think of what would happen if they get much more exposure than just some of them playing in a World Cup every four years. FIFA encourages lots of friendlies between high and low ranked teams and football clinics that help with development. Come on Mr. Haroon Lorgat and the ICC, please "THINK THINK THINK".

Posted by Curtis on (March 6, 2011, 14:59 GMT)

Good Day everyone. I agree with akelumw 100%. I must say that this is the most intelligent comment I've read today. Now West Indies with their low ICC One Day ranking is looking much more potent than the higher ranked nations. South Africa who beat the West Indies were beaten by England who were beaten by Ireland. Mr. Haroon Lorgat dismissed the stone-throwing incident involving the West Indies team bus as minor. He really shows how he thinks, no wonder why he wants to shorten the WC format. He clearly has no respect for West Indies Cricket and the history behind it which is largely responsible for the present day following and existence of world cricket because of the 70s and 80s West Indies teams. I am supporting West Indies, Pakistan or any of the Associate Nations to win this World Cup.

Posted by Amit on (March 6, 2011, 9:10 GMT)

suggested format : 3 groups of 4 teams each(12 teams), say: A) India, South Africa, Bangladesh, Netherlands B) Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Zimbabwe C) Sri Lanka, England, West Indies, Ireland

top two from each group qualify for super6, dat will make both the group stages as well as the super6 interesting..in super6, every team plays each other once except the team which has qualified from the same group... top 4 from the super6 qualify for the semi-finals and den d finals. two associate teams also get to play in the world cup thus addressing their concerns as well... total number of matches will be 33, much less than this world cup...and it will be interesting as well...plz implement this format!!!!

Posted by Kelum on (March 6, 2011, 5:31 GMT)

ICC is da most ridiculous sports governing body in da world. Since 1987 they hv changed the format of WC 5 times with 4 different formats. Yes.. in the pinnacle tournament of the game. 75-87 it was same. But in 92 one way 96 another, 99 & 2003 another 2007 one more & the biggest joke is they hv reintroduced the format used in 96, which they dropped in 99 again in 2011. so y go back to a format they rejected once. No reserve days for this WC's matches while already planning for the next WC. Just learn from FIFA. format of Football WC hasn't changed since 1974 barring 98. even in 98 they increased da number of teams from 24-32 not the format. While other sports increase the number of teams for WCs, ICC reduces. GREAT. Are they actually there to develop the game or just to plan to earn money. T20 don't help the cause of minnow teams at all. ICC is run by morons who can't understand this simple point.And ICC lives up to the reputation of THE MORONS OF WORLD SPORTS GOVERNING. CONGRATS !!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 6, 2011, 5:09 GMT)

Everyone know in the ICC board that Afghanistan is much stronger team from such and such team but Afghanistan is still not in the Tournament. Therefore, they should find better way for qualifying next world cup.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 6, 2011, 5:07 GMT)

Everyone know in the ICC board that Afghanistan is much stronger team from such and such team but Afghanistan is still not in the Tournament. Therefore, they should find better way for qualifying next world cup.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 6, 2011, 1:17 GMT)

Great idea ( no really) . By the way next time round Ireland will have Morgan, Dockrell, Rankin and Sterling trying to play for England in tests and unavailable for Ireland - (all with $$ invested by Irish cricket)

Any chance we can instigate a "transfer fee" for Irish players picked by England? I support EVERY Irish player who wants to play tests but surely there must be some recompense if Ireland are to continue to develop players only to lose them?

Posted by Syed on (March 5, 2011, 14:08 GMT)

There can be no good formula. With no one visiting Pakistan in the near future, they are at a disadvantage against others. Also the host of the WC is decided several years in advance. What if one of the hosts is # 9 in ranking, then if they loose in the qualifiers!.Or if they automatically qualify, then isn't it unfair to the team just above them in ranking?I would like ICC to look into the double elimination format which is used in the College Baseball playoffs in USA. A group of 4 gives 1 winner. In order to be eliminated, a team has to loose 2 matches. Only the 1st match is scheduled based on ranking. ie 1v4, 2v3. The winners play against each other in the Winners bracket. The loosers play each other in the Loosers bracket. The looser of the looser's bracket is out (loosing 2 games). The looser of the Winner's bracket (with 1 loss) and the winner of the looser's bracket(1 loss) play. Looser out and winner(1 loss) plays the unbeaten. Whoever looses 2 games is out( so 1 or 2 games).

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