March 4, 2015

An all-inclusive blueprint for the 2019 World Cup

A 40-over tournament with 18 teams, played over ten weeks, with a best-of-three final will help identify a true champion team with luck playing little part
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The Associates need to be a part of cricket's showpiece event © ICC

Without hesitation, the highlight of this global event so far has been the performance and spirit of the champion minnows, those fighting for their lives, for their existence in future World Cups.

All this talk about ten teams for future World Cups is absolute bonkers. If we all, just for a minute, stopped and thought about what the cricket world really needs we would soon realise that by cutting back we are only going to further feather the bulging nest of the Big Three.

We must think bigger instead of smaller. We must plan a competition that truly expands the game, and keeps it prominent in people's minds for long periods. We must design a World Cup that takes cricket to a new level of exposure and support.

This is the time to use the rising confidence of the underdogs and force them into the spotlight for good. With T20 becoming the ideal format for domestic cricket globally, this is the age where the game can truly expand. After the Big Three takeover, we now are witnessing the balancing act of the cricketing gods.

My vision is to take the top 18 teams in the world and throw them into the biggest melting pot of all time - a proper world event every four years.

The fans will be able to appreciate the game in its entirety, as they can far more readily commit to a six-hour game than to an eight-hour one

Firstly, a pre-Cup tournament (as is already staged to confirm the participating teams for the main event), consisting of nations like Papua New Guinea, USA, Canada, Namibia, Bermuda, Nepal etc, with the top two advancing to a World Series League, after a series of round-robin league matches against each other.

Any number of nations can be used to co-host the main event, the World Series League, over a ten-week period. For 2019, it would be Great Britain, the Netherlands and other European Associates sharing the hosting rights.

Eighteen teams split into a World Series League; two separate conferences of nine teams based on alternate ranking, all playing each other (eight matches each) for a total of 72 matches over the first 36 days in League play. Two games to be played every day, with a maximum of four-day breaks for each team. Small stadiums/grounds in smaller cities/towns to be utilised, bigger stadiums for when high-ranking teams are competing against each other.

Example with rankings as of today:

Conference One: Australia (1), South Africa (3), New Zealand (5), Pakistan (7), Bangladesh (9), Ireland (11), UAE (13), Netherlands (15) plus one of the qualifiers from among the Associates.

Conference Two: India (2), Sri Lanka (4), England (6), West Indies (8), Zimbabwe (10), Afghanistan (12), Scotland (14), Kenya (16), plus one of the qualifiers from among the Associates.

Keeping the World Cup to ten teams will only strengthen the power of the Big Three © ICC

After a short break, the World Cup finals section is played in England with the top eight carrying their points over and then each playing the four teams from the other conference, over the next two weeks, to decide the four semi-finalists.

One v four, two v three, will then play a best-of-three semi-finals over eight days (potentially six televised games). Followed by the World Cup Grand Final, a best of three, played over eight days on three main grounds, the second match being at Lord's.

Overall, it's a proper competition that lasts ten glorious weeks, enabling constant worldwide coverage, global expansion and a true format to find the world champion team.

To accommodate the fans better, the format must be 40-overs per team, 160 minutes to complete an innings. Thirty-minute interval. Games start at 1pm, or 4pm for day-night fixtures. One ball used. Two bowlers allowed to bowl up to ten overs each maximum. Field restrictions allow two outside the ring in the first ten overs, and five outside for the remainder of the innings.

The 40-over format is the same as the old 50 overs. Instead of scores climbing into the high 300s, the targets will go back to around 250-275, thus falling into line again with all the records and statistics created in the past. By changing the rules to improve the batting entertainment, the overall storytelling of the one-day game has been lost; the game has become too different, too much about batting dominance.

Overall, the fans will be able to appreciate the game in its entirety, as they can far more readily commit to a six-hour game than an eight-hour one. They can see a game that is simple to follow, is balanced for bat and ball, and provides a true contest, with closer matches encouraged.

Mostly the event will grow the game, allowing the lesser lights more exposure while ensuring a champion is found with no chance of luck playing too great a part. The 2019 World Cup winner will indeed have deserved the crown, more than any other World Cup winner in sport.

The timelines for the proposed competition were adjusted shortly after the article was published

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s and early '90s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sujeesh on March 11, 2015, 15:08 GMT

    I would like to suggest a modified version of the nostalgic 92 format for the 2019 world cup. 12 teams to play in world cup finals 8 top odi ranked teams get direct qualification Next 4 through qualification tournament All play each other in round robin 6 matches in each round 8 rounds of matches Total 48 (6×8) league matches only All teams will have 8 matches 8 top teams to play 5 top teams & 3 qualfid teams 4 qualifd teams to play 6 top & 2 qualifiers Equal opportunity for all teams Great chance for comeback No dead rubbers More quality matches The best 4 go through to semifinals.

  • Dummy4 on March 9, 2015, 2:25 GMT

    We already have 20-20, then why to have 40-40 game. There are many fans like me who still enjoy the 50-over format. We wish no tinkering needed in this format. Too much experimentation already carried out over the years, mostly favouring the batsmen. I think the need of the hour to have a serious check on the size and weight of the bat. Some standard should be adopted universally. Also there would be no takers for an 18-team WC unless of course the associate teams are competent enough.

  • Dummy4 on March 8, 2015, 16:55 GMT

    16 teams divided into two groups and then knockout stages to follow 50 over world cup and i believe this is real best for business of cricket !!!!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on March 8, 2015, 16:36 GMT

    CRAZY IDEA - totally meaningless. No one wants to watch a world cup for 10 weeks. Should be a contest between the top 8 or 10 teams. If necessary, just like the FIFA WORLD CUP, make a year long qualifying tournament and let the best 10 gather for a showdown. Do not kill cricket with such unacceptable format. World Cup will be boring with such a long format.

  • philip on March 8, 2015, 8:13 GMT

    A terrible idea. This would be 10 weeks of cricket hell. 50 overs is a good format and if anything the number of overs could be increased not reduced. The more overs, the more technique and ability count. Reduce the number of teams, increase the number of matches played each day and replace day/night matches with day games. The toss is just too important in D/N games to make for a fair contest. The whole tournament should be finished in one month

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2015, 10:48 GMT

    the schedule is good but 40overs is not a great idea. change the rules like past days. one new ball till 35th over. 2or3 fielders outside during first 15 overs. max 5fielders out side ring for remaing inngs. a new rule which i think good is allow two bowlers to bowl 12overs and no bowler can bowl more than half of his allocted overs in a row. in normal circmstances a bowler cant bowl more than 5overs in a row and has to wait for atlest 3overs to bowl again. by this rule if a bowler has a very good day and bowling well if he bowl straight then match can become 1side. giving bating team some time can turn match can score vital runs and match will be back on track. Imagine STARC was bowling well with new bowl nd took 3wickets in his first 5overs let the score be 30/3 if he continue to bowl it will be a havoc. give him space now batsmen can be a bit free can settle down in that space and scorearound 240odd which is competative

  • Cric on March 7, 2015, 9:58 GMT

    I am a big supporter of Associate nations and Affiliates. But if anyone says these changes will help Associates grow, thats absolutely wrong. Tweaking ODIs will result in it becoming closer to T20s (it is almost coming there already). If that happens, the difference between limited overs formats and test cricket will get even bigger. The smaller nations will never get to learn the test format. And the test matches will remain just with the top 5 or 6 nations. The ODIs and tests should stay as it is. Just limit the number of T20 games played, audience will definitely switch to ODIs and tests. ODI format is gold, tests are priceless. ODI format is being made boring because of the current rules, not because of the format. Look at the Pak vs SA match today. It was worth so much because of the pitch; because of rain the pitch came alive and brought bowlers into the game. But most of the ODIs, cricket is played on highways with stupid rules. That is killing the joy.

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2015, 6:52 GMT

    this is very good idea and helps to grow game in associates nation

  • Dummy4 on March 6, 2015, 19:31 GMT

    Not keen on the 40 over idea. Keep it at 50. Whats the point in changing it. I disagree about the stats because none of them will make sense any more. I think this would be too long, even longer than it is now with too many dud games. I think the way the tournament is now has turned out pretty good, but I do think that the idea that a team that has won all its warmup games can get knocked out so easily in the second round is wrong, so I do like the idea of keeping the points and playing all the teams in the other pool for the quarter final or super 8 stage . 1st then plays 4th 2nd plays 3rd in a knockout best of 3games. And then the two final teams have a best of 5.

  • Cric on March 6, 2015, 19:26 GMT

    I think ODI format is great. It is a perfect balance between slogging and playing sensible cricket. Turning it to 40 overs a side game or two innings of 20 overs a side game will be a big blow for bowlers. That will be like bowlers trying to get 10 wickets in 40 overs or 20 wickets in 40 overs, too much to ask. Add to that fielder restrictions, free-hits, type of balls used (mostly which don't swing or swing for 3-4 overs.. oh, and no reverse swing as well.. gr8), bat sizes etc. Above all, is cricket just about 4s and 6s? How about a great swinging ball which batsman just avoids nicking? All the time we are seeing records broken from batting side: fastest 50, fastest 100, highest score in an innings etc. When was the last time you saw a bowling record being broken? When are we going to see a next Akram or a McGrath or a Warne or a Walsh? Why tweak ODIs and tests? Kill them once for all. I would be happy switching to another sport.

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