India and Pakistan, Australia and South Africa find themselves in different groups for the 2011 World Cup. The groupings for the tournament, to be held in the subcontinent, were approved on the second day of the ICC board meeting in Johannesburg. The 14 teams have been divided into two groups of seven.
The competition will be shorter than its 2007 version, with the ICC revealing a new format that will reduce the number of games from 51 to 49, and possibly lessen the duration by at least a week. The 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean was criticised for dragging on too long; it had lasted for six weeks with the 16 participating teams divided into groups of four, and had two teams from each progressing to the Super Eights stage.
"We're on record as saying that we acknowledged that 2007 might have been longer than desired. So we want to take a week off, if not more," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said after the meeting. "We wanted to get the balance correct. We had one proviso that we would not have wanted more than two of the subcontinent teams in any one group. The rest depends on where you stand in the rankings and you use the formula that allocates the teams, dependent on your positioning in the ranking tables."
David Morgan, the ICC president, added: "We're already certain that it will be shorter. You can be sure that we at the ICC had learnt from past mistakes. I mean there is no doubt that the ICC World Cup in the Caribbean was unsuccessful in some aspects."
At the meeting, the ICC also lauded the success of the World Cup's miniature version, the ICC Champions Trophy, which had earlier won the endorsement of Ricky Ponting and Daniel Vettori. "I think most experts of the game and the opinion-makers are now convinced the ICC Champions Trophy definitely has a place in the cricket calendar," Morgan said. "It also gives me immense pleasure to say the quality of cricket we have seen in the last 14 days proves that 50-over format can comfortably co-exist with the traditional five-day Test and the short 20-over formats."
Groups for the 2011 World Cup
Group A - Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada, Kenya.
Group B - India, South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland, Netherlands.