The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 fever is on! This time around sub-continent got to host the mega sporting event which is the longest so far spanning over one and half months – probably IPL (Indian Premier League) is the only other cricketing – or any other sport – event which is of longer duration than this world cup. Unfortunately, due some poor quality of teams and unresponsive pitches, this event is turning out to be a major disappointment.
Cricket sells in the sub-continent, especially in India, no matter how frequently it’s being played. The spectators turns out in huge volumes to watch matches in the stadium and millions others get hooked on to their TV sets, even when a match between two unknown or unpopular teams is going on. This mentality of the Indian crowd is exactly what sells IPL.
When it comes to an international event that occurs only once in four years, people expect some minimum standard in the way in which the tournament is conducted. Unfortunately, the last couple of world cups have been disappointing due to multiple reasons, the main one being the inclusion of the so called ‘minnows’ or associate members. The duration of the event got drastically increased due to the inclusion of these teams that haven’t really brought any value to the game of cricket or for that matter even improving the game in those countries.
We need a shorter World cup event
Considering the number of nations that has been playing the game of cricket, I strongly believe that there needs to be only 8 teams that can participate in the World cup. This will make sure that the event is really eventful and exciting with 8 quality teams playing each other in say two pools – something like what was happening in the initial editions of the World cup.
Well, of course there are some associate member teams which has performed reasonably well in patches but their game quality hasn’t quite improved over the years. For example, for years there has been teams like Kenya, UAE, Canada etc playing the game but are they really improving over the years? Even Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have started deteriorating their quality of cricket. In my opinion, only Sri Lanka has been the real improved team over the last twenty five years that grew from minnow status to a decent test team – especially after producing some great leadership and amazing players in the last twenty years.
I am not saying that the minnows should be totally stopped. But there has to be a case whereby the incompetent ones are eliminated pretty fast in the first 5-6 days of the tournament and may be one out of them picked to play the round robin format with the other teams. At the moment, there are 42 matches being played in two pools and half of that matches have very predictable result.
The other option is to have a World cup qualifier or pre-event for all teams and top 8 teams selected. Yet another approach could be choosing only the top ranked 8 teams or so by default.
I hope ICC looks into this matter without getting pressurized by the power-hungry, money-hungry BCCI and those who want to mint money out of such long tournaments – of course at the expense of general public’s sentiments and rich sponsors. At the end, if they don’t change the format, it’s not going to benefit the game anyway.