Tuesday, 24 May 2011

How many teams should be there in the Cricket World Cup (2015)

How many teams should play the cricket world cup? What should be the format of cricket world cup? Do the minnows gain anything from playing in the World Cup? Should cricket be worried about mismatches when other sports don't seem to worry about it?

These are the many question that come into mind when anyone thinks of the format of Cricket World Cup. Where should cricket look upto and work on the format. So many formats have been tried but the perfect solution doesn't seem to be there. Since 1992 World Cup there have been a different format for each world cup starting from a 9 nation 1992 WC, reaching a peak in 2007 with 16 teams and then reducing by 2 teams to 14 in 2011 WC. Now the most disgusting thing is being discussed - the 10 Nation World Cup. Not only does it sound disgusting, it is against the whole concept of ICC working on expansion of the game.

To look for the right number of teams in the World Cup (First we decide on Number of Teams and then format will be based on number of teams). The sports I have picked up are all field sports with large field sizes so that helps in normalizing many factors. The sports picked are- Football, Baseball, Hockey and Rugby.

The strength of each sport and its spread can be determined by number of countries that have won the world cup and number of teams that have reached the semifinals. Based on these ratio I will work the whole calculations.

But before going ahead with the calculations we should remember these formats
  • Cricket World Cup matches takes much higher amount of Time hence we have to go little conservative
  • There are 3 formats of Cricket-ODI, T20 and Tests
  • The other 2 formats also have / will have a World Championship - ICC World T20 & soon to come Test Championship
  • For the T20 we show match the most aggressive sport
  • For Test Championship, since more time, less chance of any upsets we simply should be very conservative in number of teams
Working on the number of teams in world cup and number of winners and semifinalist the following table has

been prepared

Game WC 
Top 4 
Winners Finalist Semi Finalists WC Size to Winner Ratio WC Size to Top 4 Finishers Ratio CWC 
Football 32 24 8 4 12 4 1.33 20 12
Rugby 20 8 4 1 3 5 2.50 25 23
Baseball 16 16 8 5 3 2 1.00 10 9
Hockey 12 11 5 2 4 2.4 1.09 12 10
Cricket 9 5 1 3

 The 3rd column shows the present number of teams in the World Cup.The 4th Column shows the number of countries that finished in Top 4 or the Semi Finalists and next column shows number of countries that have won the world cup

It is known football or soccer is the most popular gamer around the world. As we can see from the table it is quite competitive. Though just 8 teams have won the world cup but 24 teams have reached the top 4. It shows it is not a closely guarded game in some nations rather very global.

While the other games are quite limited to some countries. Rugby has 8 teams which made to Semi Finals and 4 have won the cup. So as compared to football which has a ratio of 3:1 for Semi Finalists to Winner, the other games have a ratio of around 2. Cricket has even worse a ratio of 1.8.

Now we see the ratio of Total Teams in the World Cup to the total winner. Here we see Rugby is really aggressive. It has the highest ratio of 5:1. This is evident from the fact that Rugby has been very aggressive to expand into new countries. Hence the same format. This same aggressiveness should be used by the T20 format of Cricket. This means T20 should have 25 Teams

While Rugby is really aggressive we can see that Baseball and Hockey which presently are really not bullish about expanding into new markets have very conservative world cups. Baseball while is limited to few countries with huge GDP's like USA, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China, hence feels no need to expand and on other hand Hockey is trying to save the game even in its traditional nations. Test Cricket should also follow such a conservative approach since it is highly technical hence the number of teams come out at 10 to 12. Since Test Cricket is 5 days in length, I would even reduce the number of teams for Test Championship to 5 to 6 Teams only.

Football is a established game however follows a middle path. It is neither conservative and nor too aggressive. It has a ratio of 4. Following this approach Cricket World Cup should have 20 teams

But but but, in soccer we have 24 Semi Finalists and 8 Winners a ratio of 4 where as in Cricket we have that Ratio of 1.8. Plus the length of football game is 2 Hrs while Cricket is 8 Hrs. Hence we cannot simply copy paste the approach. A look at number of teams in the World Cup to the number of Semi Finalists and applying the same ratio to cricket, we get number of teams in World Cup as 12. I would rather pick up this number as it would reflect the ideal number of teams. A middle path can also be taken which throws 16 teams since we want expansion based on 50 over World Cup too.

Based on second approach Rugby throws a number of number of teams as 23 (As compared to 25 in previous approach), hence for T20 world cup being aggressive we can have the number of teams as 24

Similarly on second approach in Baseball and Hockey throws the number of teams as 9 or 10 which is similar to last approach. Again the length of each game matter. We should reduce the number of teams to 4 to 6

Hence based on this analysis I would put up the number of teams for World Cup as follows

1. ICC Cricket World Cup:- 16 Teams
2. ICC World T20:- 24 Teams
3. ICC Test Championship:- 4 to 6 Teams

Hence Mr Haroon Lorgat, kindly do not keep the 2015 World Cup as a 10 nation. It would be utterly disgusting. Rather take the number to 16. If you are not willing to be that aggressive then you have to have minimum 12 teams. Wake up ICC

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