- From: Mike Holmans <mike@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 05 Apr 2007 23:31:16 +0100
The format of the CWC has changed just about every time, and there are
enough people moaning about this one to make it highly likely that it
will be different yet again in 2011.
So let's consider the design requirements.
First, I think there has to be a Final. I understand Andrew's view
that a league system is jolly fair, but this is a CWC and the Law of
If there is a league system, one of two results will occur in
In the first, New Zealand win n matches off the reel and are
guaranteed the title with two rounds to go. They go on a three-day
bender to celebrate and are hardly in any fit state when they play
England in the penultimate round and lose, though they wake up in time
to trounce India in the last round, thereby handing the runner-up
place to England.
In the second, there is a three-way tie at the top:
P W L T N/R Pts NRR
Ind 11 7 3 0 1 15 +4.143
NZ 11 7 3 1 0 15 +1.506
Eng 11 7 3 1 0 15 +1.504
Two of India's losses were to NZ and Eng, so they lose out on the
head-to-head (Eng and NZ having tied), and it becomes painfully clear
that although Eng won by 10 wickets with 8 overs to spare in the D/L
shortened 22-over game against USA, NZ have ended up with the better
NRR because they had the full 50 overs against the Americans and were
able to win by 287 runs. NZ are thus the winners, England second and
In either case, the CWC ends in a welter of recrimination and protest
at the unfairness of it all.
At least with a Final, you get a very simple decision based on who won
a cricket match and don't run the risk of a week of meaningless
matches with the title already decided.
You could do something like 1992 and have an all-play-all league and
then have either the top four or the top two play off with Final, and
But there are already 11 Full ODO teams, and if you round it up to 12
with Ireland you have to stage 66 league matches, and after about the
halfway stage at least half the games will effectively be meaningless
because neither team has any serious chance of progressing.
There's no point in trying to restrict it to an 8-team tournament.
Part of the charm of a CWC is getting to have a laugh at the worst of
the minnow teams and raising one's eyebrows at how good one or two of
them actually are. And anyway, by 2011 that 21-year-old Bangladesh
team will be 25 and will have won some odos against all the other
teams and will hardly be able to be classed as minnows any more.
So you need a first stage, in which the minnow teams get to play a few
games, and a second stage in which most of the matches should be
Designing the break between the stages is the interesting part. You
have to design it on the basis that India will fail to get through the
first stage. Not because you *expect* them to fail to qualify for
stage 2 but because they *might* and you don't need to have the bottom
fall out of your financial projections if they do. If they do get
through, all well and good and you presumably rake in a whacking
profit, but let's not rely on it, OK?
With nine top teams, it makes sense to go back to a Super Six, formed
from the top two teams from each of three groups. Since three of the
top nine (at least) will fail to qualify for the Six, it's not quite a
national disgrace to finish third in the group.
The question then becomes how big to make the groups. Three groups of
five gives you thirty group matches, of which India play in four,
three are between minnows and 18 are pre-written as top team-minnow
mismatches. Groups of six give you 45 matches, five featuring India,
nine between minnows and 27 mismatches. Two groups of eight, the
format used in 1999 and 2003, gives you an imbalance with one pool
having five top teams and one having four. There are 56 games, 27 of
which are mismatches and nine are between minnows, but at least India
play seven games.
3x5 looks like the best option to me. You can get the whole tournament
done and dusted in a month that way: this seven-week marathon is just
too long, and we could do with a more concentrated tournament: there
will be a whole lot more people able to take four or five weeks off
and see the whole thing than can do it with seven weeks of island
hopping in the Caribbean.
Trouble is, if India only get four games, there's not a lot of
advertising time to sell.
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