T20WC format

The format for this years T20 World Cup has been widely derided as a farce. And rightly so; it never really made sense and especially with the rain intervening it has seen the West Indies go through to the second round without even having completed a match. (England benefited from a similar situation two years ago when they went into the second round on the back of a rain-hit loss and a no-result.) We’ve also seen Zimbabwe eliminated from the tournament before England had even played a match and a dead rubber for England in only their second match of the tournament. The only way things could have been worse for the ICC is if a minnow had, god forbid, made it into the second round.

The current format most resembles that of the 2007 fifty over World Cup which was famously terrible. I would look at the 2011 fifty over World Cup which dragged on forever, but at least was considered a success. In that tournament there were 14 teams instead of twelve, but they each went directly into two groups of seven instead of playing a pointless first ’round’ of only two matches. There is no reason why the T20 World Cup could not do the same. It’s actually the exact same number of matches for each of the seeded teams as in the current format (five), plus another three for each of the minnows. Whilst it admittedly isn’t fun to see the minnows play each other, it would only happen twice and the nice thing about T20 is that there is time for two matches in a day so there can be one ‘good’ match along with the one involving minnows. This gives the lesser nations a fair time in the tournament and a decent shot at an upset if they do well enough to earn it.

Unlike in the fifty over World Cup, however, I would not have the groups lead into quarter-finals, but instead go directly into semi-final matches. This means that instead of having the top eight teams get a pretty easy pass into the knockouts there will be real pressure in the group stages. It will add another layer of intensity to the ‘big’ matches and it will also mean that the matches of established v smaller nations will still have something relevant riding on them.

The other benefit of this format is that it doesn’t drag on. By my count there would be thirty matches in the group stages and with two being played a day that would last just over two weeks, Another two days for the semi-finals and final gives a total time for the tournament of either 17 days or 19 to give some rest days between knockouts. Either way it would be long enough for a good result but not nearly so long as to get people wondering when it will all end. It also leaves some leeway to expand the tournament. Adding another two teams would only make it 23-25 days long.

That format is not perfect, of course, (I doubt there is any way with the current situation of world cricket to make a format flawless) but it would be a huge improvement on the current one. It would be fair to the teams, watchable and of a decent timespan. The only other way to improve on it would be to hold it every four years like a real World Cup!

3 thoughts on “T20WC format

    1. You’re right, of course, and I actually doubt they’ll be too upset with this year’s tournament for exactly that reason. I think this format would still be quite profitable, I think most would turn on a semi-final even if their team was not playing, but I would not expect the ICC to risk it. After all, why put the integrity of a competition before money?


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