World Cup has plenty to learn from Champions Trophy

Alec Swann Columnist

By Alec Swann, Alec Swann is a Roar Expert

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    Chris Gayle could be back in West Indies colours from 2016. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton

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    If you watched any of the cricket World Cup a couple of years ago you may recall that it wasn’t the most enthralling edition of the competition.

    There were a handful of contests that stood out such as Ireland and Bangladesh beating England, the latter’s tie with India, Sachin Tendulkar’s masterly century against South Africa, Ricky Ponting’s ton in vain against India and the hosts’ perfectly paced run chase against Sri Lanka, for whom Mahale Jayawardene scored an imperious hundred, in the final.

    But, in the main, it was a tournament that was drawn out, tedious in many parts, and had the impression of not knowing what it wanted to be.

    A month to discover who the quarter-finalists were going to be was ludicrous, especially when there was only really only one place that was up for grabs.

    Considering it is supposed to be the 50-over game’s showpiece event, those charged with the organising habitually make a right meal of it when it should be a fairly straightforward task.

    Attempting to incorporate the game’s elite nations and a few of those in the second tier would appear to be akin to a quadratic equation (I never did understand those) that is no nearer to being solved.

    So what everyone is left with is a convoluted mess that doesn’t seem to satisfy anybody, in other words, having four courses when three would be more than adequate.

    Compare this to the Champions Trophy which gets under way on June 6 when India face South Africa in Cardiff.

    Eighteen days of competition, eight countries, two groups of four, three venues, semi-finals and a final.

    Short, sharp, of a high quality and exactly what a tournament should be in these days of crammed schedules.

    In fact, precisely what a tournament should be whether the schedule is crammed or not.

    That it will be the last of its kind is something of a travesty because it could serve as a tool to reinvigorate the 50-over game that, despite its efforts to the contrary, continues to be criticised from pillar to post for the simple reason that, as far as I can see, it isn’t of 20 overs in length.

    It is a format which, if not viewed through a cynical eye, can produce fascinating performances and drama but has been forgotten by those in favour of a quick fix and unwilling to persist with that which has provided sterling service for over four decades.

    One-day international cricket bridges the gap between 20-over and Tests and should be stuck with for that reason and the forthcoming event can show the world that there is still plenty of life left.

    Even after the axe has fallen, there is the World Cup in Australasia in 2015 and it is to be hoped that the organisers take a leaf from what is about to unfold.

    There is a strong case to be made for a slightly longer tournament as one lasting a fortnight would seem too brief but there is no need to over extend for the sake of it.

    The 1992 edition was the ideal length and set-up with the teams all playing each other and the top four qualifying. No gimmicks, just a simple round-robin competition with two semi-finals and a final.

    In a family, the younger sibling often gets overpowered by the elder but quite often it speaks and should be listened to.

    Alec Swann
    Alec Swann

    Alec Swann is a former Northants and Lancashire opener turned cricket writer. Outside of the joys of a Test match, Newcastle United and golf generally occupy his other sporting interests with a soft spot for the Newcastle Knights.

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • May 7th 2013 @ 1:57am
      Johnno said | May 7th 2013 @ 1:57am | ! Report

      A very good article. And it has exposed many thoughts, about the future of the 50 over ODI. I almost now no longer even care about the ODI world cup, how times have changed. I used to enjoy the champion’s trophy too. But the fact is I couldn’t give a stuff who win’s the 50 over format of the game, at the moment. shows how much ODI cricket is struggling, when it’s losing cricket traffic’ss like me to the format. Fans who never missed a game of world series cricket in the late 80’s and all the 90’s. I used to run home from school every day in the late 80’s and 90’s, to watch the afternoon session , and at school there would be a buzz around at lunchtime, everyone talking about a big Aussies VS Windies day nighter match at the MCG in front of 75,000 fans, screaming c’mon aussie c’mon, strayla, and lines like that, or a big Mexican wave at the SCG for an Australia VS England ODI match and the hill would be out of control packed to capacity with yobbo’s.

      I was heartbroken at ODI 2011 when a ricky pointing century didn’t get them over the line, I was in tears for NZ when they lost to Pakistan at World Cup 1992 the best world cup ever, I loved world cup 1996 when sri lanka won the aussies had all those lucky escapes vs NZ and the west indies, I watched just about every match of the 1999 world cup,.2003 and 2007 was the beginning of the end of my love for ODI cricket I still cared but only watched the grand final and bit’s and pieces of the semi-final.
      Loved world series cricket in the 80’s and 90’s.

      It’s embarrassing I have more memory flashbacks of ODI cricket in the 80’s and 90’s, than the recent ODI matches last summer vs sri lanka. In fact I couldn’t even tell you if it was a 3 match/5 match/7 match series. Wow how times have changed , and ODI has been forgotten about by the masses and mainstream public consciousness in such large numbers, unlike the 80’s and 90’s where ODI cricket was part of the national summer sports landscape , like flies and hot summer’s night’s.

      Agreed a tighter formula must be found , for the ODI world cup, what that solution is I don’t know. Ideally it would be good if all group matches could be done in 12 days. Then start Q/F’s on 14th and 15 days, and have it wrapped up with in 3 weeks, or 25 days max.

      The thing is the minnow’s kicked up a fuss, and the world cup is the only opportunity to expose themselves to a wider audience ,once every 4 years. Does this all point to 1 road, T20 taking over maybe, or maybe the old should ODI cricket go to 40 over debate come up again, i am torn on that one don’t know.

      But the champion’s trophy has it’s place a good money spinner, I say keep it, I’m surprised they are scrapping it, as it;s good revenue and enjoyable cricket and rates well in the sub-continent.

    • May 7th 2013 @ 8:45am
      Sleemo said | May 7th 2013 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      The best World Cup format I can remember was the 1999 WC. Two groups of six i.e. ten test-playing nations plus two qualifiers. The best three from each make the Super Six with results against the other teams in their group carried forward, so each team plays three SS games. Then semi-finals, and a final.

      Perfect format – there was a battle in each group with four top Test nations together for the three available finals spots, plus the qualifiers thrown in to cause an upset. I remember in that tournament Zimbabwe made it out of the group stage. The Cup was over after five weeks – certainly not too long a tournament, especially when compared with the 2007 version which was ridiculous.

      I’m all for opening the game up to the developing nations but seeing how poorly Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are going these days, any more than two qualifiers would dilute the standard of the competition to an unacceptable level.

      Why the ICC dumped the 1999 formula I do not know.

      • May 7th 2013 @ 10:09am
        Renegade said | May 7th 2013 @ 10:09am | ! Report


        I thought that format was the best too….the best team would end up winning the tournament because you had to play the best to progress through.

        The 2011 format was ridiculous…SAF were unbeaten through the group stage and then got knocked out by NZ in the QF even though NZ had won as many games as they lost.

        The 2 pools, super 6, Semis then FInal was definitely the best at determining a world champion.

      • May 7th 2013 @ 10:28am
        Brian said | May 7th 2013 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        Agreed it was the best format. It was dumped after 2003 because due to politics Kenya & Zimbabwe (much weaker than 1999) made the Super 6 and it became dry.

        The best format would be to create a proper annual schedule so that all teams play each other home and away over 9 months (No other ODI) and then a top four playoff. I too watched so much of 1992-2003 and now hardly care.

        I get the feeling ODI are alive because the 2015 and 2019 World Cups were decided upon before T20 came along. I suspect once 2019 is out of the way there will be a review of the format.

    • Roar Guru

      May 7th 2013 @ 8:51am
      The Bush said | May 7th 2013 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      Personally I’d go with four groups of four, then straight quarters, semis and final. Gives the smaller nations a go and cute straight to the chase.

      • May 7th 2013 @ 10:39am
        Matt F said | May 7th 2013 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        I like that format. It gives the minnows an opportunity but also ensures that the tournament doesn’t drag on for the usual 18 months (slight exaggeration)

    • May 7th 2013 @ 10:47am
      Timmuh said | May 7th 2013 @ 10:47am | ! Report

      Recent World Cups have gone far too long. Television does not want games overlapping, which makes it dfficult. Nor do they want a reduction in the number of games involving major nations.
      Its not an easy puzzle to solve, but using the Champions Trophy format only opens up other questions of how to ensure the smaller (in cricketing terms) nations get a chance to prove themselves against the top sides in a high profile manner.

    • Roar Guru

      May 7th 2013 @ 1:45pm
      Ben Carter said | May 7th 2013 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

      Hi Alec – as a cricket nut, I used to love the Champs Trophy, when it was an Associate-hosted ICC fundraising knockout tournament. It then somehow morphed into a half-World Cup, and I’d prefer it to even be the best five (?) nations (a-la the hockey version) and leave it at that.
      Anyway, aside from that, I often wondered whether it wouldn’t have been a good idea for the ICC to stick with 12 teams a little longer, to build up a couple of stronger Associate performers instead of leaping from 12 to 14 to 16… Ideally, the World Cup should remain a chance for the second-tier nations to be present. I like 14 teams, but two groups of 7 seems to take forever. 16 teams in 4×4 a-la football, plus quarters, semis, final, seems obvious, but perhaps a tad short? I’d like to see 15 teams – 3×5 – 30 first-round games then a top six then semis and a final. So long as there is a minimum of three Associate entries at this point, I’d be happy.

    • May 7th 2013 @ 7:36pm
      Stan the sportsfan said | May 7th 2013 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

      I really like the (Australian) World Series format – teams play each other multiple times during a tournament. I’d like to see a similar format for world cups. IMO only the 8 top ranked teams should play in the world cup tournament (in a play off series). I say out with the minnows (or second tier sides) – they should play in their own final tournament and the winner could then be given a chance to qualify for the world cup finals.

      “Regular” ODI’s could serve as world cup qualifiers (similar to FIFA’s system). That would make the ranking system more important.

      In the world cup finals the top eight could then play in a play off series over three rounds (i.e quarter’s, semi’s and a final round) over a one month period . In the quarter finals you would have for example the no. 1 ranked team playing the no. 8 ranked team, and no. 2 playing no. 7 etc. According to today’s ranking system you’d have India vs. New Zealand in the first quarter-final series. The winner would be decided in a best of three game series and would progress to the semi’s where they would face their next opponents in a best of three game
      semi-final series. The semi-final winners could then face each other in a best of three game final series. Potentially the no. 1 ranked team (or another team) could win the cup by winning six games consecutively

      In my world cup format a winner would thus in effect be decided over a four year period (including the qualifiers and final tournament). This would ensure that the best (and not the luckiest) team would be crowned the winner every four years.

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