Do you like dead rubbers? Then you are going to love the cricket World Cup. Why? Because the entire 42-match group phase of this once-great tournament does not matter.
Fourteen teams will zigzag across two countries and, match-fixing commitments aside, desperately try to win games.
Fans will pay good money to pack the grounds and broadcasters will pay colossal money to beam the games into the subcontinent.
And it will all be for nothing.
Why? Because at the end of this exhausting glut of cricket, the 14 teams will be whittled down to eight quarter-finalists.
But here’s the thing: only eight countries know how to play cricket.
What madness is this? After 25,200 balls, played over an entire month, we arrive at sudden-death quarter-finals involving the only eight sides who didn’t need to advertise for players in their local newspapers.
That’s right, the quarter-finalists will be Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies and England.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the betting.
Australia are favourites at $3.75. The next six teams are tightly bunched, with Pakistan seventh favourite at $10 and then there is a small gap to the West Indies at $17. Here are the odds for the remaining six teams, presented in full in all their ludicrous splendour.
Now, I am all in favour of these six nations playing in the World Cup – the game must grow. I also respect the huge passion for cricket in Bangladesh and have been delighted by the development in the strength of Ireland and Afghanistan.
No doubt the ICC would point to upsets that have occurred in past World Cups, and no doubt they would argue there are advantages of finishing first rather than fourth in a group.
I acknowledge the truth in these arguments, but also label them pathetic.
Almost every match in the group stage of the FIFA World Cup mattered and mattered a lot. It is quite possible that not one of the 42 group matches of the ICC World Cup will matter at all.
Oh, and the solution? Simply remove the quarter-finals.
If only the top two in each group went through to semi-finals then every match would suddenly take on great significance. The tournament would remain exciting and relevant throughout the long group phase, and the developing nations would still gain experience and exposure.
But as it stands, Australia could pick me and ten other drunks to play (and lose) against England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
They could then send out a Sydney-grade cricket team to beat Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Scotland, and waltz serenely into the quarter-finals before handing over to Michael Clarke and the boys.
I find it all very hard to fathom. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d say the ICC seem to be a touch incompetent.