Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Legendary India batsman Rahul Dravid and former South Africa captain Graeme Smith both believe that the World Cup format is too long and predictable.
Dravid feels that the 1999 and 2003 World Cup format was the best since it went straight from the group stages to the super sixes.
However, now that the 14 teams participating in the tournament have been divided into two groups of seven, each team will play the other six in their group once. The top four teams from both groups will then qualify for the quarter-finals.
“It’s almost easy barring the odd upset or someone really having a bad tournament; you can almost predict who the top eight will be sitting here in the studio today,” Dravid said. “There comes a time in a tournament like this – and I sensed it a little bit during the last World Cup when I wasn’t playing but just watching – that everyone starts to wait for the quarter-finals. Sure, in between you have some big games as well but you know eventually that these are going to be the best eight teams.”
Reiterating why the 2003 World Cup format was the best, Dravid said: “You had to play well throughout the tournament. It gave you a bit of a chance to recover, if you started off slowly as we did in 2003. When three teams qualified for the super six stage, every game mattered. Points got carried over as well, so you knew you couldn’t relax in any of the games because if you lose a game, you don’t get to carry over those points.
“They need to just tighten it up, ensure that it’s a shorter tournament and have a format where it’s just not easy to predict who the top eight teams are going to be. There should be some tension in the top eight sides that if they mess up they won’t qualify for the super sixes.”
Smith agreed with Dravid’s comments and added that he doesn’t like the fact that there will be “10-12 day breaks between games”.
“You start the tournament with this great hype and then it hits a lull,” he said. “In both tournaments we had 10-12 day breaks between games at some stages which is a long time to just sit around in parts of another country in a World Cup. The experiences I have had with the football and rugby World Cups is that every weekend there is a big challenge and you are looking forward to the next game. I think that’s crucial for us to create to keep cricket on the map around the world: keeping it competitive.”
Smith also noted that throwing in four Associate nations does nothing but undermine the entire tournament.
“People tune in to watch this event from around the world,” he said. “If you look at the marketing events teams are having in their own countries, there is great interest in this event. I feel that tournaments like the World T20 and Champions Trophy will be an opportune time to give these nations the chance to play but I think the ICC needs to incentivise these nations more so they grow on a consistent basis, not just give them a World Cup every four years.
“Help these nations grow, then the pool of cricket is growing and getting stronger and stronger. I think throwing them into an event like this every four years is a bit hit-and-miss and takes away from what is an iconic event for cricket.”