The T20 World Cup Format Needs A Radical Change (IANS Column)

Yajurvindra Singh

By: Yajurvindra Singh

Email: sunnybilkha@hotmail.com

June 21st  2024:

The T20 World Cup: The second League phase of the T20 World Cup 2024 has commenced. The term “Super 8” refers to the eight teams that have qualified to make it to the tournament’s semifinal stage. After that, it is

The second League phase of the T20 World Cup 2024 has commenced. The term “Super 8” refers to the eight teams that have qualified to make it to the tournament’s semifinal stage. After that, it is a shoot-out amongst the 4 of them to make it to the final.

The ICC should be credited with involving 20 national sides to participate in this tournament, with half of them being non-Test playing countries. The shorter format of the game has been a great way to spread cricket around the world. A few of the minnow sides have shown that on a given day they could be a handful for the senior established ones. The United States of America was one team that shocked the cricketing world, by not only qualifying for the Super 8 but also by showing their ability to match the best. Scotland too were very impressive and with further exposure and bilateral matches with the top sides, many of the associate teams could improve immensely.

The business end of the tournament is how the Super 8 is being talked about. How can one associate it with business, when the sides are once again divided into 2 groups. It diffuses the very essence of a full-fledged competition, as teams even at this stage do not play each other.

The ODIs World Cup format since 1975 has gone through several changes. Finally, in 2023, 10 sides played against each other and the top 4 made it into the semi-final stage. One gathers that the 2027 World Cup will have 14 teams competing. This is super news, as the winner will need to showcase consistency over a longer period and meet challenges from all the 13 sides participating.

An ICC tournament is very serious and prestigious in all the formats of the game. This involves world cricket and the paucity of time is not an excuse one would associate to do so.

The limited-overs World Cup tournaments should have a consistent competing format. The ODI one is a tried and tested one and the next T20 World Cup should be played in a similar fashion.

The experiment of hosting the T20 World Cup 2024 in the West Indies and the USA has not been an entirely satisfying one. The wickets and the weather in the US played havoc and were a cause for concern. The uncertain element that it led to made even the best of players and sides look worried and woebegone. Pakistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka failed to qualify, and each one of them could not recover from their early debacle. This would never have been the reason, if the T20 WC’24 was played similarly to the ODI World Cup 2023, at the league stage.

There was another twist in the T20 World Cup 2024 as well. The sides, once they qualified were to be grouped according to their ICC ranking and hence India and Australia have been grouped along with Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In normal circumstances, the winner of Group B, being Australia, would have been in the other half.

India, Australia and South Africa progressed by winning all the matches that they played. However, both India and South Africa having played matches on wickets that were not favourable to batters and now have a question mark over their head. Their top batters have struggled to get runs and those who have had a few good innings have looked scratchy and uncertain.

The West Indian wickets may bring a bit of sanity to the playing conditions. The batters should once again come to the fore. This will be interesting as the bowlers who may have looked to be match winners in the initial league stage, will not get the assistance that they have got used to.

India and Australia look to be the favourites. Being grouped in the Super 8 stage, their encounter will not be a do-or-die affair. Both of them lack mighty strikers and rely a fair amount on their bowlers to get them a win. However, they are rated as the top sides of T20 cricket by the ICC and this comes through a year of consistent performances. For India, a 17-year wait after their 2007 win is a long one. However, one feels this team has the credentials to lift the trophy and bring joy to the millions of their followers.

The West Indian side is a bunch of carefree hitters. They require just one of them to play a blinder to get them a good score. However, their bowlers are not consistent and their catching ability is not reliable, but with the crowd behind them, they could pull off a heist.

South Africa, have all the ingredients to be winners. Unfortunately, they have choked at every World Cup event that they have participated in till now. A win would require them to get past that mental anguish. They have managed to win a few close matches while qualifying. This should give them the confidence to get over it.

England having scraped through to the Super 8 are the defending champions. One feels that without Ben Stokes, they do not have the firepower in the middle-order to be dangerous to notch up a formidable total. A win for them would require them to play well above what they have been doing recently.

Afghanistan, Bangladesh and the USA have done well to qualify. However, they are rank outsiders who may cause a bit of a stir in a match or two.

For them to win, would be a fairytale story.

The T20 format has made its mark. The ICC needs to restructure the entire format in the next edition of the cup. A 10-team battle with each side playing one and the other is the only way to unearth the top 4 sides and thereafter, the winner.

More matches and an even contest would be beneficial for the two “Cs”, Commerce and Cricket!

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer. The views expressed are personal.)

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