ICC miss target with World Twenty20 format
A major cricket tournament is about to begin, which guarantees only one thing: a confusing and unfair format. The 50 over World Cup has been plagued by issues with its set-up down the years and it appears the problem has spread to the newest form of the game. >
The outline of the tournament seems reasonable: 12 seeded teams split into four groups that produce two Super Eight pools of four which in turn deliver the four semi finalists.
The participants are ranked according to their performance at the 2007 World Twenty20, which is fair enough as the fledgling format has no other past history on which to decide seedings. This is why Bangladesh are seeded above West Indies, having beaten the Windies in South Africa to finish above them.
This has produced a ‘group of death’ – Australia, Sri Lanka and West Indies are in Group C – which is never an ideal scenario in major tournaments. Holders India will play Ireland and Bangladesh.
This imbalanced composition of the groups will be repeated in the Caribbean in 2010, as one of Group C will finish outside the top eight. Bangladesh or Ireland will be seeded higher than one of these major nations in two years’ time.
However, the fact that Australia, Sri Lanka or West Indies could beat the eventual winners and still depart in the first round is not the main problem with the format. The seedings principle has been taken too far.
The composition of the Super Eight groups is decided by the teams’ initial seedings, not where they finish in their round one group – Pakistan are seeded higher than England in Group B and are guaranteed to progress as team ‘B1’, if they beat Netherlands, even if they lose to the hosts.
This means the Super Eight groups are all but settled already. India, Australia and South Africa (seeded fifth), the three best Twenty20 teams in the world, will be joined by England. Pakistan and New Zealand get full reward for reaching the last four in 2007 – they will face West Indies or Sri Lanka and Bangladesh or Ireland in the second stage.
Seedings in all sporting tournaments are designed to keep the big names apart, not to plot a route for them through the event. The ICC need to remember that and place the emphasis on teams’ current performances, not on what they did in previous tournaments.
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