Tag Archives: iccwc2011

Can we complete a 14-team World Cup in 4 weeks?

The current Cricket World Cup 2011 goes on for 42 days. The previous edition of the World Cup (in 2007) went on for 42 days. It was so long that I asked my friends in 2008 if the cricket World Cup 2007 had concluded! The CEO of the ICC at that time was Malcolm Speed. I can say that certainty that I would not associate his name (Speed) with the time it took for the World Cup he organised under his watch to conclude! The World Cup takes way too much time in its current format.

In direct contrast, the Soccer/Football World Cup lasted exactly 25 match-days! And the Soccer World Cup features 32 teams, as against 14 teams in the Cricket World Cup! Notwithstanding the fact that ODIs take longer to complete than soccer games, in my view, the cricket World Cup just goes on and on needlessly!

The ICC’s reaction to criticism of the duration has been to suggest a trimming of the competition down to 10 teams. I am not sure that that is the way to go. We then get a situation where we deprive growth in the game.

We also get deprived of romantic situations like last night when the Irish underdog beat the mighty English! Agreed, such thrashings do not come often and that more often than not, we see the “minnows” (Oh boy, I hate that word so much!) get thrashed by the big teams. However, there is a certain romance surrounding Burton Albion drawing with Manchester United in the FA Cup in 2005-06! The FA Cup provides opportunities for the underdog to have its day in the lights.

Similarly, the World Cup should also provide space for the smaller teams to try and flex their muscles against the bigger teams.

During the rest of the intervening period between World Cups, my proposal (one that was initiated by Dileep Premachandran, I believe) is that smaller team are featured in domestic competitions. For example, there is no reason why Afghanistan (a fast improving team) and UAE should not play in the Ranji Trophy. Similarly, Ireland, Scotland and Netherlands should be allowed to field teams in the England County Championships. The USA team should play in the Carrib Beer Cup in West Indies.

The question then is whether the World Cup duration can be shortened while not sacrificing participation. At 42 days, as I said in my opener, the Cricket World Cup is way too long.

It can be trimmed. With 14 teams split in two “divisions”, it is possible to complete the World Cup in precisely 28 days! I have named the teams a1-a7 and b1-b7. According to the schedule below, the entire competition can be concluded from day-1 (d1) to day-28 (d28) with four rest days (d20, d23, d24 and d26).

a1 a2 a3 a4 a5 a6 a7     b1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7
a1 d1 d7 d14 d17 d12 d4   b1   d1 d8 d14 d17 d12 d4
a2 d1 d5 d8 d15 d19 d13   b2 d1   d5 d8 d15 d19 d13
a3 d7 d5 d2 d11 d14 d18   b3 d8 d5   d2 d11 d15 d18
a4 d14 d8 d2 d6 d10 d16   b4 d14 d8 d2   d6 d10 d16
a5 d17 d15 d11 d6 d3 d9   b5 d17 d15 d11 d6   d3 d9
a6 d12 d19 d14 d10 d3 d7   b6 d12 d19 d15 d10 d3   d7
a7 d4 d13 d18 d16 d9 d7   b7 d4 d13 d18 d16 d9 d7  
QF1 d21   SF1 d25   L1VsL2 d27   FIN d28
QF2 d21   SF2 d25            
QF3 d22                  
QF4 d22                  

In other words, the entire competition can start on a Sunday and will be completed precisely 4 weeks later on a Saturday! I have assumed that each weekday will feature 2 games and weekends will feature 3 games. This is very possible! Each team will have (on average) 2 days between successive games in the league stage.

Mind you, the above tables represent merely one permutation of many plausible solutions. I worked it out merely to illustrate the point rather than providing a direct implementable solution.

Now why is it not possible for the ICC to adopt such a schema or template for the World Cup. If I can come with a schedule like this in half an hour of mucking around, surely the boffins that get paid loads of dosh to run cricket can do better than that!

-Mohan (@mohank on Twitter)

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India’s woes: Team composition…

Many pundits have been writing off India’s bowling as awful, citing her bowling against Bagladesh and England as case studies that prove their collective hypothesis.

However, Sanjay Subrahmanyan tweeted the fallacy of this position this morning. He tweets on his timeline (@sanjaysub): “Indian bowling not upto the mark for allowing Eng to score 338. Eng bowling upto the mark becos it was the Ind batting that scored 338!”

And that is really the point. If we accept the hypothesis that the India bowling is terrible, then surely, the England bowling ought to be equally bad!

That said, it is fair to accept a position that IF India lose this World Cup it will probably be more due to the collective failure of her bowling than her batting! The batting does look solid on paper. The problem for all other teams is that the batting looks more solid on the park than it actually is on paper! For the batting to be stronger on the park, India needs (a) Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni to be hitting the ball well. (b) Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli to fire. (c) Yusuf Pathan and Yuvraj Singh to start middling the ball. All three of the above are happening. I have rarely seen Sachin Tendulkar as much in the “zone” as he was when he batted against England. Virender Sehwag looks dangerous. MS Dhoni is on top of his game. Yuvraj Singh is starting to middle the ball well. All other batting chinks are being ironed out.

There is no point pillorying and bemoaning the fielding. India is not going to ship up her fielding mid-way through a World Cup. As Dhoni mentioned in a recent interview: It is what it is.

To me, even though I completely accept Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s position, as expressed in his [@sanjaysub] tweet, and although I lament the one-sided nature of the “India bowling is weak” theory, I do feel that there is something to be said for “team composition”.

I think it is suicidal for Team India to go in with Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla as the only “main bowlers” as we get into the sharp end of the tournament. Given that the batsmen are performing well, I think the team has to either sacrifice Yusuf Pathan or get him to open the bowling! If he does not do that, I see no reason why India should not play three spinners — R. Ashwin, Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh — with Yusuf Pathan missing out and with R. Ashwin opening the bowling!

With the “2 pace bowler, 2 spinner and 2 part-timer” formula that is currently under operation, Dhoni has no choice but to have a “bowling change by formula/template” form of decision making. He bowls Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan for the first 10 overs. He then has Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla bowl the next 10 overs. He then has the part-timers bowling in tandem for the next 10 overs. And from there, it is a look up to the heavens to see what happens! If decisions are made only by a template, we may as well have a template as captain!

Dhoni has no choice but to go for a template-solution given his resources. If we are to free his hand up a bit, I feel India has to bite the bullet and throw in another bowler into the mix. I feel that that bowler has to be R. Ashwin and he has to open the bowling.

— Mohan