The International Cricket Council (ICC) is to set to expand the scope of the men’s 50-Over World Cup from the next cycle. There has been a debate over whether to expand the size to 16 teams but, in all likelihood, the ICC directors will settle for a 14-team format, played thrice before – in 2003, 2011 and 2015.
The current format of 10 teams that has attracted widespread criticism, largely from the Associate members who have been deprived of taking part in the pinnacle championship, will be done away with. The inference is that the arrangement – aimed largely to ensure more India games so that the broadcaster can leverage on that financially — is so lopsided that even a couple of full members – Ireland and Zimbabwe – failed to compete in the championship in 2019.
For the last couple of months, the ICC members have been deliberating on the size of the World Cup periodically through virtual conferences, and a couple of members of the world body have confirmed to Cricbuzz that consensus is fast emerging on the 14-team format for the ODI World Cup in next eight-year cycle, from 2023 to 31. There was certainly a demand to have 16 teams too, like in 2007, but the idea does not have the approval of the majority.
The need to finalise the shape of the global events in the cycle is exigent given that the ICC will have to go to the market to conclude the media rights partners and sponsors. The general impression is that the ICC is already behind schedule in finalizing the next cycle, the global pandemic being the chief culprit. It now wants have the eight-year blue print ready by this year end. The media rights are expected to be sold by 2022.
Six or Eight dilemma
The next big question before the ICC is whether to have six or eight World Cups in the cycle. An eight-event cycle was approved in principle in 2019 with dubious participation from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at one meeting. An elected management which took over the BCCI later, has made some noises but the latest impression is that there is a sense of optimism among ICC decision-makers that they will be able convince the BCCI to drop its opposition to the one World Cup every year plan. Clarity still has to emerge on this but consensus is being arrived at. More could be heard on this front soon in the coming days.
The Dubai switch for T20 World Cup
Although one of its managers, meanwhile, has conceded that options are open to switch the T20 World Cup later in the year to UAE from India, the BCCI office-bearers insist that efforts will be made to retain the staging rights. The rapid rise in Covid-19 cases has certainly weakened the BCCI’s claim. Besides, the UAE is a favourite for this in the current situation. With the entire UAE population set to be vaccinated – in fact the UAE government is reportedly contemplating a vaccine tourism policy – everyone concerned may understandably prefer to be safe than sorry.