The Cricket World Cup is Fixed! ( See what I did there?)

The Cricket World Cup is too long.


If you don’t agree with that statement, I suspect you might also be one of the last remaining members of the Shane Watson Appreciation Society. Sure, at this point we can all agree Watson is talented but you can’t sustain a career on potential. The same can be said for the World Cup.


Remember when this tournament had momentum? Sadly, I suspect you might need a wee jogging of the ole’ grey matter. It was sometime around India playing Pakistan, closely followed by Australia and New Zealand producing the type of game that can only be described with a word almost exclusively used for T20 matches nowadays: Pulsating. The cricketing world was riding high on a Teahupo-style barrel and the World Cup was alive with possibility, then along came South African, with AB going nuts (as only he can) and lo and behold, we go the ‘mo’ baby- This thing has taken off.


Then the grind arrived and the wave dumped us into a reef of interminable daily games of little interest and even less consequence. England’s only saving grace for their abysmal failings was the complete lack of wanting to care we all began to start feeling after the six week mark. (It has been going three months now hasn’t it?)


Watching the second Semi Final between Australia and India I had one of the most unpleasant experiences of my cricket watching life. Halfway through the Indian run chase I found myself fighting the very powerful urge to use the remote: Something, anything, must be better than this? Surely? God, even some reality-fix my house/make my dinner/form a rudimentary flotation device from coconut fronds and bark, brain-sapping-morass would be better than watching this?


I suspect M.S Dhoni was of the same mind.


The only reason I resisted this very powerful urge to invest my time on something more ‘entertaining’ was my love of the game. This is a World Cup Semi Final for Chrissakes! They only come around every four years….. Jesus, thank God for that.


Now sure, sure, I know, the South Africa v New Zealand Semi was brilliant. But it was played at the start of the week and pretty much lost to all but we, the hardy few cricket nuffies. It was bad enough to play a major final on a Thursday night, but a Tuesday? After six months of this tournament? Surely the denouement could be on a weekend? A Friday at the very least?


But enough bleating about this World Cup. Let me instead join the perennial debate about how we fix this, because even the ICC must surely realize that this thing might be broke. So how do you solve a problem like a twenty-four month long World Cup? Well, by being realistic.


The only tournament in the sporting world worthy of the moniker ‘World Cup’ is the football (soccer) one. There, I said it. Feels better already frankly. Part of the reason (because there are too many factors to list) is that the FIFA World Cup is actually the Finals. To make the field for the tournament you have technically completed the hardest part. FIFA, as an organization, reconises more nations on the face of the earth than the United Nations. Therefore, to qualify for the World Cup means four years of sustained and consistent competitive fixtures. Those of us old enough to remember Australia being forced to play Argentina (with some bloke by the name Diego Maradona in the mix) for a chance to get to the World Cup can testify to the genuine privilege it is to see the Socceroos grace the biggest stage in world football.


I mention all that to let you down gently, but here comes the hurt: Are you ready? The Cricket World Cup isn’t a real ‘World’ Cup. You already know that statement is true, you just don’t want to admit it. Cricket suffers from the same problem Rugby Union does (at this point Rugby League’s World Cup is barely worth a mention) there just simply isn’t enough nations playing the sport professionally for there to be any more than half-a-dozen sides that can legitimately win the thing. Sorry to break it to you, but seriously think of it this way- New Zealand could be the holders of both the Rugby and Cricket World Cups simultaneously.


Now don’t get me twisted, I am a huge Kiwi-phile, I dig the New Zealand ethos. Unlike us Aussies, who are forever concerned about how the rest of the world perceives us, the Kiwis have always known that we are at the ends of the earth and no one cares about us. Their answer? Just be yourself. Let it all out: Be creative and original and unique. Eventually the rest of the world ‘discovers’ you and lets you make ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Seriously, the bloke who made ‘Meet the Feebles’ was given the keys to a Hollywood blockbuster franchise. Think about that: That’s freaking awesome! [PJ possibly screwed the pooch on the King Kong remake, but point taken. – Ed]


Anyway, to my point: New Zealand might hold two World Cups at the same time. Deservedly so might I add but isn’t it a slight concern to the legitimacy of a tournament billed as a World Cup? I mean its bad enough when Australia wins but New Zealand has a population of 4.5 million. We punch above our weight, New Zealand are bantamweights in a heavyweight clash that they somehow win by KO. Point being, they certainly deserve to win the tournament but is the World Cup worthy of them?


There were 14 teams at this never-ending party and as I’ve already mentioned, only half-a-dozen, at best, could have won it: Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand, England and Sri Lanka. (Yes, yes, I know, it now seems hilarious to think that England were considered contenders but they should always be amongst the favorites and no amount of mismanagement and twenty-year-out-of-date-selection-policies should discount their legitimacy.) Below those six teams there are only three genuine Test playing nations- The West Indies, Pakistan and Bangladesh.


Then there’s the basketcase that is Zimbabwe.

Then, there be the ends of the earth- That way be dragons.


We call them ‘Associate Nations’ because the ICC tells us to but they fit the description on ‘minnows’ so exactly that it is impossible to not want to call them thus.


These minnows are not lost causes but they are semi-professional at best and completely starved of competitive matches, unless against the other minnows. This is the level where the Cricket World Cup can be saved from itself though- And here’s how.


Associate Members of the ICC are the only nations to have to qualify for the World Cup. That needs to change. The next World Cup should be contested between ten teams. Yes, I know that is already looking like it will be the case but here’s the kicker: The tournament should be a simple case of everyone playing everyone else with the top two teams qualifying for the Final. One final. No semis, no quarters- A straight, play everyone once, come out of it with the best record and play off for the Cup. Two weeks. Done. Now here’s the controversial concept: The bottom two ranked nations are relegated.


Say Bangladesh and the West Indies (oh were did it all go wrong Calypso Kings?) finish bottom two at the tournament. That would mean they are relegated from the next World Cup and the top two nations in the Associate Nations qualifying tournament take their place. So, for example, Ireland and the UAE come into the Cup and the Windies and Bangladesh spend the next cycle trying to re-qualify.


Suddenly the Associates have real competition (and sadly, who’s to say the West Indies could win their way back convincingly?) Certainly in the case of Bangladesh it might actually be nice, for a change, to actually go into an international fixture with a genuine belief that this time, they might actually be a chance to win. Rather than hoping that the wheels fall off their more fancied opposition because Andrew Symonds turned up seventeen sheets to the wind. (Too soon?) the Banga-boys might fancy their changes on talent alone. It would also give nations like Kenya (remember when they were half-decent in the World Cup?) a genuine pathway to follow. If Bangladesh are a full Test playing nation and we are a match for them, maybe we can be competitive at the big table?


Frankly, all the attempts to try and expand the World Cup’s talent pool are doomed to fail as long as the World Cup is an automatic qualification for everyone. Imagine the frisson of schadenfreude all of us would feel if the English had as poor a tournament as this one with the specter of relegation hovering over them? How desperate a defeat would that Bangladesh loss look then? How terrifyingly intense would that last clash against Afghanistan have been?


Suddenly I have reconnected with the World Cup concept, this could be awesome! Sadly I don’t see the ICC being this radical; certainly the nations of the Caribbean would stop bickering amongst themselves toot-sweet to veto the relegation model (only, of course to go straight back to feuding with their players and self-destructing straight after the vote). Still the first step to realizing you have a problem ICC, is to be forced to actually sit and watch Afghanistan vs Scotland from beginning to end without the aid of a remote (or the mobile phones you quarantine before all fixtures) and then convince us, the cricketing fans, that it was a contest worthy of the World Cup. Potential makes Ireland fun to watch but four years from now the Irish might atrophy as poorly as Shane Watson unless they get competitive fixtures. Frankly so might the World Cup.


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  1. Like you Tom, I have a lot of love for our New Zealand brothers and sisters (kia ora all!), but it does de-value things a bit when they can hold the Rugby AND Cricket ‘world’ cups concurrently.

    But seriously, you’re 100% right: part of the allure of the FIFA World Cup is the three years it takes qualifying nations to get there.

  2. Well the fixing word is so much associated not only with cricket but also with other sports too. I have heard so much about the European and English leagues that all football matches are fixed. But we can’t say that they are in real or not because we are not there.

    Cricket should be enjoyed rather than destroying our mind and focus with such kind of things and controversies.

    Hopefully we have great matches with free of fixing.

  3. Jenny you killed it. Hats Off.

  4. Really disappointing to see such kind of stuff when every cricket fan is desperate to watch a real contest among the teams. Hopefully we don’t find such activities during upcoming cricket world cups.

  5. I agree with you Jenny.

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