The International Cricket Council (ICC), the apex body of cricket in the world, is mulling the proposition of increasing the number of teams participating in the T20 World Cup to 20 from 16. The twenty-over version of the game has been extremely popular across the world. Its popularity has further been boosted by the limited over leagues that are being held in various parts of the cricketing world. The T20 World Cup is scheduled to be held later this year in India. This shall remain unchanged.
The proposal of holding a World Cup among twenty teams is to be implemented in the 2024 edition. This proposal, many claims, is beneficial to cricket as it will help popularise the game further. The ICC has already confirmed that it shall be increasing the number of teams in the women’s world cup. Let us get a brief idea of what it exactly means to increase the number of participating teams in the World Cup.
Increase in teams
The increase in the number of participating teams spells well for every sport. It allows for the expansion of the sport and creates a provision for increasing its popularity. According to the sports website Espn Cricinfo; there are also talks going on about increasing the number of participating teams in the 50 overs World Cup. The number of participating teams in the World Cup has drastically diminished in the past few editions. From 16 teams in 2007; it dropped to 14 in 2011 and 2015 and then finally to 10 in the 2019 edition.
The ICC defended the move claiming that the broadcasters were interested in having fewer teams play to avoid one-sided games. The broadcaster’s interests definitely do not align with those of the game. The increase in the number of teams also spells the potential participation of cricket to the Olympics and the return of the Intercontinental Cup.
Cricket in Olympics
The thought of the inclusion of the game in the Olympics is bound to excite any fan of the game. The Olympics will provide a world stage for the game; which it has struggled to get so far as a large section of the countries of the world do not play it. It will provide good publicity and open up other financial avenues for the game. The ICC Full Members have resisted the move citing the lack of viability of bilateral series in such cases.
However, the waning power of the Big Three in world cricket; namely India, England, and Australia will allow for some leverage in the matter. To streamline things further a sub-committee has been set up by the ICC to report to the Chief Executive Committee (CEC). Full Members have also signalled their interest in participating, including India. However, the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) has cautioned against the involvement of the Indian Olympics Association in the matter. This news hints at the possible inclusion of the game in the upcoming versions of the Olympics. There is strong support for including the game in the 2028 and the 2032 versions.
The 2028 version of the Olympics is scheduled to be held in Brisbane while the 2032 version will be held in Los Angeles. No decision has been taken yet on the number of teams that shall be included if cricket gets included in the Olympics.
The Intercontinental Cup has been the stage for Associate nations to play first-class cricket. Matches used to consist of four days and were played by nations wanting to qualify for the test status. Both Ireland and Afghanistan, which have qualified as test-playing nations now have become full members by playing in this tournament. Ireland was the most successful country in the tournament while Afghanistan was the champion in the last edition of the tournament (2015-17). Talks of reviving this tournament are also on, albeit with a different name. Nations which have not qualified for test status will be potentially given an opportunity to play the format in this tournament. The second division of test-playing nations might thus be created. This will further increase the reach of the game and will surely boost its popularity.
A game can only expand if it is played by more and more people across the world. The recent decision of the ICC can potentially boost the reach of the game, create publicity and open new financial avenues. With the involvement of more nations and players, one can definitely expect better cricket in the upcoming days