Broken Cricket Dreams Logo

Rethinking the ODI World Cup format

by Aug 5, 2020Cricket innovations, ODI League, ODI World Cup

Photo of all the 16 captains from the 2007 Cricket World Cup

Ireland Vs England, 3rd ODI. What a game yesterday. Twin centuries by the seniors Paul Stirling and Andy Balbirnie with ample support from Harry Tector and the evergreen Kevin O’Brien, Ireland chased 329 against the World Cup holders, albeit without the likes of Stokes, Butler, and Archer.

That certainly does not take anything away from Ireland and breathes life into the new ODI Super League. So it is ideal to reflect on the ODI World Cup Super League (WSL) and current World Cup format now.

Does the ODI Super League and the World Cup provide enough exposure to grow cricket worldwide?

In a scathing review of the 2019 Cricket World Cup (CWC) format, the late Martin Crowe wrote an article proposing an innovate format where the teams and audience both benefit while the game still grows. The 40-over World Cup would consist of a pre-tournament qualifier, a two group conference based competition involving 18 teams, followed by a best of three semi-final and a Grand Finale. Although we provide another solution, this is a good template to reference.

Also Read: 2023 ICC World Cup Qualifier (The Complete Guide), World Cup All-Time XI

ODI Super League – Good or Bad?

As a whole, I think the ODI Super League is a good idea. The top 13 teams in the world play a total of 8 three-match series (4 home/ 4 away) for a total of 24 games. The top 7 sides, along with the next World Cup hosts, qualify automatically for the World Cup, while the bottom five along with 5 associate play a qualifying tournament for the final two spots. This sounds a balanced format, unlike the World Test Championships, but the WSL still has major flaws.

Currently, the 12 test-playing nations are permanent ODI members, while the next 8 teams have temporary ODI status, with only one, the Netherlands qualifying for the ODI Super league.

In what world does this make any sense? If anything, the teams with temporary ODI status should have more exposure to the game so they can prove that they deserve the status. If only one out of the 8 teams is given a chance, it is likely that the one team will get better while the others lose their ODI status and eventually, their respective golden generations.

Finally, the qualifying tournaments in cricket do not provide any value. More often then not, the Associate Teams battle out the qualifiers, where several good teams miss out due to D/L method or a couple of tight games. Even Test-playing nations like Zimbabwe and Ireland missed out on the 2019 World Cup. Simply, the system is rigged against the Associate and lower-ranked nations.

What Should Happen

The current World Cup Super League should be expanded to all 20 teams, and the qualifying tournament should be eliminated altogether. More games should be allocated to the league so each team gets to play an equal number of opponents in each ranking tier (Tier 1: Rank 1-7, Tier 2: Rank 8-14, Tier 3: Rank 15-20). At the end of the four-year period, the top 15 teams qualify for the world cup automatically.

ODI World Cup Format

Group Stage: 3 Groups, 5 Teams Each – Top 3 from group qualify to the next round (30 games)

Super 9s: 3 groups, 3 Teams Each – Groups contain teams that have not played each other earlier (9 games)

Semis + 3rd Place Play-off: Top 3 + 4th ranked team from Super 9s (3 games)

Grand Finale: 1 game


  • Each team plays at least 4 games, so neither do we see a repeat of the 2007 World Cup where both India/Pakistan were eliminated prematurely, nor do we see several one-sided affairs.
  • 15 teams participate – the game grows
  • Each match is meaningful
  • Tournament is 43 matches long, five less than current format. Not quite Martin Crowe’s 18-team vision, but still a valid proposal.


The argument for the 2019 World Cup was that it would be competitive. At the end, only about 10 out the 48 games were close, it took Sri Lanka upsetting England 2 weeks in the tournament for the world cup to open up, and the 4-pre tournament favorites made the semi-finals. If we could just detach ourselves from that final, we could sum 2019 CWC in one word— Predictable.

Meanwhile, Ireland chased 300+ vs England (2011) and West-Indies (2015), Scotland upset England on the eve of the World Cup, and Afghanistan’s rise is a shining example. What else do the Associate nations need to do?

What is your ideal ODI world cup format? Please comment below and don’t forget to share and subscribe for more!

If you like this and more of cricket-related blogs, check out Top 100 Cricket Blogs at Feedspot.

Sources: ESPNCricinfo

Image courtesy of caribbeancricket / Ryan / CC BY creative commons license, some rights reserved.


  1. Anonymous

    In the 50 overs Cup 20 countries: 4 groups of 5
    In T20 World Cup 24 countries in 4 groups of 6

    • Nit-X

      I like the 4 groups of 5 idea for the ODI! The only issue with the T20 – 4 groups of 6 is the total number of games but 24 teams definitely sounds like an actual World Cup! 😊


Leave a Reply

Share This