How to make cricket World Cup fairer


The Associate teams have done better in 2015 than ever before, and as ICC officials point out, this is in no small measure due to the efforts of the ICC. The World Cup is the marquee tournament in cricket. Fifty-over cricket lends itself to many moods and different mini-contests. There are just enough good teams in the world for an exciting tournament to be possible. In this post, I will propose a format to make a 14-team tournament work over six weeks.

The 2015 tournament lasted six weeks. India played eight games over 40 days. Their workload was far lighter than it is in the average bilateral series. Consider that they played four Tests over a month in an unusually strenuous tour of Australia. Had the Phillip Hughes tragedy not occurred, they would still have played four Tests in 36 days. Of their eight games in the World Cup, four were against Zimbabwe, UAE, Bangladesh and Ireland. At one point in the tournament, Australia did not play for nearly two weeks, thanks to a washout against Bangladesh.

In a good format the fate of teams does not hinge on a single bad day. An ideal World Cup format would accomplish two things. First, it would reward sustained quality. (A format that requires the same amount of work from a team that wins six games in six and another that wins three in six in the league stage, to win the World Cup is an unfair format.) Second, it would give every team a fair opportunity to give an account of itself. Keeping this in mind, a 14-team World Cup can be divided into two broad stages:

 A preliminary league stage involving two groups of seven teams, guaranteeing each side six games.

 A Super Group involving six teams (top three from each preliminary group) culminating in a winner.

The semi-finals, quarter-finals and a final can be replaced with Eliminators and Qualifiers, which will culminate in the final. 

The IPL uses this idea with four teams. 

It can be easily extended to six teams to produce nine games, as shown below.

The conventional points system can be eliminated and replaced with one that takes into account margins of victory. This is a simple system that will give the maximum points to the team that wins by the largest margin while expending the fewest resources (overs, wickets).

Consider a match in which A plays B. Suppose A scores 250 for 5 in 50 overs, and team B scores 251 for 4 in 45 overs, and wins. In this match, nine wickets fell for 501 runs. 

The cost of one wicket is 55.7 runs. It is possible to calculate the performance of each team per delivery from this information.

Team A scored 250 runs in 300 balls, and took four wickets in 270

Four wickets = 222.67 runs. (since one wicket = 55.7 runs)

So we can say that Team A scored (250/300) with bat and (222.67/270) with the ball: the cumulative Performance Per Ball (PPB) of team A is 0.83 with the bat and 0.824 with the ball

Total PPB for Team A = 1.658

Similarly, total PPB for Team B = 1.857

Let’s award the winning team a win bonus. The win bonus is the average PPB for the match, which in this case is 1.758 (average of Team A and Team B)

Team B = 3.615 (since B won)

Team A = 1.658

In case of a tie, both sides are awarded the win bonus. In case of an abandoned match, the game is not considered. 

This is a better way of accounting for an abandoned game compared to the ICC’s preferred method, which is to award each side one point.

For each match, a team can have “PPB for” and “PPB against”. For the match in question, Team B would have a net PPB of +1.957. 

The net PPB for the losing team would be -1.957. 

The performance of a team is the difference between its performance per ball and that of its opponent.

This method ensures that a team that loses the fewest wickets, uses up fewest deliveries and concedes the fewest runs will get the highest net PPB. 

It has the added virtue that it can be updated every ball and displayed during a match (after at least one wicket has fallen), so that a team can predict what the consequences of losing a wicket while chasing quick runs might be for its net PPB. It means that literally every delivery bowled in the World Cup matters.

If we use this method for the group stages of the 2015 World Cup, the record looks as follows. New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and South Africa would have qualified. – cricinfo

April 2015
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