ODI Cricket – Uniquely Retrogressive

Many times, I keep postponing a post have because I want it to be as perfect as it can be, re-working the draft multiple times, in my head and in the WP editor. This makes about one post materialise for every ten writing ideas that I have… Exploring a new format where with some posts, I publish a largely un-re-worked first draft, in a new category called… Quickies. :P :)

Following Japan’s stunning victory over South Africa in the Rugby World Cup, Tim Wigmore published a brilliant article on ICC‘s extremely unpopular decision to reduce the number of teams in the Cricket World Cup to 10, from 16 and 14 in the last two editions. Wigmore writes,

To cricket fans the spectacle was simultaneously intoxicating and deeply grating. For as thrilling as Japan’s victory was, it was a reminder of what is being lost from the Cricket World Cup, when the next two events contract to ten teams […] Three months ago the ICC declared its ambition to establish cricket as the “world’s favourite sport” by 2023 – admirable words, certainly, but hard to reconcile with the current will of those running the sport […] For cricket, the fear is short-term greed will have a deleterious long-term impact. As football continues to expand, rugby and cricket compete for attention underneath. It should be an unfair battle.

Unfair? I think the battle is already lost. I quickly gathered all data I could on the size of world cups (in terms of the number of teams) in most sports similar in nature and team size to cricket. I visualized this data using Excel (click image to enlarge):

World cup sizes: 1930 to 2020 [Vertical axis: number of teams (3-33)]
World cup sizes: 1930 to 2020 [Vertical axis: number of teams (3-33)]

The ODI world cup appears to be the only one among its peers that is shrinking. Nearly every other comparable world cup shows an overall growing trend. As a cricket fan nearly all my life, I am saddened by this. To be fair to the ICC, they have expanded the Twenty20 world cup to 16 teams from the 12 in its first edition. If that is indeed the future of the shorter version of the game, then perhaps the ICC is somewhat right in allowing ODI peter out into insignificance in the coming decades.

ODIs are the neglected middle child of the cricket world. Between the first and final minutes of an ODI game, FIFA can host two semifinals, a third-place playoff, and the finals, with more time to spare. While tests matches retain their purist followers and Twenty20 attracts the young and the restless, ODIs will most likely die out with the last (my) generation of pre-T20 fans. Sigh.

Here’s all the data I gathered. If you need the spreadsheet, contact me on any of my social media accounts.

WorldCupDataFullMuch Ado About Nothing LogoP.S. I have never seen a game of Bandy. Whatever it is, it sure is doing well. More than 500% growth in 50 years. ODI cricket grew 25% in the same period.



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