Sports Bodies Trying to be Fair With Teams and Fansby Opinion Express June 27, 2019 0 comments
The fear of a rash of dead games in the cricket World Cup’s league stage has dissipated with some stunning feats
The problem, some might argue, with mega international sporting events is that quite often they take far too long to come to the ‘business end’ or the ‘sharp end’, where the favoured teams all rise to the top and compete with each other. You could avoid watching the first week of a grand slam tennis tournament, even stay away from the World Cup of football until the quarter-finals. Every championship tries to resolve this issue through various means while trying ostensibly to be fair. So in tennis you have the seeding system, where top players avoid each other until the second week. In football, too, groups are chosen to avoid pitting too many top teams against each other. But nothing is perfect. Sometimes a rising star can emerge and take out the top seeds in tennis and in football matches, you often end up with the fabled “group of death” where a favourite can be dumped out in the early rounds.
The International Cricket Council (ICC), therefore, moved back to an earlier format where all the teams in the World Cup play each other once in the league stage. This angered some people because it made cricket a rather insular club of the major test-playing nations, although Scotland did come within a hair’s breadth of the tournament. But because the top four teams in One-Day cricket — England, India, New Zealand and Australia in that order — were so far ahead of the rest, everyone expected that other than some marquee marketing games such as India-Pakistan during the league phase, the first few weeks of the ongoing World Cup would be a damp squib after the first 15-off games. But as England’s implosion, Pakistan’s resurgence, Sri Lanka rediscovering its mojo and Bangladesh finally playing to its potential have slightly upset the apple-cart for the hosts, they highlight that one big thing that every international tournament should be about, unpredictability. Nobody expected Germany to be bundled out in the football World Cup at Russia last year and England was the unquestioned favourite for the cricket version as hosts. But some unexpected losses have shaken things up. However, sports administrators will continue toying with new league formats. While the ICC version is fairer than most, it is rather exclusive and if cricket’s popularity is to grow globally, more teams will have to be a part of the tournament. But that will invariably lead to calls of league fixing and what not. The challenges of making a tournament fair will remain but let us enjoy this edition till then for all the surprises it is throwing up.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer Editorial Team