For those of you who have no idea what the title of this post refers to, VOLO:TV is the in-train entertainment on some of First Great Western's services. I first came across it last August when I first moved to Cheltenham. The entertainment system often appears on the London-Cheltenham trains, so I've had quite a bit of time with it on the various journeys I've made in the last 7 months.
I promise that every post won't be about cricket, but once more I feel compelled to write about the World Cup, this time from England's perspective.
I've been a keen cricket fan since I can remember. In fact, I'd go as far to say that cricket (rather than music) was my first passion. My ultimate ambition was (and probably still is) to play for England. Sadly, I am utterly useless at batting, bowling and fielding, so that will have to remain as a dream.
Although still holding great interest in the game (and especially the performances of the England team), I am greatly disillusioned with the manner in which the England and Wales Cricket Board are running the game in this country. More of that in another post, however, as today I'm going to look at the organisation of the World Cup.
No doubt, the World Cup is a great tournament: the pinnacle of the sport, the "Cup that Counts". However, it could be so much better if the ICC changed their organisation. The 2007 World Cup was a disaster. From the terrible television coverage, to low turn-out from the crowds to the farcical ending in which the final was completed in darkness and neither team could see the ball. It also went on for far too long, with a bizarre format that was completely at odds with any other sporting World Cup. The current World Cup has come to life over the last week, inspired by that fantastic game between England and India. We have since seen another upset with Ireland beating a hapless England, and some of the heavyweight nations slugging it out. In fact, as I write this, the 2007 finalists are playing each other.
But the core problem remains the same. This tournament is going on too long. And the group stages just do not matter. Ireland should be heading into the next round with England getting on the plane home. But that is highly unlikely to happen. For the 2015 World Cup, the ICC's solution is to put just 10 teams into the tournament. Many feel that this is a bad decision and the associate nations should be allowed their days in the sun.
So here is my plan for the next World Cup:
- 4 groups of 4 teams
- Top 2 teams progress to quarter finals
- Straight knockout stages from quarter finals onwards
If you play two games a day during the group stages, then the competition can be over within a month.
It's how FIFA run their World Cup. "Ah, but that means that the big games won't necessarily take place" cry the ICC. Why does that matter? We don't see Brazil v Argentina or England v Germany at every football World Cup. It makes it more special when these games do take place in a major tournament. And it's not as if these big clashes won't take in the next four years anyway, is it? Ultimately, the ICC are too obsessed with money and milking the tournament for what it is worth. A streamlined tournament would give cricket a far better reputation. Is there any other sport that has a debate over the structure of its World Cup every time it takes place?
The other issue with the World Cup is that there are too many ICC global events. The Champions Trophy should be axed. The 50 over World Cup should be run every four years, as it is now. A Twenty20 World Cup should be run every four years, in the middle year, thus mirroring the structure that football uses of having a big tournament every two years (Euros and World Cup). When a team wins the trophy, they would be world champions in that form of the game for four years. This has far more longevity than the "run a tournament every year" mentality that the ICC currently appear to hold. I accept that the short-term income might fall, but surely it is better for the game in the long term that we have a sensible structure of tournaments.
One ICC decision that I do agree with is to hold a World Test Championship. The idea of the top four sides playing each other in semi-finals and then a final will determine the winner. I feel that this is a very good move. It gives a context to the test cricket that is played all over the world and gives us an overall number one side.
World champions for 20 over, 50 over and Test match cricket. Now that is a good idea. If only the tournaments themselves made a little more sense…