Because the cricket World Cup unhurriedly meanders in direction of the knockout part, it’s exhausting to not really feel that the finalists have been a foregone conclusion for the reason that center of June.
New Zealand and India are each constant and have largely carried out properly all through. Australia has been pushed exhausting by the West Indies and Bangladesh, however have each discovered a method of successful the important thing moments.
England although trying far much less assured, sit comfortably in fourth place, albeit with matches in opposition to the highest three groups remaining. The opposite groups have all had moments of brilliance, however have lacked the consistency all through the match and have been sharing victories amongst themselves.
Regardless of the statements about Australia nonetheless being shell-shocked after sandpaper gate, the query marks over the sustainability of England’s hyper-aggressive batting strategy and the quadrennial uncertainties relating to which Pakistan or West Indies staff will present up on a given day, the highest 4 groups, presumably aside from a workmanlike New Zealand within the place of a woeful South African outfit, are largely as anticipated.
The very fact is that this cricket World Cup has been purposely configured to scale back the probability of undesirable surprises. The qualification course of has been hermetically sealed to make sure that undesirable events don’t disturb the finely balanced equilibrium that the ICC needs.
The pathway for lesser cricketing nations to qualify has been drastically reduce, as a result of heaven forbid they’ve the temerity to trigger an early upset and get rid of a nation whose sponsors have paid high greenback to promote the newest telephone or a ride-sharing app throughout stadiums and to thousands and thousands of followers throughout business breaks.
By making certain that every one groups play one another, the format is extra akin to a soccer season than the World Cups of most different sports activities.
Consistency is paramount and rewarded. The flexibility to drag off just a few shock upsets is now not sufficient to make sure qualification to the knockout levels of the match.
As thrilling because it was, if Afghanistan had pulled off a exceptional victory in opposition to India, the desk would have remained largely unchanged.
India would nonetheless be within the high 4 and Afghanistan nonetheless languishing in final place. The identical could be stated for New Zealand and the West Indies, if Carlos Brathwaite had performed only a few extra bicep curls on the fitness center.
The top result’s that, with a 3rd of the pool matches nonetheless remaining, three of the semi-finalists are all however decided.
The fourth finalist place will, regardless of all of the hubbub following their loss to Sri Lanka, virtually actually be England. Betting companies place the chance of the present 4 groups qualifying for the finals at over 90 per cent.
Certainly, there may be the very actual chance that the ultimate dozen matches of the pool stage can be superfluous with the matches purely performing as a chance to provide all of the squad members some match time.
That is all to not say that this World Cup has not been with out its fair proportion of surprising and sensible moments. Bangladesh has been aggressive all through and completely deserved to beat each South Africa and the West Indies.
A dad-bodied Lasith Malinga turning again the clock to bowl Sri Lanka to a impossible victory in opposition to England can be remembered by all who watched it, as will Afghanistan taking India to the brink solely to have their hopes quashed by a Mohammad Shami hat-trick.
Nevertheless, by making a World Cup the place pool video games make up greater than nine-tenths of all matches and minnows are ostracised among the surprising magic that makes World Cups (of all sports activities) so particular is misplaced.
Below this format Eire would by no means have had the chance to chase down England’s 327 in Mohali, Kenya would by no means have miraculously defeated the West Indies on a rank turner in Pune and Dwayne Leverock would by no means have moved like a gazelle to snare Robin Uthappa one-handed to the utter amazement of all.
Extra importantly, cricketing nations like Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Eire would have by no means had the chance to show themselves and develop on the world stage.
When the trophy is raised at Lord’s on 14 July no-one will doubt that the winner deserves to be standing there. The standard all through the match in comparison with earlier editions will even be increased and the variety of one-sided matches lowered.
After all, the identical might be stated a couple of World Cup from any sport if it is just performed by the choose (finest) few. The worth paid for this, nonetheless, is a World Cup that has been sadly missing in character and is excessive in predictability.
The ICC would do properly to rethink the format when the World Cup comes round once more in 2023.