The International Cricket Council has announced major changes in tournament structures across various men’s and women’s competitions.
The Champions Trophy makes a return as both formats of the men’s World Cups have been expanded after the announcement of the schedule for the 2024-2031 cycle.
The ICC has stated some major changes which will see the men’s 50-over and 20-over World Cups consist of 14 and 20 teams respectively, while the Champions Trophy will return after its last appearance in 2017 post an announcement on June 1, 2021.
The ICC on Tuesday announced the schedule and format of the global events to be held between 2024 and 2031 in lieu of its goal and commitment towards the growth of the game. According to the new schedule, editions of the T20 World Cup and World Test Championship Final will be held biennially along with a 50-over competition being held every odd year (2025 Champions Trophy, 2027 World Cup, 2029 Champions Trophy, and 2031 World Cup).
The Men’s Game – The Way Forward?
The most interesting piece of news from the announcement was the increase of teams in the events, which has also led to an expansion of the competitions itself.
The 50-over World Cups will now feature 14 teams across 54 matches, with the tournament split into initial two groups of seven from which the top three teams will head into the Super 6s stages (another format which also makes a comeback, having last featured in the 2003 World Cup).
The cry for more teams in major ICC events has been around for a while, with the argument being that giving the smaller teams a chance on the biggest stages will help them move ahead whilst also giving the game reach to a wider audience. As it goes now, the 2023 World Cup, which scheduled to be played in India, will be the final one to feature 10 teams for at least another decade.
The T20 World Cup, which has been the ace up ICC’s sleeve, will be held every even year starting from 2024 until 2030 in order to take the game further on a global scale. The tournament now will comprise of 55 games and 20 teams. These 20 teams will be divided into four groups of five, with top two teams from each group advancing to the Super 8s stage, post which the semi-finals and final will be held. Unlike the expanded T20 and 50-over World Cups, the Champions Trophy, returning in 2025 after eight years, will see a shorter version, comprising of 8 teams.
The Women’s Game – A New Era
Earlier this year, on the occasion of International Women’s Day in March, the ICC had announced the expansion of major events in the women’s cricket schedule post completion of the current cycle, which ends in 2023.
As per the new schedule, there would be a major women’s tournament held every year from 2022-2031, with the tournaments comprising of more teams and more matches. While the ODI and T20 World Cups will see more teams compete in them, the ICC have also announced the introduction of a new event – the ICC Women’s T20 Champions Cup – which is to be introduced from 2027.
The new schedule kicks off with the T20 World Cup in 2024, an event that will now be held every two years. The tournament will see an increase in the number of teams and matches played from the 2026 edition, with 12 teams competing across 33 matches.
The 50-over World Cup will see an 8-team tournament in 2025, post which the 2029 edition will have an additional two teams and a total of 48 matches, compared to 31 in the 2025 edition.
Building on the global success of T20s, the ICC have also introduced a Women’s T20 Champions Cup, which will have its inaugural edition in 2027, with the competition consisting of 6 teams fighting it out over the course of 16 matches.
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Building a strong base
The increase of major tournaments for the women’s game gives the right signal moving ahead. The women’s game has seen a slow but steady rise over the last few years, with last year’s Women’s T20 World Cup final at the MCG attracting a record attendance (86,174) for a women’s tournament.
More matches and tournaments will lead to the smaller, up-and-coming nations getting a platform to build their game and also help the ICC in their goal of building, improving and gaining global recognition for the women’s game.