Essential guide to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO THE
CRICKET WORLD CUP
It was way back in 1971 that cricket was plunged into chaos and uproar: this was the year that the first One Day International was played between England and Australia at Melbourne.
And it was completely by fluke, too: the first three days of the third test match between the two teams were rained off, and so the officials decided upon a format of 40 eight-ball overs to at last get some kind of contest in.
As if that wasn’t hard enough for the purists and traditionalists to stomach, along came the infamous Kerry Packer with his infamous ‘World Series Cricket’ in the late 1970s. Those who signed up to play in the competition rebelled against the wishes of their own country’s cricket establishment, but the tournament – featuring coloured kits, white balls and day/night fixtures – completed under floodlights.
Cricket, so often the preserve of the old and stuffy establishment figures, was dragged kicking and screaming into the twentieth century at last.
The first World Cup had already taken place in 1975, but the new interest in limited overs cricket – aided by the razzmatazz of the World Series – meant that the next edition in 1979 saw far more interest from the public. And now, 40 years later, the nations participating in the Cricket World Cup have never looked back.
THE HISTORY OF THE CRICKET WORLD CUP
The Cricket World Cup dates back to 1975, when limited overs cricket was still in its infancy. England hosted the event, and eight teams were invited: the six test-playing nations of the day (England, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and the West Indies), plus the leading associate nations Sri Lanka and East Africa, as they were known back then.
The concept was slightly different, with 60-over matches as opposed to the 50-over encounters we know today, while the players wore their traditional whites and the normal red ball was used.
It was a bizarre tournament, with many of the competing nations still getting to grips with this exciting new format of the sport. In the England vs India match, for example, the hosts amassed a very healthy 334/4, and in their reply, India could only muster 132/3, with the great Sunil Gavaskar carrying his bat for an eyebrow-raising 36 not out.
Did the legend simply forget where he was, or was this some kind of protest against the one-day format?
The West Indies went on to win that inaugural edition of the Cricket World Cup, with the irrepressible Clive Lloyd hitting a century in the final against Australia.
MORE, MORE, MORE
It was still early days for limited overs cricket, but the World Cup of 1975 was considered to be a roaring success.
The tournament has been hosted pretty much every four years – or quadrennially, to be precise – since, although the 1991 edition was rolled over to ’92 and what would have been the year 2000 tournament brought forward to 1999.
Some of the changes since the mid-70s include:
The ICC Trophy (1979): This was a side event introduced in 1979 to decide which associate nations would compete in the World Cup. It’s a concept that is still used to this day, although the competition has gone through numerous name changes.
Going Global (1987): The 1987 edition was the first to be hosted outside of the UK, with India and Pakistan jointly taking on the duty. Australia beat England by seven runs in the final, which remains the closest conclusion to a World Cup in history.
The Fielding Circle (1983): To make the tournament even more exciting, the ICC had the idea of introducing a fielding circle that would restrict the number of players the bowling team could post on the boundary. In ’83, this 27m circle required four fielders to be inside at all times.
The New Way (1992): The legacy of Kerry Packer’s World Series idea revealed itself ahead of the 1992 World Cup, with the ICC introducing a raft of changes. These included coloured kits, white balls, floodlit matches and more batsman-friendly fielding restrictions. Many of the changes, designed to enhance the appeal of limited overs cricket to a wider audience, exist to this day.
The Dynamic Dozen (1996): The format of the tournament was reinvigorated again ahead of the 1996 edition, with the field size increased from nine teams to 12. This included the nine test-playing nations of the day - including South Africa, now that apartheid was over, and Zimbabwe - as well as three associate nations: Holland, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates, who all qualified via the ICC Trophy.
Super Six (1999): Never ones to rest on their laurels (or leave things be), the tournament was again re-jigged for the 1999 edition. The 12 teams were split into two groups of six, who played one another in a round-robin style. The top three in each group qualified for the Super Six, where they again took each other on. The remaining top four took their places in the semi-finals.
Super Eight (2007): With the competition expanded to 16 teams, further changes were made by the ICC. The Super Six phase was replaced by the Super Eight, made up of the top two teams from each of the four main groups.
Breaking Records (2015): If anybody doubted the popularity of the Cricket World Cup, those worries were put to bed by the staggering numbers that the 2015 edition delivered. A standard group match between India and Pakistan sold out in just 12 minutes, while the final - played by co-hosts Australia and New Zealand - drew an audience of 93,000 inside the stadium. The tournament was watched on TV by more than 1.5 billion worldwide.
The MODERN AGE
The 2019 Cricket World Cup has been criticised for a lack of diversity.
This will be the first edition in history without any of the associate nations taking part, with Afghanistan - the 'newest' country to take part - given test status in 2017.
The equivalent of the ICC Trophy, renamed as the Cricket World Cup Qualifier, was won by Afghanistan, who overcame the West Indies in the final. Both will take to the field in England and Wales later this year.
It means that Zimbabwe, who haven't missed a World Cup since 1983, and Ireland, who have featured ever-present for over a decade, will both miss out.
THE CRICKET WORLD CUP STRUCTURE & FORMAT
As we’ve learned, the Cricket World Cup has undergone a lot of changes through the years as far as the format and structure is concerned.
The 2019 set-up sees something of a return to the old days, with ten teams competing in a round-robin format in the first group stage to see who progresses to the knockout stage of the tournament.
HOW DO COUNTRIES QUALIFY?
Under the tournament restructure, the host nation – which, of course, is England in 2019 – qualifies automatically, and they are joined by the next seven teams in the ICC’s ODI rankings: India, Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
The remaining two places were reserved for the finalists of the Cricket World Cup Qualifier event, which was played in Zimbabwe back in 2018. This is why the West Indies and Afghanistan also find themselves in the mix.
HOW DOES THE GROUP STAGE WORK?
The ten teams will all play each other once at a variety of venues across England and Wales.
There are two points available for a win and one for a tie, and the four teams with the most points at the end of this campaign will proceed to the semi-finals.
Net run rate will also be monitored, as this will be used to separate teams in the group phase should they be level on points.
HOW ARE THE KNOCKOUT STAGE GAMES DECIDED?
The semi-finals and final are your classic ODI cricket, with 50-overs per side. The team with the highest total wins – it really is as simple as that.
Should the scores be tied, a super over – similar to the system used in the IPL – will be bowled. Each team selects one bowler to deliver it, and the side with the highest score after six balls is the victor.
HOW MANY GAMES WILL TEAMS HAVE TO PLAY ON ROUTE TO THE FINAL?
Each team will play all nine opponents in a round-robin format, with all fixtures played even if they are the proverbial dead rubbers.
Then there is the semi-final and the final, so whoever wants to get their hands on the World Cup trophy will need to play in 11 matches and win the majority of them.
CRICKET WORLD CUP HISTORY
Unlike many other major sporting events, the Cricket World Cup is fairly ‘young’ given that its inaugural hosting was in 1975.
There have been ten editions since, with five different winners and ten different host countries.
The 2019 tournament will be the twelfth in history, and the first time in 20 years that England and Wales have taken on hosting duties.
WHICH COUNTRY HAS BEEN THE MOST SUCCESSFUL IN WC HISTORY?
No country can match the Cricket World Cup record of Australia, who have won this title on five different occasions.
The first win came in India back in 1987, when the Aussies squeaked home by seven runs against England.
Then their golden generation won three World Cups in a row between 1999 and 2007 before taking the most recent edition on home soil in 2015.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST SHOCK RESULTS OF THE GROUP STAGE?
There have been some epic shocks and upsets in the past 40 years or so.
Who could forget England’s defeat to Bangladesh in the 2015 tournament, a result that sent the Asian outfit through to the knockout phase and set the English packing on the first plane home?
Four years earlier, England were on the receiving end of another shock defeat, this time to neighbours Ireland, who chased down a mammoth target of 327 to claim a momentous victory.
In 2007, Bangladesh – still something of a minnow of international cricket at this point – did the unthinkable and beat India, knocking them out of the competition in the group phase.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST SHOCK RESULTS OF THE KNOCKOUT STAGES?
Upsets tend to be harder to come by in the knockout phase of the Cricket World Cup, but there have been some notable examples all the same.
One of the biggest was Sri Lanka breaking Indian hearts in Calcutta back in the semi-finals of 1996. The hosts were expected to prevail on home soil, but a disappointing performance saw them demolished by the jubilant Sri Lankans.
In fact, the margin of defeat was so heavy that the Indian fans rioted in the stands, causing umpire Clive Lloyd to award the game to the Sri Lankans. In truth, the result wasn’t in any doubt.
There has been a trend for host nations being humbled, as New Zealand also tasted defeat in the last four in 1992 at Eden Park in Auckland. Their tormentors were Pakistan, who chased down their strong 262 target with Inzamam-ul-Haq, the talented roly-poly batsman, scoring 60 off just 37 balls.
WHICH COUNTRY HAS DELIVERED THE BIGGEST SURPRISE WIN?
In 2003, Kenya – the associate nation with little international success to their name – served up a whole catalogue of surprise wins.
They defeated Canada, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the group phase, and when New Zealand refused to play them in Nairobi on security grounds, the hosts found themselves in the unlikeliest of Super Six qualifications.
Were they outclassed against the elite? Not a bit of it, and Kenya beat Zimbabwe to reach the semi-finals. The cricketing world was staggered.
They ran out of steam there, however, beaten handsomely by India, but the Kenyans had produced not just one but a series of the biggest shocks that the World Cup has ever seen.
WHICH HAVE BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE WC FINALS?
In the first ever final in 1975, Australia were well placed chasing the West Indies’ 291 from 60 overs, but a flurry of quick wickets from Keith Boyce changed the complexion of the game; the Windies held on to win by 17 runs.
Whether coincidence or otherwise, the most memorable World Cup finals came many moons ago.
The last few have been one-sided affairs, with Australia hammering New Zealand in 2015, and India chasing down a mammoth 274 against Sri Lanka in 2011 with ten balls to spare.
One of the most iconic finals came in 1987, where old enemies Australia and England locked horns in Calcutta. The Aussies batted first and posted a total of 253, and in their reply, the English lost their first wicket with just one run on the scoreboard. But the likes of Graeme Gooch and Bill Athey dug in and took their side to the cusp of victory, and it was only the wickets of Allan Lamb and Phil DeFreitas that ultimately saw Australia home by seven runs.
WHICH CONTINENT HAS THE MOST WC WINS?
It’s something of a trick question, as technically the continent with the most Cricket World Cup wins is Oceania with five. But as we know, those were all won by Australia! The next best is Asia with four wins (India x2, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).
CRICKET WORLD CUP RECORDS
The Cricket World Cup has been notable through the years for high-quality individual performances, delivered by those players who tended to step up to the plate best on the big occasion.International sportsmen and women tell us there’s nothing quite like representing your country, so to do so in a World Cup will magnify that experience even further!
WHO HOLDS THE RECORD FOR MOST RUNS AT THE WORLD CUP?
The ‘little master’, Sachin Tendulkar, cemented his position as one of the greatest batsmen of all time with 2,278 runs for India across six World Cup appearances. That’s 500 more than the player with the next highest tally, Ricky Ponting.
WHO HOLDS THE RECORD FOR MOST WICKETS AT THE WORLD CUP?
Australian seamer, Glenn McGrath, just pips another legend of the game, Muttiah Muralitharan, in the most World Cup wickets stakes, having taken 71 to the Sri Lankan’s 68.
WHO HOLDS THE RECORD FOR MOST APPEARANCES AT THE WORLD CUP?
Only two players – Tendulkar and Javed Miandad – have been named in six different Cricket World Cup squads. When you think that the tournament is usually held quadrennially, that’s quite some feat! In terms of most individual appearances, Ricky Ponting just edges out Tendulkar by 46 games to 45.
WHO HOLDS THE RECORD FOR HIGHEST SCORE AT THE WORLD CUP?
Run rates have tended to be on the increase in the past 40 years, and so perhaps it’s no surprise that the highest individual score from a batsman came at the 2015 World Cup. That was bludgeoned by New Zealand’s Martin Guptill, who flayed the West Indies bowlers to all parts in his 237 not out.
WHO HOLDS THE RECORD FOR HIGHEST BATTING AVERAGE AT THE WORLD CUP?
If we narrow the list to those who have batted in 20 innings or more, South Africa’s AB de Villiers (63.52) just shades the Australian, Michael Clarke (63.42).
WHO HOLDS THE RECORD FOR MOST RUNS IN A SINGLE TOURNAMENT AT THE WORLD CUP?
It’s amazing really, given that he scored a third of the necessary runs in one innings, but Martin Guptill does not hold this record! Instead, it’s that man Tendulkar again, who notched 673 runs in the 2011 edition of the World Cup, which his India side went on to win.
WHO HOLDS THE RECORD FOR MOST HUNDREDS AT THE WORLD CUP?
To complete the set, Tendulkar has scored more World Cup centuries than any other player with six. Next on the list are Ponting and Kumar Sangakkara with five apiece.
WHO HOLDS THE RECORD FOR HIGHEST TEAM SCORE AT THE WORLD CUP?
Australia tucked into the buffet served up by the Afghanistan bowlers on their World Cup debut in 2015, amassing a monumental 417-6. Unsurprisingly, they went on to win the game!
WHO HOLDS THE RECORD FOR LOWEST TEAM SCORE AT THE WORLD CUP?
Another associate nation, Canada, found life tough at the 2003 World Cup, and against Sri Lanka they were dismissed for a schoolboy total of 36.
WHICH PLAYER HAS WON THE WORLD CUP MOST TIMES?
A trio of players all featured in Australia’s three successive victories in 1999, 2003 and 2007. They are Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath.
WHICH COUNTRY HAS MADE THE MOST WORLD CUP APPEARANCES?
Seven teams have been ever-present in the Cricket World Cup since its inauguration in 1975: England, Australia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the West Indies, who won the qualification tournament to maintain their record.
CRICKET WORLD CUP 2019: TOURNAMENT PREVIEW
The 2019 Cricket World Cup will take place in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14. The group games will be played at ten grounds across England and Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, before the knockout stage commences on July 9 with the first semi-final at Old Trafford (Manchester) and continues on July 11 with the second at Edgbaston (Birmingham).
The final will be played at the home of cricket, Lord’s, on July 14
The winning team will trouser prize money of $4.8 million for lifting the trophy. The runner-up takes $2.2 million, and the two losing semi-finalists pocket $1 million each. The eight teams eliminated during the round robin stage bag a consolation prize of $500k each.
NOTES FOR BETTORS
One of the key factors for bettors to consider ahead of the Cricket World Cup 2019 are the conditions.
Anyone that has spent a summer in England and Wales will know that in amongst the sunny, warm days, there’s rain and cloud. This softens the pitches – which slows the pace of the ball – and allows swing bowlers and seamers, aided by the greener wickets we see in other parts of the world, to thrive.
Other parts of the world enjoy their own unique conditions. In Asia, pitches tend to be dustier and support spin bowling, while in Australia and the Caribbean, the hot sun tends to ‘bake’ pitches, making them play faster and showcase higher bounce.
In short, it’s not a surprise when the host nation thrives at the World Cup.
Australia have won on home soil and in correlating conditions in England and South Africa, while India’s win in 2011 and Sri Lanka’s triumph of 1996 both came on the sub-continent.
Should England supporters be feeling positive ahead of the summer then?
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