It flies under the radar a bit, but the Women’s ICC Championship in ODIs has been going on for the past year or so, and from what I’ve seen and read it is an excellent tournament with an innovative format which the men’s game would do well to emulate.
Between 2014 and 2016 the top 8 sides in women’s cricket (the Full Member sides minus Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) will play 3 ODIs against each other. Pakistan have just played Sri Lanka in the UAE and England are due to go to New Zealand next month. At the end of this period the top four sides will qualify for the 2017 World Cup, and the bottom four will go into a qualifying tournament with the leading Associates who have qualified from the different regions.
Now this is a format to be admired – every game has context, which can only be better than the pointless bilateral series that take place in the men’s game. With context comes an edge and something to play for, which for the men only really happens in the World Cup. Better still is the chance for Associate teams to play against superior opposition in a tournament which rewards the best teams with the prize of playing in the World Cup. It allows the chance for lower-ranked sides to shock Full Member teams, and every team that reaches the World Cup will have qualified on merit. It’s a simple format but the correct one – when the men’s World Cup starts next month only 4 of the 14 teams will have actually qualified, and from 2019 only two will get the chance.
If the ICC wanted to inject some context and life into men’s ODI cricket they should look no further than their counterparts in the women’s game.
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