The International Cricket Council has plans of increasing the number of teams participating in the T20 World Cup from 16 to 20 from the 2023-31 cycle, according to media reports in London.
According to Telegraph.co.uk., the world cricket body, is considering the expansion, thinking it is the best way for cricket to try and match the popularity of sports like football and basketball.
The newspaper reported that this consideration is “a part of broader discussions for the shape of international cricket calendar from 2023-2031”. The first T20 World Cup in this cycle is scheduled for 2024.
The ICC, which views the T20 format as the best way to increase the reach of the sport, had earlier put forward a proposal to organise a flagship event every year as a plan to enter the global media rights markets and a bigger T20 World Cup will also increase the viewership.
A bigger tournament will also increase the likelihood of the participation of the USA, a market where ICC has recently made several attempts to spread the sport. Other teams that could take part are Canada, Germany, Nepal and Nigeria.
The ICC is looking at two options for the format if the tournament expands to 20 teams.
One of the options is the current two-tier format used in the T20 World Cup with lower-ranked teams playing the qualifiers to reach the main draw which includes the top countries.
The second possibility could be four groups of five teams each with the top sides from each group progressing to the knockout stage.
The ICC is carrying out several discussions about the future of the sport, including shortening of traditional five-day Test matches to four-day games, which is receiving a lot of backlash and strong opposition from cricketers.
A bandwagon of cricketers, including Indian skipper Virat Kohli, ICC Cricket Committee member Mahela Jayawardene, legendary all-rounder Ian Botham, the iconic Sachin Tendulkar and Australian master batsman Ricky Ponting, who are strongly opposing the world cricket board’s idea to tweak the traditional five-day format.
Most recently, Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-Ul-Haq said the change in format will lead to greater injury risk for the pace bowlers.
“A fast bowler now routinely has to bowl 17 to 18 overs in an innings but if the duration is four days then his workload will increase to 20 to 25 overs. That puts him at greater injury risk and more importantly bowling more overs means it will take the zip out of his bowling,” Misbah said on a PCB podcast.
Despite growing criticism, former India captain Anil Kumble, who heads the cricket committee of the sports governing body, said the proposal will be discussed in the next round of the ICC meetings, to held in Dubai from March 27-31.
“Since I am part of the committee, I can’t tell what I am thinking about it (proposal) at the moment. We will discuss it in the meeting and let you know,” Kumble told PTI, adding that he is fine with past and current cricketers have expressed their views about four-day Tests.
(With inputs from agencies)