A look at how the Cricket World Cup format has changed over the years
Change is perhaps the most certain thing in the world. Practices need to evolve to keep pace with the times. The first-time anyone came up with anything, it wasn't necessarily perfect. It is only after executing a concept, and looking back on it with 20/20 vision of hindsight that one can see what changes will serve the concept best. The evolution of the format of the Cricket World Cup lends credence to this.
The Cricket World Cup has gone through a number of subtle changes in its format over the years. Some changes have been as a result of the last minute inclusion/absence of a team while other changes have been made to package the tournament more attractively to the masses.
The first 4 editions of the World Cup all had 8 teams, but the third World Cup had 27 matches while the first World Cup had 15 matches only. The World Cup has seen its number of matches go up from 15 matches to 54 and now 49 games are set to be played in the 2015 edition.
The number of teams has gone from 8 to 16 and now it stands at 14. It was cut down to 14 as with 16 teams in the competition, there were too many matches being played and the public interest waned a bit in the 2007 edition. The format has not been cast in stone, it's been ever evolving.
The World Cup finals comprises of the ten full members of the ICC and teams made up of associate and affiliate members.
Teams besides the full members who have One Day International status, have to qualify to make it to the finals. Thus, so far, 19 different teams have participated in the World Cup finals.
There have been 10 editions of the Cricket World Cup thus far. The first three were played in England and since then World Cups have been hosted by multiple host nations at the same time, except in 2007 when West Indies alone hosted it.
Here's a look at the different formats of the Cricket World Cup and how it has evolved.
1975 and 1979 Cricket World Cups
8 teams participated in these World Cups. The teams were divided into 2 groups of 4 teams which played each other once in the group stages in 60-over matches.
The top two teams in each group moved to the semi-finals. A total of 15 matches were played in the 1975 World Cup.
1983 Cricket World Cup
Again, 8 teams were divided into two groups playing 60-over matches. This time, however, the teams played each other two times in the group stages before the top 2 teams in each group moved on to the semi-finals.
1987 Cricket World Cup
Initially, India had pitched to host the 3rd World Cup, but the bid was declined owing to shorter daylight hours on the Indian subcontinent. The 1987 World Cup was the first one to be held away from England, in India and Pakistan.
The teams played 50-over matches instead of 60-over ones, a decision which wasn't very popular with the audience at the time. This was also the first World Cup to feature neutral umpires. The 1987 World Cup followed the same format as 1983.
1992 Cricket World Cup
This marked the first use of coloured team clothing, white cricket balls and the use of floodlights. This marked a departure from the two groups of 4 teams each which were a staple of the previous World Cups.
Cricket World Cup Winners – An infographic by the team at AsiaBet.org
1996 Cricket World Cup
12 teams participated in the 1996 World Cup. The teams were divided into 2 groups of 6 teams each. The teams played each other once and 8 teams moved on to the knockout stages.
1999 Cricket World Cup
Like in 1996, there were 12 teams divided into two groups of 6 teams each. But this time instead of 8 teams advancing to the next stage, the top 6 teams advanced to a round-robin Super Six where each qualifying team from Group A played against each qualifying team from Group B.
Points earned against teams in the initial group stages were carried forward provided those opponents had also moved on to the Super Six stage. The top 4 teams from the Super Six stage advanced to the knockout semi-finals.
2003 Cricket World Cup
14 teams participated in the 2003 World Cup. This was a record at that time. The teams were divided into two groups of 7 teams each where each team played every other team in the group and the top 3 teams from each group advanced to a Super Six Round Robin stage. Of those 6 teams, the top 4 teams advanced to the semi-finals.
2007 Cricket World Cup
The 2007 World Cup had the most number of teams in the history of Cricket World Cups with 16 teams. The 16 teams were divided into 4 groups of 4 teams each.
The teams played other teams in their group once and the top 2 teams from each group qualified to the Super 8 round-robin where each team played the other once and the top 4 teams advanced to the semi-final stage.
2011 Cricket World Cup
The 2011 World Cup saw 14 teams divided into 2 groups of 7 teams each. The top 4 teams from each group advanced to the knockout stage. The 2015 World Cup will also follow a similar format.