World Cup: History, Format and More

The Cricket World Cup (officially known as the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup) is the international one-day international (ODI) cricket championship. The International Cricket Council (ICC) organises the event every four years, with prelim qualification rounds and finally a finals tournament. The tournament is one of the most watched sporting events in the world, and the ICC refers to it as the "flagship event of the international cricket calendar."

The first World Cup was held in England in June 1975, four years after the first one-day international cricket match. Nevertheless, two years prior to the first men's tournament, an independent Women's Cricket World Cup was organized, and a world championship involving different international teams was held in 1912, when a triangular tournament of Test matches was contested between Australia, England, and South Africa. England hosted the first three World Cups. Since the 1987 tournament, hosting was shared among countries through an unofficial rotation policy, with fourteen ICC representatives hosting at least one match.

The current format includes a qualification phase that lasts three years to figure out which teams advance to the tournament phase. During the tournament phase, ten teams, including the automatically eligible host nation, compete for the crown for over a month at venues throughout the host country. The format for the 2027 edition will be altered to adjust for a 14-team final contest.

A total of twenty teams have participated in the eleven editions of the tournament, with ten teams playing in the recently held 2019 tournament. Australia has won the competition five times, India and the West Indies have won it twice each, and Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and England have each won it once. Kenya reached the tournament's semi-finals as the best performance by a non-full-member team.

England is the present World Cup champion after winning the championship in 2019. The next world championship will be held in India in 2023, followed by the World Cup in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia in 2027.

History

On September 24 and 25, 1844, Canada and the United States played the first international cricket match. The first credited Test match, however, was contested in 1877 between Australia and England, and the two teams competed for The Ashes on a regular basis in subsequent years. In 1889, South Africa was granted Test status. Cricket representative teams were chosen to tour one another, culminating in a bilateral tournament. Cricket was also added as an Olympic sport at the 1900 Paris Games, where Great Britain won the gold medal after defeating France. Cricket made its only appearance at the Summer Olympics.

The 1912 Triangular Tournament, a Test cricket tournament played in England between all three Test-playing nations at the time: England, Australia, and South Africa was the first multilateral international competition. The event was a flop: the summer was unusually wet, making it hard to play on moist uncovered pitches, and crowd numbers were low, owing to a "surfeit of cricket." Since then, international Test cricket has mostly been organised as bilateral series; the last multilateral Test tournament was the triangular Asian Test Championship in 1999.

With the involvement of the West Indies in 1928, New Zealand in 1930, India in 1932, and Pakistan in 1952, the number of countries playing Test cricket progressively increased over time. However, international cricket was still played as three, four, or five-day bilateral Test matches.

English county cricket teams started playing a short form of cricket that persisted for only one day, in the early 1960s. One-day cricket became increasingly popular in England beginning in 1962 with a four-team knockout model. This model was known as the Midlands Knock-Out Cup and proceeded with the inaugural Gillette Cup in 1963. In 1969, a national Sunday League was established. The first One-Day International event took place in Melbourne in 1971, on the fifth day of a rain-abated Test match between England and Australia, to fill the time and compensate for the disappointed crowd. The game consisted of forty overs with eight balls per over.

Kerry Packer founded the World Series Cricket (WSC) competition in the late 1970s. Many now-standard features of One Day International cricket were introduced, such as coloured uniforms, matches played at sundown under floodlights with a white ball and dark sight screens, and, for telecasts, different camera angles, effects microphones to record sounds from the players on the field, and on-screen visuals. The first match with coloured jerseys was played on January 17, 1979, at VFL Park in Melbourne, between the WSC Australians in wattle gold and the WSC West Indians in coral pink. The accomplishment and viewership of domestic one-day competitions in England and other parts of the world, as well as early One-Day Internationals, urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to consider setting up a Cricket World Cup.

Format

Qualification

From the first World Cup in 1975 to the 2019 World Cup, the vast majority of teams started competing automatically. Until the 2015 World Cup, this was primarily accomplished through Full Membership in the ICC, and for the 2019 World Cup, it was primarily accomplished through ranking position in the ICC ODI Championship.

From the second World Cup in 1979 to the 2019 World Cup, the teams that qualified automatically were joined by a small number of others who qualified via the qualification process. The ICC Trophy was the first qualifying tournament, and the process was later expanded with pre-qualifying tournaments. The ICC World Cricket League replaced previous pre-qualifying processes for the 2011 World Cup, and the name "ICC Trophy" was changed to "ICC World Cup Qualifier." The World Cricket League was the qualification system established to give the ICC's Associate and Affiliate members more opportunities to qualify. The number of qualifying teams has fluctuated over the years.

Only the host nation(s) will qualify automatically beginning with the 2023 World Cup. To determine qualification, all countries will compete in a series of leagues, with automatic promotion and relegation between divisions from one World Cup cycle to the next.

Tournament

The Cricket World Cup format has evolved significantly over the years. The first four tournaments featured eight teams divided into two groups of four. The competition was divided into two stages: group and knock-out. In the round-robin group stage, the four teams in each group played each other, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the semi-finals. In the final, the semi-final winners faced off against each other. As a result of the end of the apartheid boycott, South Africa returned to the fifth tournament in 1992, with nine teams playing each other once in the group phase, and the top four teams progressed to the semi-finals. In 1996, the tournament was expanded to two groups of six teams. Each group's top four teams advanced to the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

For the World Cups in 1999 and 2003, a unique format was used. The teams were divided into two pools, with the top three teams from each pool progressing to the Super 6. The Super 6 teams faced the three other teams from the other group. As they advanced, the teams carried their previous match points forward against other teams advancing alongside them, providing an incentive to perform well in the group stages. The top four teams from the Super 6 stage advanced to the semi-finals, with the winners going on to compete in the final.

The 2007 World Cup format included 16 teams divided into four groups. The teams in each group played each other in a round-robin format. Teams were awarded points for victories and half-points for ties. The top two teams in each group advanced to the Super 8 round. The Super 8 teams faced the other six teams that advanced from their respective groups. Teams earned points in the same manner as in the group stage but carried over their points from previous matches against the other teams who advanced to the Super 8 stage from the same group. The top four teams from the Super 8 round advanced to the semi-finals, and the semi-final winners competed in the final.

In both the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, two groups of seven teams competed in a round-robin format. The top four teams from each group advanced to the knockout stage, which included quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the final.

The number of teams competing in the 2019 World Cup has been reduced to ten. Every team was scheduled to play each other once in a round-robin format before moving on to the semifinals, a format similar to the 1992 World Cup. The World Cups in 2027 and 2031 will feature 14 teams.

Trophy

The ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy is awarded to the World Cup winners. The current trophy was designed for the 1999 championships and was the tournament's first permanent prize. Previously, different trophies were created for each World Cup. Over the course of two months, a team of craftsmen from Garrard & Co in London designed and produced the trophy.

The current trophy is made of silver and gilt, with a golden globe supported by three silver columns. The stumps and bails shaped columns represent the three fundamental aspects of cricket: batting, bowling, and fielding, while the globe represents a cricket ball. The seam is angled to represent the Earth's axial tilt. It is 60 centimeters tall and weighs about 11 kilograms. The names of previous winners are engraved on the trophy's base, with room for a total of twenty inscriptions. The original trophy is kept by the ICC. The winning team is permanently awarded a replica that differs only in the inscriptions.

Selection of Hosts

The International Cricket Council's executive committee selects the tournament's hosts after reviewing bids from nations interested in hosting a Cricket World Cup.

The first three competitions were held in England. The ICC chose England to host the first tournament because it was willing to devote the resources needed to organise the inaugural event. The third Cricket World Cup was offered to India, but the majority of ICC members preferred England because the longer period of daylight in England in June meant that a match could be completed in one day. The 1987 Cricket World Cup was the first to be held outside of England, in India and in Pakistan.

Many tournaments have been co-hosted by nations from the same geographical region, including South Asia in 1987, 1996, and 2011, Australasia (in Australia and New Zealand) in 1992 and 2015, Southern Africa in 2003, and the West Indies in 2007.

In November 2021, the ICC announced the names of the hosts for ICC events to be held between the years 2024 and 2031. The 50-over World Cup, T20 World Cup, and Champions Trophy hosts were chosen through a competitive bidding process.

Tournament Summary

At least twenty countries have qualified for the Cricket World Cup. Every tournament has had seven teams compete, with six of them winning the championship. The first two tournaments were won by the West Indies, Australia won five, India won two, and Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and England each won once. Only the West Indies (1975 and 1979) and Australia (1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2015) have won consecutive titles. Seven of the twelve finals have been played in Australia (1975, 1987, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015). New Zealand has yet to win the World Cup but has finished second twice (2015 and 2019). Kenya's semi-final appearance in the 2003 tournament is the best result by a non-Test playing nation, while Ireland's Super 8 (second round) appearance in 2007 is the best result by a non-Test playing team on their debut.

Sri Lanka was the first co-host to win the World Cup in 1996, despite the fact that the final was held in Pakistan. India was the first team to win a final played in their own country when they won in 2011. Australia and England both repeated the feat in 2015 and 2019. Aside from that, England reached the final as a host in 1979.

Other countries that have achieved or equalled their best World Cup results while co-hosting the tournament include New Zealand, which finished as finalists in 2015, Zimbabwe, which reached the Super Six in 2003, and Kenya, which finished as semi-finalists in 2003. In 1987, co-hosts India and Pakistan both advanced to the semi-finals before being knocked out by England and Australia, respectively. Australia was eliminated in the first round in 1992, England in 1999, South Africa in 2003, and Bangladesh in 2011.

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