World Cup 2019: The Stage Is Set

17 May,2019

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

Less than two weeks from now, a six-week long cricket festival will be underway. The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England is set to be one of the Top 2 media events of the year, at par in hype and excitement with the General Elections, another six-week long event that will conclude days before the World Cup.

 

T20 cricket has overtaken the longer 50-over version in terms of popular interest over the last decade. But the World Cup is still by far the most coveted title in cricket. Coming only once in four years, it has managed to retain its charm even as eight hours of cricket viewing at a stretch becomes an otherwise consumer-unfriendly idea in the fast-paced times we live in today.

 

Two specific aspects will aid the engagement with this World Cup even more. The match timings are extremely friendly to India, with 3pm starts for most matches, including all India matches, the semis and the final. 3-11pm is inarguably the best eight-hour time-band for Indian television, and the second innings is particularly well-timed, starting at 7.15pm.

 

The second factor is the format of the World Cup itself. The tournament is back to easily its most interesting format ever, used only once previously in the 1992 World Cup in Australia-New Zealand. In this format, each of the 10 teams plays each other once each in an elaborate 45-match league format, followed by the three knockout games. Reducing the number of total teams from 12 or 14 earlier to 10 means that the inconsequential minnow games, which would earlier be almost 35-40% of the total draw, are eliminated altogether. Afghanistan, a rising International cricket team with some top-level cricketers, is the ‘minnow’ of this World Cup. They are sure to spring a surprise or two, and given their recent track record, no competition is going to take them lightly.

 

Recent formats had eight teams reaching the quarter finals, which made the league (group) stage come across as a long and tedious warm-up. This time, four out of 10 positions have to be hard-earned, and we can expect a tight points table throughout, much like the 1992 World Cup and the IPL in most years, including 2019.

 

The hype for the World Cup is nowhere close to peaking right now. The media’s and public’s pre-occupation currently is the General Elections. We are two days away from exit poll results and exactly a week away from the big results day. The World Cup buzz will begin to pick up soon after May 23, and it will be unrelenting thereafter, all the way till md-July. Or even longer, if India wins the title.

It’s time to brace yourself and be prepared for thrilling sports extravaganza.

 

Shailesh Kapoor is going on a short vacation from next week. His column will be back on MxMIndia on June 14.

 

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