Should future Under-19 World Cups be played in the T20 format?
With innings being done and dusted in as less as 7.4 and 11.4 overs, is it not fair to truncate the format to T20 and allow the 'minnows' a greater chance of winning games?
Nigeria manage 61 runs and are bowled out in 30.3 overs. Australia blast the required runs in 7.4 overs. Result: Australia win by 10 wickets.
Japan fold up for 41 in 22.5 overs against India. The defending champions chase it down in a ridiculous 4.5 overs. Result: India win by 10 wickets.
Scotland skittle out for 75 in 23.5 overs. Pakistan chase it down in just 11.4 overs. Result: Pakistan win by 7 wickets.
In their next match, Scotland again collapse for 89 in 30.3 overs. Bangladesh reach the target in 16.4 overs. Result: Bangladesh win by 7 wickets.
West Indies post a hefty 303/8 total on the board. Nigeria can only reach as far as 57-all out in 21.4 overs. Result: West Indies win by 246 runs.
These are only a handful of the several extremely one-sided matches witnessed in the group stage of the ICC Under 19 World Cup 2020. With the matches being decided in a fraction of the allotted overs, is it an unfair suggestion for the ICC to consider hosting the tournament in the T20 format in future?
Before you put this aside as rubbish. Allow me to explain.
As per the existing system, the Under-19 World Cup is played in the standard 50-over format. 16 teams have been placed into four pools of four, with each side facing the other three members of their group in the first stage.
The top two sides from each pool then advance to the Super League stage while the others enter the Plate League. Every team then competes in the playoffs. The winners in both the Super and Plate leagues make it to the semi-finals, and ultimately the finals.
Now having as many as 16 teams in the tournament is a welcome move. With the ICC looking to spread the game across the world, it is essential for more and more countries to be allowed participation, especially at a young age so that the talent can bloom and finally graduate to represent their senior teams.
However, with more teams, there is also the obvious byproduct of a dip in quality. The thumb rule for cricket, or for that matter any game, is that the longer the format, more the weightage to skill, as luck and other uncontrollables can not affect the result that much.
With the tournament being played in the 50-over format, there is substantial skill required by all teams. That would have been perfectly fine had all teams been on equal footing. With teams like Japan and Nigeria lacking infrastructure, funds or just beginning to enter the sport, it is obvious for their skills will be inferior to those who have been the exponents of this sport since decades.
If the ICC wants to persist with the 50-over format, for better all-round development in age-group level, they can consider a system like the senior men's T20 WC. Let the 'minnows' play among themselves and then the top four qualify for the main draw.
As inspiring the story of the likes of Japan cricket is, with matches being drastically one-sided, it degrades the quality of the tournament and almost discourages the viewer to tune in on a regular basis.
Hence, it is only fair to truncate the format into T20 so that even 'minnows' have a greater chance of winning games. After all, there is hardly any point in innings being done and dusted in 7.4 or 11.4 overs.
©Cricket World 2020