ICC announce shorter World Cup format

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The Independent Online

The 2011 World Cup will be considerably shorter than the 2007 version, with the International Cricket Council today revealing a new format and vowing to learn from the mistakes made two and a half years ago in the Caribbean.

The new structure for the tournament in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which will see the overall number of games reduced from 51 to 49, will take over from the much-criticised six-week format of the last World Cup which began with four groups of four and progressed to a Super Eight stage.

"We're already certain that it will be shorter. You can be sure that we at the ICC had learnt from past mistakes," ICC president David Morgan said following a two-day board meeting in Johannesburg.

"I mean there is no doubt that the ICC World Cup in the Caribbean was unsuccessful in some aspects. We've learnt from that and I think that it's not worthy that we've now staged three highly successful events - 2007 and 2009 - World Twenty20 and now the Champions Trophy in the same years."

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat added: "We're on record as saying that we acknowledged that 2007 might have been longer than desired. So we want to take a week off, if not more."

England will face India and South Africa in an expanded seven-team group in the first round of the competition.

The new format - two groups of seven teams - was confirmed by the ICC today and England were placed in Group B, with West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and Holland also awaiting them.

On the grouping, Lorgat added: "We wanted to get the balance correct.

"We had one proviso that we would not have wanted more than two of the sub-continent teams in any one group.

"The rest depends on where you stand in the rankings and you use the formula that allocates the teams, dependent on your positioning on the ranking tables."

Meanwhile, Morgan claims the response received for the Champions Trophy has been "overwhelmingly positive".

Australia were crowned winners after beating New Zealand in the final on Monday, ending a two-week spectacle that had initially faced serious questions in the face of the rising popularity of Twenty20 cricket.

The 20-over format has grown rapidly worldwide and there have plenty of calls for the abolishment of its 50-over sibling, but there are no such sentiments coming from the ICC.

"A great deal of progress has been made," said Morgan.

"The cricket was enthralling and the feedback on the event has been overwhelmingly positive.

"It's been well received by the cricketers, spectators and the board members. I believe the cricketing world thoroughly enjoyed this re-branded competition as I did."

Morgan, whose comments come after several competing captains also gave the tournament the thumbs-up, insists there is a room for one-day cricket to continue existing on the international calendar.

He continued: "It also gives me immense pleasure to say the quality of cricket we have seen in the last 14 days proves that 50-over format can comfortably co-exist with the traditional five-day Test and the short 20-over formats.

"We're very pleased with an exhibition of 50-over cricket over a short period of time involving the top-eight teams in the world.

"We believe that the sport of cricket is advantaged by having three properties at international level - Test match cricket, one-day international cricket and Twenty20 cricket.

"It's important to optimise the programme of recognising that we have those three vibrant forms of the game."

Regarding Test cricket, Morgan said the ICC would continue to look at ways to safeguard the game.

He added: "We continue to recognise Test match cricket as the pinnacle of our game. It's the form of the game that emerging cricketers aspire to.

"We've just seen a wonderful Test series between England and Australia in the Ashes. And quite clearly we want to make other series as important and as interesting as matches between India and Pakistan and Australia and England.

"I know that this is a big task, but it's one that we engaged in."