Having fast become the most popular format of the sport, the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is currently underway in Australia, thrilling spectators with the habitually faster pace. Ever since Twenty20 was introduced and then, the ICC granted T20 international status to all it’s 105 members from January 2019, the profile of cricket has enjoyed a welcome boost.
But considering there are so many members of the International Cricket Council (ICC), should the governing body of cricket now consider expanding what has become its flagship competition? The One Day International (ODI) format currently features just 10 teams, although it will expand to 14 from 2027 onwards, while there are 16 teams involved in the T20 World Cup tournament.
There is certainly plenty of scope to expand the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup, which inevitably brings us to making some comparisons with the FIFA World Cup in football. Inevitably, it would require some considerable debate amongst member nations, with plenty of additional organisation and planning. Let’s take a look at the history and formats of both competitions.
FIFA Football World Cup
When the very first FIFA World Cup was first hosted by Uruguay back in 1930, only 13 national teams from just 3 federations participated. Notable by their absence were England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, who held their own “Home Nations” championship, which they considered to be more important.
Nevertheless, the FIFA World Cup went on to become a phenomenal success, with 16 teams participating at the 1934 edition and 15 in 1938, before the Second World War. Once peace resumed following the global conflict, there were just 13 teams in 1950, then 16 again from 1954 through to the 1978 tournament, before the first major expansion.
Ahead of the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain, a new format was agreed that would feature 24 teams from 6 confederations, based around a format with two initial group phases. While the 1986 tournament also featured 24 teams, the format was adapted to begin with just one group stage, followed by a knockout phase, which remained the same in 1990 and 1994.
For the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, the tournament made its most notable expansion to date, increasing to 32 participant national teams and playing 64 games in total. This will remain the same at the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which is expected to be viewed by over 5 billion people around the globe.
Indeed, such is the massive popularity of the current World Cup tournament format, it also generates incredible wagering interest, as punters look to find the best WC football betting options available. This has led to in-depth guides from experts like SBO, who provide a wealth of information and advice, including tips and reviews covering the top betting sites.
But perhaps most interesting of all, with global viewership of the 2022 World Cup expected to surpass 5 billion, FIFA has already decided to expand their flagship international tournament even further. The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, featuring 48 teams playing 80 matches over 32 days with an adapted format.
ICC T20 Cricket World Cup
Following the end of the Benson & Hedges Cup in 2002, the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) sought a replacement one day competition. Cricket authorities were already looking to improve the game’s popularity, due to dwindling attendances and increased challenges in securing sponsorship, which inspired the 20-overs format being introduced.
The intention of the ECB was to deliver a faster-paced version of cricket, making the sport more accessible to the younger generation in particular, who were largely uninterested in the longer versions of the game. This led to the Twenty20 Cup being launched in 2004, which proved successful, along with the biggest attendance at Lords for any game since 1953.
Soon afterwards, Twenty20 was adopted by numerous other cricket boards around the world. In 2005 the Faysal Bank T20 Cup was held in Pakistan, while the Stanford 20/20 tournament was held in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, the first ever full international Twenty 20 match was played, as New Zealand took on Australia at Eden Park in Auckland.
The inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 was the first international world championship, embracing the new and faster 20-overs format, held in South Africa and featuring 12 teams competing in four initial groups. England hosted the next edition in 2009, then West Indies in 2010, when it was agreed the tournament would be hosted every two years.
Despite initial plans to increase the number of participants to 16 in 2012, this was reverted to just 12 teams, although from 2014 onwards the tournament has featured 16 international teams competing in two group stages. The same format is currently in use at the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, featuring 45 matches in total.
In 2021 the ICC agreed to expand the flagship T20 tournament further, featuring 20 participant international selections and increased qualification. This tournament will be jointly hosted by the West Indies and the United States. This event will also feature an enhanced league structure, which could pave the way for even more participants at future tournaments.