A few years ago, the ICC introduced the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League – a competition designed to add another layer of intrigue to each bilateral ODI series.
The move has largely paid dividends, although the competitive nature has meant that several well-established sides face a nervous wait to automatically qualify for the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup in India. For those unaware, a victory guarantees 10 points, whereas a tie/no result/abandoned game fetches them 5 points. No points are awarded for a defeat. Penalty points for over-rate offences have also been included, with the number of transgressions taken into account when deducting points.
The format also specifies that each team will play eight series of three ODIs each against eight other sides. Of those, four will be played at home and the rest will take place overseas. Each team in the Cricket World Cup Super League will play 24 ODIs, based on which a points table will be formulated.
With India hosting the next edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup, they are guaranteed qualification. Seven automatic qualification spots are up for grabs with 12 teams in contention. The five bottom-placed sides would then compete in a qualifying tournament to determine who punches their ticket for the mega event.
At the moment, Bangladesh occupy the perch of the points table, having accumulated 100 points from 15 matches. England sit a rung below, having garnered 95 points from 15 games. India, meanwhile, occupy the third spot (79 points from 12 fixtures). Afghanistan are placed fourth, having mustered 70 points from nine encounters.
Afghanistan and Bangladesh have been in excellent form
Since April 2021, Bangladesh have been superb and have only lost two ODIs. Both of those defeats have come after they have won the series. While one came against Sri Lanka in May 2021, the other came against Afghanistan in February 2022. Afghanistan, on the other hand, have only lost twice in this cycle so far. With Afghanistan and Bangladesh exceeding expectations, a situation could arise where one of the established order misses out on automatic qualification. On paper, Afghanistan also have the ‘easiest’ set of fixtures of any of the sides involved.
As things stand, South Africa are marooned in ninth spot (39 points from 10 games). New Zealand are placed 12th (30 points) but have only played 3 matches. Pakistan also find themselves in a bit of bother, having put together 40 points from nine matches. West Indies have 50 points but have played 15 matches – the second-highest of anyone participating in the competition.
Australia are comfortably stationed at seventh, with 60 points from nice matches. Sri Lanka, however, have to rectify things quickly, considering they have played 18 matches and have only gotten 62 points.
Could one of the ‘big’ teams miss out?
There is a genuine possibility that one or two of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the West Indies miss out on automatic qualification. Partly because they haven’t been at their best, but largely because Afghanistan and Bangladesh have been exceptional.
Just like the ICC World Test Championship, all teams will not play each other during a particular cycle.
There is still plenty of time left before each team finishes its ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League assignments. And, things can change pretty quickly and quite drastically. But with each passing encounter, it feels that a couple of the traditionally ‘big’ teams might have to go through the grind of an additional qualification tournament.