Former England skipper Bob Willis has backed ICC plans for World Cup overhaul
Last Updated: 31/03/15 5:05pm
Former England skipper Bob Willis and ECB official Steve Elworthy have backed the International Cricket Council's plans to reduce the number of teams taking part in the next World Cup.
If the ICC go ahead with their proposals for the 2019 event in England and Wales, there will be 10 competing nations, which will be four fewer than this year's event in Australia and New Zealand.
Under current plans, 10 teams will take part and will feature in a round-robin tournament where every side will face each of the other nations in the competition.
This means they will all play nine matches during the group stage of the tournament. And Willis and Elworthy expect such a schedule to be endorsed by cricket supporters the world over, both those attending matches and others watching on TV.
There is no doubt that the best World Cup was in 1992 in Australia and New Zealand, where all nine teams played one another and the top four in that league went through to the semi-finals.
The eight Full Members of the ICC would be guaranteed their place - Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and West Indies - while the other two competing sides will book their place in the competition proper via a qualifying tournament.
This means countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Ireland, Scotland, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe would have to battle it out for the two remaining places.
But despite this reduction, Willis and Elworthy are confident it is a format likely to capture the imagination of the public.
Willis told Sky Sports News HQ: "There is no doubt that the best World Cup was in 1992 in Australia and New Zealand, where all nine teams played one another and the top four in that league went through to the semi-finals.
"By that system you get the best teams playing against the best teams, and that has to be what the public at the ground and on television want.
"Also, the ICC need to give more meaning to the many one-day series that teams play against each other every year.
"So when England face Australia in five one-day internationals after the Ashes, there should be points for each of those games going towards qualifying for the next World Cup.
"These 50-over games have to be more meaningful. These one-day series - whether it be three, five or seven matches - just disappear and no one remembers much about them.
"Unless someone does something special in these games, they are quickly forgotten and they need to change all that."
And Elworthy, who played four Tests and 39 ODIs for South Africa and is the ECB’s Director of Events, says the 10-team format would also be logistically easier to organise.
He told Sky Sports: "It will be discussed at an ICC level. From an operational point of view, when I look at a 10-team tournament, it is probably one of the best formats you can put together."Because with the schedule, you know all the teams are going to play nine round-robin games. So you can follow your team and put packages together."