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Try explaining this to the man on the street: Michael Atherton criticises new ICC Super League

The Super League was launched by ICC on Monday in a bid to give more importance to the 50-over format.

India TV Sports Desk Written by: India TV Sports Desk New Delhi Updated on: July 27, 2020 19:17 IST
Former England captain Michael Atherton
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

Former England captain Michael Atherton

Former England captain Michael Atherton, along with Ian Ward, criticised the newly-launched ICC ODI World Cup Suer League for its complex structure. 

The Super League was launched by ICC on Monday in a bid to give more importance to the 50-over format. The League will begin from July 30 onwards with the three-game series between England and Ireland at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. 

Ward, after explaining the format of the League Sky Sports Cricket, wondered why the governing council moved on from the old method of comparing teams. 

“It’s the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, I think I’ve got that right!” said Ward on Sky Sports Cricket. “Because they’re trying to put some sort of context onto these games and it’s all to do with qualifying for the next World Cup.

“So 13 teams in it, 12 full members plus the Netherlands. Each team plays three ODIs against eight of the other 12 teams. If you win you get 10 points. Hosts India and the next seven highest-placed teams will qualify automatically. The five sides failing to qualify automatically will join the five Associate nations and they will play the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier, and two teams from that qualifier will make it into the 10-team World Cup. What a mouthful that is! Why don’t they just do it on the rankings?”

Atherton laughed and agreed with Ward saying the format is "incredibly complex". 

“Now there’s always logic to these things, and Andrew [Strauss] is sat on the ICC Cricket Committee and he will know about this in more detail than I do,” said Atherton. “There is always logic in everything that happens, but what tends to happen is that it’s incredibly complex because what you’re trying to do is fit two systems together.

“You’ve got the ICC global events – World Cup, World T20, and what was the Champions Trophy – and you’re trying to marry that with the usual bilateral series in what’s called the Future Tours Programme where every team plays against each other. Trying to mix those two together is incredibly difficult, and you end up with this.

“Try explaining this to the man on the street, try explaining the World Test Championship to the man on the street, which we find it hard enough to understand and we work in the damn game, and then try explaining that to the man on the street. What you’ve really got to try and get is something that’s less complex and a bit more straightforward in order for people to understand.”

According to the League, 13 teams will compete over the next two years, where each team will face eight others in a three-game ODI series - four home and four away - based on which teams will be decided for the World Cup in 2023. India will have a direct qualification as mere hosts for the next tournament while seven top teams will directly earn a spot in the World Cup. The remaining five will join five other Associates in the ODI World Cup Qualifiers, of which two will be selected for the ten-team World Cup. For each win, 10 points will be awarded and five for draw, no result or abandonment. 

Strauss however defended the ICC saying that no matter what they would have come up with criticism would have followed. 

“It makes complete sense to try and find something more straightforward but it’s not possible,” he said. “We all talk about meaningless bilateral cricket that doesn’t have any context, and then the ICC try and put together the World Test Championship and everyone goes ‘the points system is too complicated’ and then they try the Super League and they say ‘Why are they doing that?’ They’re damned if they do, they’re damned if they don’t.”

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