Cricket has a big spread of tournaments internationally, where the best players in the world compete for their country’s glory. Not all tournaments are played in the same fashion, however, and the formats can change from competition to competition. Let’s look at the major tournaments, from Test series to Twenty20 and beyond.
ICC Cricket World Cup
This is the gold standard of One Day International cricket that takes place every four years. It’s one of the most watched sporting events in the world and carries the most interest for non-Test cricket playing. The event is separated into two parts, the qualifying stage and the tournament proper itself. Due to the match format, the pace of play at this tournament is very hectic, which, combined with the highest level of play from the best teams in the world, leads to some of the most thrilling matches of the cricketing calendar.
After the Cricket World Cup, this is the biggest One Day International tournament in the world. Comprising of eight teams playing by invitation of the International Cricket Council, the eight teams compete in two groups, with the top two sides from each group going on to the semi-finals stages. The winner from Group A plays the runner-up from Group B and vice versa. This is a great tournament for fans looking to find matches where the pace of play leans more towards the fast and loose.
ICC World Twenty20
Usually held every two years, this is the biggest tournament around for Twenty20 cricket, where each team is limited to one inning and twenty overs. For this reason, the pace of play goes through the roof, and many of the participants are far more likely to throw caution to the wind. This makes it a bit of a favourite with punters, as the action has a tendency to go in unexpected directions. It takes in 16 teams, ten of which are full International Cricket Council members. The other six are from associate members, who get a chance to compete through a qualifier process, which is great for those who enjoy watching an underdog get a shot at the big time.
The Ashes Series
Perhaps the most legendary rivalry in cricket, the Ashes is a Test match series between England and Australia that has been running since 1882. The term relates to a joking newspaper article that English cricket had “died” after Australia’s 1882 win against England at the Oval and that the body would be cremated and taken back to Australia. The English team then vowed to win it back, and the tournament has been a legendary fixture in the sport ever since. Despite having been played for more than a century, the Ashes overall series results remain incredibly close with, to this date, Australia winning by 33 and England a whisker behind by 32. This is truly one of the most thrilling grudge matches, not just in cricket, but in all of sport.
Champions League Twenty20
Unlike the ICC tournaments, this competition took the top league talent from all the biggest cricketing nations and pitted them against each other in a group stage format, followed by a two-round knockout. Being that the tournament is run from India, many of the teams involved come from that part of the world, but Caribbean teams have historically put in a strong showing at the competition. However, due to difficulties around the organisation and broadcasting of the tournament, the event has been defunct since 2014.
Test cricket is truly the gold standard of world cricket, where only the best teams compete against gruelling matches that span across four innings and can take as long as five days to complete. It’s a different game entirely from limited overs cricket, and the teams here are all playing the long game in a tournament where slow and steady almost always wins the race. There’s no formal tournament structure here: instead, all ten of the Test status teams circulate play with each other, in a format roughly designed to ensure that every team plays each other over within no less than six years, with a running ranking system keeping score, while perpetual trophies between each set of opposing teams go back and forth depending on the last winner. This is the pinnacle of cricket, where endurance, stamina and mental fortitude mark the difference between winning and losing.
This One Day International cricket competition first took place in England in 2000, sponsored by the National Westminster Bank. Originally it took on a triangular format, where England and two visiting international teams would all play each other once before the top two sides would go on to face each other in a final at the historic cricket grounds of Lord’s. The triangular format was done away within 2006 when it was decided that England would engage in separate series against each visiting team. This tournament has not been held since 2012.
Officiated by the England and Wales Cricket Board, the ECB Premier League is the top promotion in British regional cricket. This division functions as a showcase for the future developments of the United Kingdom’s cricketing talent, and there’s been nary an Ashes star who hasn’t touched the green coming up in this competition. In addition to the competitive impetus, the ECB participants are expected to fly the flag for the sport and inculcate the next generations of talent waiting in the wings to make their mark on the international scene. Although the players are mostly drawn from Wales and Great Britain, there’s a provision for each side to accommodate an international player, in a system that mirrors commensurate participatory systems in South African and Australian divisional memberships.
Following on from the premise of the ECB league, the Royal London One-Day Cup is a single innings tournament limited to fifty overs that take in the very best of regional cricketing talent from the sport’s parent nation. Although it initially started with an over-limit comparable to the Twenty20 match format, the fifty limit was adopted to bring the competition in line with the standard One Day International format. The eighteen teams involved have always displayed a tendency to play some absolutely ferocious games of cricket, as the players have always known full well that prospering in this division is a great way to make one’s name on the road to getting called up to the international big leagues.