If your stereotype of cricket is that it lasts several days, you may be in for a shock. More and more cricket is being played these days in its abbreviated forms — the “one-day” format and the even shorter “Twenty20” game, which can easily be shorter than a typical baseball game.
And yet its competitions go on for years and years.
So when we tell you the World Cricket League Division 4 will be in Los Angeles, starting this weekend, we need to give a bit of context.
First, this is neither Test cricket nor Twenty20. It’s one-day cricket, which takes pretty much the whole day.
“Division 4” implies promotion and relegation. And indeed, there is. But it’s really more of a rolling tiered qualifier for the 2019 World Cup.
The 2019 World Cup will have 10 teams, down from 14 in 2011 and 2015. It will feature:
- 8 teams from the One-Day International (ODI) Championship — basically, the 12 teams with full “ODI status,” which are the 10 nations with “Test” status (see below), plus Ireland and Afghanistan.
- 2 teams from the World Cup qualifier.
The World Cup qualifier, in 2018, will feature:
- 4 teams (the bottom four) from the ODI Championship.
- 4 teams (the top four) from the World Cricket League Championship, an ongoing (2015-17) competition for the second tier of national teams.
- 2 teams promoted from Division 2.
Division 2, in 2018-ish, will feature:
- 4 teams relegated from the World Cricket League Championship.
- 2 teams promoted from Division 3
Division 3, next year, will feature:
- 2 teams already relegated from when Division 2 last played in 2015.
- 2 teams that kept their place when Division 3 last played in 2014
- 2 teams that will be promoted from Division 4.
Which brings us back to Los Angeles. And you guessed it — in addition to the two teams that will be promoted to Division 3, two will remain in Division 4, and the bottom two will play in Division 5 whenever this whole cycle starts again.
Yes, I’ve had to get all this from Wikipedia, because good luck finding an explanation elsewhere.
Here’s who’s who:
TEST STATUS (10; all also have ODI status): Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies have all participated in all 11 Cricket World Cups. They’re also the only winners (Australia 5, India 2, West Indies 2, Sri Lanka 1, Pakistan 1, England nil, New Zealand nil). South Africa has played all seven since apartheid ended. Zimbabwe has been in the last nine, Bangladesh in the last five.
ODI STATUS ONLY (2): Ireland and Afghanistan. Ireland has been in the last three World Cups. Afghanistan debuted in 2015.
WORLD CRICKET LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP (8; top four advance to World Cup qualifier): In order of current standings, it’s Papua New Guinea, Netherlands, Scotland, Hong Kong, Kenya, Nepal, Namibia and United Arab Emirates. Kenya used to be great in this sport, qualifying for five straight World Cups and reaching the semifinal in 2003, but they missed out in 2015. Netherlands have made it four times, Scotland three, UAE twice, Namibia once.
DIVISION 2 (6): Will be the bottom four from the World Cricket League Championship and the top two from Division 3.
DIVISION 3 (6): Uganda and Canada were relegated from the last Division 2 competition in 2015. Malaysia and Singapore kept their spots when Division 3 last played in 2014. Then it’s the top two from Division 4 …
DIVISION 4 (6): USA and Bermuda were relegated from Division 3. Denmark and Italy kept their spots. Jersey and Oman were promoted from Division 5.
So yes, the USA could make it to the World Cup. Just finish in the top two in Los Angeles, then in the Division 3 tournament, then in the Division 2 tournament, then in the World Cup qualifier.
Piece of cake, right?
All of this is happening just as the USA has yet another plan for a professional league on the table. The problem is that this isn’t the first attempt. Here’s a quick timeline:
2004: American ProCricket. Twenty20 with a designated hitter who doesn’t have to field, plus fewer restrictions on bowlers. San Francisco Freedom? Los Angeles Unity??!!
The final was held on a baseball field with the infield dirt in place:
2000s: Major League Cricket. Had no support from the fractious U.S. federation and never actually played.
2009: American Premier League, also unsanctioned, and federations worked to sandbag it.
2009: USA Premier League, announced by U.S. federation to start in 2011.
2011: American Twenty20 Championship, a tournament pitting region vs. region, played once.
2012: Cricket Holdings America announces franchise process.
2015: American Pro Cricket, announced by Lloyd Jodah of American College Cricket.
September 2016: USA Cricket Association and Global Sports Ventures reach $70M licensing deal.
Will the international tournament on U.S. soil help prod a pro league into existence? We can only hope. But first, maybe someone in the media will notice that it’s actually happening?