Challenge League: Critics back new system for emerging game

Challenge League: Nipiko's Vanuatu players celebrate after dismissing Virandeep Singh of Malaysia | Live cricket calendar
Vanuatu players celebrate after dismissing Virandeep Singh of Malaysia

In the aftermath of the first completed leg of the Cricket World Cup Challenge League, critics have praised the new system aimed for providing more cricket for emerging nations.

In a shift away from the World Cricket League structure, the ICC has opted for a new structure, with one cycle between World Cups to allow for easier long-term planning for teams at the emerging level. While taking away the drama of thrilling continuous promotion and relegation across the leagues, it provides stability for national boards in their planning, and their players juggling work and other life commitments.

Every team in Malaysia tasted victory at the first leg of League A, made up of teams stretching from fifth in the last WCL2 tournament (Canada), to third in WCL5 in 2017 (Qatar). Qatar went on to finish with three wins from five matches.

Speaking on The Emerging Cricket Podcast, Russell Degnan believes the new format gives opportunities to teams who may have been stuck languishing at the bottom of the old system.

“I like it. I’ve never been a big fan of tiers and the main reason being that it can be very difficult to get promotions in World Cricket Leagues.

“To get one, two, three promotions to get up into the World Cup Qualifiers, that was always going to be a real challenge for a lot of those teams. So having a flatter structure is really promising,” Degnan opined.

Degnan, who publishes cricket analysis on his website and has also written for ESPN Cricinfo, believes teams on a fast-track of development can flourish, not having to go through two cycles per World Cup period.

“It means if a team comes into the Challenge League from the bottom or from a regional tournament they’ll be in a situation where you can win through this and then get into the World Cup Qualifiers relatively easily whereas previously you had to be promoted four or five times.”

Running parallel to League A, League B of the Challenge League commences in November – still scheduled to be held in Hong Kong despite the growing social unrest – with winners of both leagues keeping the 2023 Cricket World Cup dream alive.


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