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T20 WC 2024 biggest ICC event till date with 20 teams; Is a 32-team tourney in the future feasible?

T20 World Cup 2024 is by far the biggest ICC tournament till date with 20 teams. Will ICC aim to have a 32-team cricket world cup like Football in near future?

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 is the biggest event in terms of team's participation (20 Teams) | Walking Wicket (Photo: ©X/Twitter)
20 teams participating in ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 (Photo: ©X/Twitter)

The 2007 Cricket World T20 had 12 teams, including all the 10 then Test-playing nations, and two minnows in Kenya and Scotland. It was held in South Africa and the tournament was won by India. Cut to T20 World Cup 2024, the tournament has 20 teams and is being co-hosted by the United States of America (USA), where cricket is still in its nascent stage. 

Multiple teams in the 2024 World T20 may lead to quite a few one-sided games and it might not draw as many spectators in the United States as cricket is not even a second or third-choice sport. Nevertheless, the decision to rope in 20 teams and host the tournament in the United States is a masterstroke for many reasons.

T20 format is the way to go

For lovers of sports such as football that ends within two hours, T20 cricket also ends in a little over three hours. Thus, giving an opportunity to fans to binge watch cricket as well. On the other hand, the other two formats - ODIs and Tests - may not draw as many spectators as it takes 8-9 hours and five days, respectively. Hence, these two formats would fail to create a loyal fan base who cannot devote that much time to follow the game. 

Therefore, T20 cricket is the way forward to draw more spectators. The greater is the number of countries participating in a multi-nation tournament such as the World T20, the better it is for cricket going global. It would bring in more sponsors, make more money and draw younger talent to the sport. Besides, the T20 format has caught up with other multi-sport tournaments such as the Commonwealth, Asian Games and even the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. The T20 format’s participation in such tournaments would only boost the popularity of the sport.

US could be a big market for cricket in the future

By giving hosting rights for the 2024 World T20 to the United States, the ICC has done a great service to the sport. The United States could be one of the best markets for cricket, attracting neighbouring European countries to take up the sport and participate in multi-nation cricket tournaments in the future. Besides, cricket has potential to not only compete with other popular leagues in the US such as National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association, but also find its own place in the sun. 

Cricket gets a go ahead in LA Olympics 2028 | Walking Wicket (Photo: ©Twitter/X)
Cricket gets a go ahead in LA Olympics 2028 (Photo: ©Twitter/X)
Not only a sport for elite countries

“Cricket is a great leveller” and “cricket is a gentleman’s game”. There are many quotes that can be attributed to cricket. Another one that can be added, thanks to the 2024 World T20 is that “cricket is not just for elite countries/teams”. In the current edition, teams such as Papua New Guinea (PNG), Uganda and Oman, who are minnows of the sport are competing against world’s top teams. And it has been only possible after the ICC opened its door for more participation from countries where cricket is not so popular. 

As these teams cannot compete in Tests or ODIs, 2024 World T20 is the best platform for them to showcase their talent and improve their game, playing against top cricket teams of the world. Hence, seeing PNG, Uganda and Oman participating in World T20 would motivate other countries to take up cricket as well. 

Can World T20 go the football way and get 32 teams to participate in the upcoming editions?

FIFA’s strategy to have 32 teams to compete in the World Cup has seen the popularity of the sport rise, with minnows creating thrilling upsets and even marching ahead to the knockouts. Morocco made it to the semis, while Japan knocked out Germany in the group stages of the previous football World Cup. Taking cue from the success of the previous football World Cup, where minnows grabbed headlines, FIFA has extended the number of teams to 48 for the next edition in 2026. 

ICC too could go ahead with at least 32 teams in the World T20 in the near future. It would create many advantages to make cricket a global sport. It would lead to more sponsorship and revenue, leading to better cricketing infrastructure and popularity of the sport. As new countries get added to the 104 member countries in the ICC fold, young talented cricketers from these nations would come to the forefront and make a career out of the sport.

Having 32 teams in the World T20 could have its share of challenges in terms of planning, length of the tournament, logistics and more one-sided games. But this could be a small price to pay to make cricket a global sport. World T20 could go the football way where it could be held every four years. Moreover, many countries could play qualifiers to get a place in the 32-team tournament, thus adding more value, credibility and aura to the title. 


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