Writing about the fate of the Associate members in the next World Cup, Sharda Ugra ended her piece with what can be read as a lament. "One thing, though, is clear. Cricket's World Cup is never going to be the same again." Taken literally, though, she was merely stating what's been true since 1979: the first two World Cups were identical but since then no two tournaments have been the same.
No other global tournament, much less a World Cup, can lay claim to such persistent tinkering. But it might be simplistic to lay all the blame at the doors of the administrators. True, they can be accused of knee-jerk responses and a certain lack of steadfastness and clarity, but, to a large degree, the ever-changing nature of the World Cup is a reflection of the churning the game has undergone in the last thirty years and the peculiar - and in many ways perilous - construct of the cricket economy.
In principle, the format of the last World Cup was perfect. It accommodated 16 teams, which meant slots for Kenya, Bermuda, Canada, Holland, Ireland, and Scotland, but there were four groups of four and the preliminary rounds comprised only 24 matches and spanned 12 days. So it was effectively a tournament of two halves; the Super Eights was meant to be the serious part, to be followed by semi-finals and the final. It could be said that the administrators had learnt from the mistakes of the 1999 and 2003 when, despite having fewer teams, it took an eternity to eliminate the lesser teams.