And so the hosts Sri Lanka are in the finals of the World T20.
They will face the winners of tomorrow’s match between Australia and the West Indies but no matter who the face I think Sri Lanka will be considered favorites because, of course, they will have home field advantage.
Which got me thinking: how have the hosts fared in other cricket world cups (both ODI as well as T20) and are they receiving a home field advantage to the point where the ICC should look into holding their tournaments in neutral locations such as the UAE, for example?
In the ODI format, there have been 10 World Cups. The host nation has only won the tournament twice, 1996 (Sri Lanka) and of course 2011 (India). The caveat there being that both those tournaments were hosted by three different nations (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and India in 1996 and Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh last year) and the final of the ’96 tournament was held in Pakistan.
It is also an admittedly small sample size but interesting that both tournaments where a host nation won were on the Subcontinent.
How did the host nations that did not win perform?
Here’s a list:
1975, England: lost in the semi-finals to Australia (winner: West Indies)
1979, England: lost in the final to the West Indies (winner: West Indies)
1983, England: lost in the semi-finals to India (winner: India)
1987, India & Pakistan: both teams won their respective groups but both lost in the semi-finals; India to England and Pakistan to Australia (winner: Australia)
1992, Australia and New Zealand: Australia did not qualify for the knockout stages, while New Zealand lost in the semi-finals (winner: Pakistan)
1996, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan: Sri Lanka won the whole thing, India lost to Sri Lanka in the semi-finals (match held in India) while Pakistan lost to India in the quarter-finals (match also held in India)
1999, England: finished fourth in the their group and did not qualify for the second round (super sixes) (winner: Australia)
2003, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe: Oddly, South Africa did not qualify for the super sixes, while its fellow hosts did. Zimbabwe did not however advance to the knockout stages, but Kenya did, where they lost to India in the semi-finals. (winner: Australia)
2007, the West Indies: The Windies won their group but did not advance past the super sixes (winner: Australia)
2011, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan: India won the whole thing, as mentioned, beating fellow host Sri Lanka in the final. Bangladesh did not make it past the super eights.
And in the T20 version there have been three world cups, and the host nation has not won of any of them.
2007, South Africa: advanced to second round (super eights) but did not advance to knockout stages (winner: India)
2009, England: same as South Africa in ’07 (winner: Pakistan)
2010, West Indies: same as England in ’09 and South Africa in ’07 (winner: England)
Based on all of the above, it looks as though the ICC should continue to select host nations using the same format they currently use, as it does not seem to provide an unnecessarily unfair home field advantage to the host nations. And there even does not seem to be an advantage based solely on conditions. Subcontinental teams do not seem to have an unfair advantage in subcontinental conditions, for example.
Looking at other sports as I am want to do:
Football has recently taken to awarding major tournaments to countries that are not known as world footballing powerhouses. They do this under the guise of growing the game around the world, but it might have a little bit to do with not giving the home field advantage to teams that simply do not need it.
A couple examples here include the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 1994 World Cup in the USA…etc. Meanwhile UEFA has given hosting rights of its championship recently to Austria, Switzerland, and Poland.
Of course my theory is shot to hell because the 2014 tournament is being held in Brazil.
A quick survey shows that in the 19 FIFA World Cups, the hosts have won five times: Uruguay in 1930, Italy in 1934, West Germany in 1974, Argentina in 1978, and France in 1998. Meanwhile in the 14 European Championships, the hosts have won three times: Spain in 1964, Italy in 1968, and France in 1984.
And just for fun, and because it is more similar to cricket in that there are only handful of nations where the sport is popular, a look at rugby: in the seven World Cups, the hosts have won three of them (New Zealand in 1987, South Africa and Matt Damon in 1995, and New Zealand in 2011).
Just based on percentages, Rugby is the sport that should have a serious think about having its tournaments in neutral locations.
To sum up:
In the 50 over cricket world cup, the host nation has won 20% of the time.
20 over cricket world cup: 0%
FIFA World Cup: 26%
UEFA Championships: 21%
Rugby World Cup: 43%
All of that said: I will be cheering for the West Indies tomorrow, and Sri Lanka on Sunday.