The mistake the ICC made that they can't reverse
The format of the 2019 is great, but it could have been done better, and the ICC only had to look to the IPL for the solution.
When it comes to fairness, it’s hard to beat the format of the 2019 World Cup. Each team plays each other once and the top 4 out of 10 advance to the finals. Not only is it fair, but there are no ‘easy groups’ or ‘groups of death’ (to borrow a footballing term). All matches are meaningful, and all wins valuable, as they should be.
The ICC did a great job with this. The talk about reserve days because matches are lost to rain can be considered in the future, but by and large are unnecessary. Bad weather will happen, and if you win your matches you will get through to the knock out matches. Nobody is going to go play semi finals undeservingly. You need to turn up and play when it's your time. Looking for excuses because of the weather would only paper over the cracks that those teams didn’t turn up when it was their turn. You can’t be having off days when others are having on days.
However there was one area they ICC got it totally wrong, that being the format of the finals.
The two semi finals are 1st vs 4th and 2nd vs 3rd. The winners advance to the final.
With this format, there is almost no difference in coming first and fourth. The benefits of finishing first are simply if there is an unlikely tie, or if both the match and reserve day gets washed out, you will advance to the final.
This means that your advantage comes down to chance. The chance of it raining. There is no reward set in stone for the most consistent and best team over 5 and a half weeks of cricket. You are simply treated the same as the fourth team, who may have lost 4 more matches than you, but if it rains you will be looked after.
The IPL uses a far better format. They also have a top 4 format but they have a 1 v 2 semifinal and a 3 v 4 semi final. The winner of 1 v 2 goes into the final. The loser plays the winner of 3 v 4. If it rains you also look after the higher ranked team, but this system doesn’t only give rewards to the top teams in the event of rain. It actually rewards consistency and quality. It is a far better system.
Although in this format 1st and 2nd are treated as equals in the first semifinal, the best two teams are rewarded for their consistency over 9 matches. Quite frankly, as they should be.
For 1st and 4th to be treated the same, especially if it’s a warm sunny day, then the reward for playing excellent cricket over 9 matches is far too minimal. The system does not reward the team that should be most rewarded.
The other problem is if the top 4 break away, as they threaten to do, there isn't the need to finish in those top two places as there should be or would have been if the IPL system was used. There is no doubt the top 4 sides will be trying to win and finish as high as they can, but the consequences for losing are not as bad as what it would have been if the other system was in place.
Why the ICC opted for an inferior system is anyone’s guess. It would have meant just one more game being played, and at the business end of the tournament no team will mind that. An extra game means more TV revenue and a fairer format would suit all fans.
However on this occasion the ICC have dropped the ball. The format they went with is not the better of the two options available.