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There are four cricket World Cups: the Cricket World Cup itself, the new Twenty20 World Cup, the Under-19 World Cup and the Women’s Cricket World Cup.

The Cricket World Cup is a competition between the main cricket playing nations and consists of a series of one-day or limited overs matches. The event is played every four years and is governed by the International Cricket Council (ICC). It is the third most popular sporting tournament in the world after soccer’s World Cup and the Olympic Games, attracting more than 2.2 billion television viewers in over 200 countries.

Cricket was traditionally a game played over several days where each team had two innings. One-day cricket started in England in 1962. Before that, major matches, including international matches, were played over 3-5 days. The first international one-day match was held between Australia and England in 1971. This form of the game grew quickly in popularity and in 1975 the first Cricket World Cup was held in England, a competition that would have been impractical with Test matches due to their long duration (five days). The first three tournaments were held in England as it had the facilities to host a large event of this nature, and were called the Prudential Cup after its sponsors. The matches were 60 overs of six deliveries each per side, 10 more than the usual number of overs per side in a limited overs match.

The first cup in 1975 was played between England, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka, and an East Africa team as South Africa was banned from international cricket at that time due to apartheid. The West Indies, who had a very strong team of fast bowlers and flamboyant batsmen, won the tournament against Australia in the final. The second World Cup four years later included a Canadian team and was won by West Indies again, beating England. Zimbabwe qualified for the third World Cup, in 1983, which was won by India, from West Indies in the final.

In 1987, the World Cup was held in India and Pakistan. Games were reduced to 50 overs a side, mainly due to shorter daylight hours on the subcontinent compared with England. Australia beat England in the final. The 1992 World Cup was hosted by Australia and New Zealand, with South Africa competing for the first time. Colored clothing, white balls, and day-night games were introduced in this cup, although all these innovations had been adopted in other limited overs competitions for quite some time. Pakistan was the winner over England. The 1996 tournament returned to the Indian subcontinent, and Sri Lanka beat Australia in the final.

A strong Australian team won the Cricket World Cup in 1999, 2003 and 2007. The 1999 championship was held in England, where Australia proceeded to the final thanks to a run out in a semifinal, with a South African batsman left short when going for the winning run in that match. In 2003, the tournament was held in Africa where Kenya reached the semifinals. The 2007 World Cup took place in the West Indies, with Bangladesh and Ireland doing better than expected. Australia’s victory in the final was its third cup in a row and extended its unbeaten run of World Cup matches to 29. India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh hosted the 2011 event won by India over Sri Lanka. In 2015, Australia and New Zealand hosted the cup, with Australia beating New Zealand in the final attended by 93,000 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. England will hold the tournament in 2019 and India in 2023.

Nations that play Test cricket and one-day internationals automatically qualify for the World Cup. This includes England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Other countries have the chance to enter the main tournament through several qualifying tournaments such as the ICC Trophy. Six of the minor cricket playing nations can enter the World Cup draw from these tournaments. Currently, 91 countries are eligible to play World Cup.

Initially, the format for the first Cricket World Cup involved eight teams divided into two groups. A round-robin stage was played within each group, with the leading teams in each group making it to the semifinals and the two winners playing in the final. A number of changes have been made over the years as more and more countries vie to be World Cup champion. In 2011 and 2015, there were 14 teams divided into two groups and each team played the other six teams in its group. The top four of each group advanced to the quarter-finals.

The other cricket world cups are the Twenty20 World Cup, the Women’s Cricket World Cup and the Under-19 World Cup.

The newest cricket world cup is the ICC World Twenty20 or Twenty20 World Cup. This is a 20 overs a side match instead of the 50 overs in the Cricket World Cup. This form of cricket has only been played since 2003 and the first world cup was held in 2007 in South Africa. India won the tournament, beating Pakistan in the final. The second Twenty20 World Cup was hosted by England in 2009, with Pakistan winning the final over Sri Lanka. In 2010, the event was held in the West Indies, where England beat Australia in the final. The next tournament was in Sri Lanka in 2012, and the West Indies beat the hosts to win the cup. The latest in 2014 was in Bangladesh, with Sri Lanka beating India. The next Twenty20 World Cup will he held in India in 2016.

Whether the ICC World Twenty20 tournament becomes even more popular than the four-yearly Cricket World Cup remains to be seen. It has certainly attracted a strong following in its short history. Twenty20 is a popular format in all cricket playing nations, especially in India with its Indian Premier League.

There is also a women’s competition in the Twenty20 World Cup, first held in 2009. The event is played in the same country as the men’s cup. England won the first cup over New Zealand. Australia won the next three tournaments, over New Zealand and twice against England.

The Women’s Cricket World Cup is a 50 overs a side competition similar to the men’s cup. The first event was held in 1973 in England, two years before the men’s first world cup. There have been ten women’s cups, with Australia winning six of them, England three and New Zealand one. The event is now held every four years with the most recent one being in 2013.

The first ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup was hosted by Australia in 1988 as part of the country’s bicentennial celebrations. It was next held in 1998 in South Africa and has been contested two-yearly since then. Australia and India have each won the tournament three times, Pakistan twice, and England and South Africa once each. Players who competed in the under 19 world cup and who have gone on to star for their country at the senior level include Nasser Hussein and Mike Atherton (England), Cameron White (Australia), Venkatapathy Raju (India), Chris Cairns (New Zealand), Mushtaq Ahmed and Inzaman-ul-Haq (Pakistan), Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka) and Brian Lara and Jimmy Adams (West Indies).