The International Cricket Council (ICC) has, as expected, decided to finally scrap the 50 overs Champions Trophy at the end of their five-day conclave in Kolkata. The nod from India, who had earlier opposed replacing it with a World T20, made the job easier for the world governing body of the game — who are too well known for its flip-flops.
Personally speaking, I liked the tight, no-nonsense format of the Champions Trophy but I think it has now outlived its purpose. The event, conceived by the then ICC strongman Jagmohan Dalmiya in late ‘90s, was built to cash in on the then boom time of the 50-over format following the unprecedented commercial success of the ’96 World Cup hosted by the Indian subcontinent.
The first edition was held in ’98 in Bangladesh (then called ICC International Trophy), and the idea was to host it every two years with a certain percentage of the profit margin going for development of the associate members. This was the pre-T20 era, and it all made perfect ‘business sense’ with an eye on the TV revenues.
However, the cricketing landscape has completely changed over the last decade — first with the ICC introducing the World T20 in 2007 and then came the Indian Premier League the very next year. The short and sweet format, which cocked a snook at the purists of the game, seemed a perfect fit in the world of instant gratification — and cricket organisers around the world were quick to develop clones of the hugely successful IPL.
Flushed by the success of the World T20, the ICC ended up hosting two more back-to-back editions in 2009-10 and were left struggling on how to balance the all three formats. They had, incidentally, announced the scrapping of Champions Trophy once earlier but decided to pursue with it in 2017 as the ICC’s plan for the proposed World Test Championship fell though.
The World T20, which the ICC admits is now their ‘way of growing the game by having it twice in every four years instead of once,’ will see more associate members taking part — an opportunity which will also financially benefit the likes of Afghanistan and Ireland.
The onus will now be on ICC to ensure that the 50-overs format is also in good health, and to that end, their plans for a global 50-overs league looks an interesting one.
A. K. Satish
Senior Pages Editor
The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to scrap the Champions Trophy defies logic. It is a short and sweet tournament and finishes in a jiffy without really taxing the players. The reason being given to bring an end to it is that Champions Trophy is similar to the 50-over World Cup, hence two events are not required. So this 50-over event is likely to give way to World Twenty20. If it is a repeat, the same argument holds good against the World Twenty20, which will be held every two years.
With ICC also pushing for Twenty20’s inclusion in Olympics, there will be a surfeit of Twenty20 events in addition to the numerous Twenty20 leagues around the world.
The overdose of Twenty20 matches will send wrong signals to the aspiring youngsters, who would want to emulate their favourite players and aim to develop into a player suited for the shortest format and not as complete player suited for all versions.
If the world cricket governing body wanted to dispense with the Champions Trophy then they could have altered the format of the event to bring more associate nations, which could have given the minnows the chance to prove their mettle against the big boys of world cricket.
Which is not the case now. A 50-over event is swapped with a Twenty20 and in the process altering the balance of the multiple formats that co-exist in world cricket.
As such the World Cup 2019 is pruned down to 10 teams and robs these minnows of the much-needed opportunity.
It’s through the success of the 50-over format that teams like Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and the latest recruits Afghanistan an Ireland got the Test status. So the gradual progression to Tests, the pinnacle of cricket, is through the One Day Internationals.
Now with one event less it reduces the opportunity.
No doubt the success of players like Rashid Khan and co in the shortest format makes them the brand ambassadors of the game in boosting the popularity in associate nations, but quality should not be compromised and each format should be given its due.