A couple of weeks ago, I was sharpening my literary sword, in order to deliver a piercing swipe to the heart of the ICC Champions Trophy. I just didn’t get it. The cricket calendar is too congested and quite frankly I didn’t see the point in a tournament that plays second fiddle to the World Cup.
The last week, however, has opened my eyes. I guess you could say that I had an epiphany. The merits of the Champions Trophy are so clear to me now that I feel like a fool. It’s exciting, competitive, and concise. In other words, it’s everything that the Word Cup isn’t.
It seems as though these days, when one discusses cricket, the conversation rapidly heads towards the longevity of the game’s varying formats. While the debate can be tiresome and repetitive, the cricket schedule, as I have already stated, is overcrowded. Consequently, I strongly believe that sooner or later, we will be losing something.
What will we lose? I really don’t know, but I am proposing that we ditch the World Cup. The quadrennial showcase musters up excitement in all of us just before the first ball is bowled. Excitement, nevertheless, before too long departs to make way for boredom. The six-week extravaganza drags on and on and the problem is only compounded by the fact that many of the matches are not competitive.
The Champions Trophy, on the other hand, is done and dusted in less than two weeks. Furthermore, with the exception a couple of matches, the majority of games had something riding on them.
The problem with the Champions Trophy is that fans, like me, just don’t get it. It’s not really a surprise since we all know that the World Cup is the top ODI prize, so the Champions Trophy lacks prestige, thus it struggles to draw in the crowds. Besides South Africa’s matches and the India-Pakistan encounter, the crowds during the 2009 Champions Trophy were scarce. If, however, we lose the World Cup from the calendar, then the Champions Trophy becomes the premiere ODI competition.
Losing the World Cup would hurt the smaller nations, such as Ireland and Kenya, but I think that the World Twenty20 should be expanded from 12 teams to 14. Twenty20 is a shorter format, thus making an upset a greater possibility. Don’t get me wrong, shock results do happen at the World Cup, but they are much more likely to happen over a shorter format.
With a World Twenty20 tournament taking place next year, the competition will be switching to take place biennially during even years, whereas the Champions Trophy is staged in odd years. This way the two tournaments complement each other nicely, without force-feeding fans with just one format.
In 2011, the ICC expects us to get worked up about a World Cup, then the Champions Trophy later in the year. To put it simply, it’s just not going to happen. By the time the World Cup reaches the Super Sixes stage you will be wondering when this debacle will end, then a few months later you will be wondering why the Champions Trophy even exists.
What I am suggesting may be seen as radical and I am aware that it will never come to fruition. After all, the World Cup is big business. It was just nice to witness a thoroughly entertaining ODI tournament and what difference does it make if it’s the World Cup or the Champions Trophy, Australia win no matter what it’s called.