Twenty20 vision threatens to blind Champions Trophy

Thrilling contests will be the order of the day at the Champions Trophy, especially following a raging debate over the future of one-day cricket.

updated: September 19, 2009 17:16 IST
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New Delhi:

Thrilling contests will be the order of the day at the Champions Trophy, especially following a raging debate over the future of one-day cricket.

The 11-year-old tournament may have witnessed many nail-biting matches, but is still competing with the 50-over World Cup and Twenty20 World Championships for popularity and glamour.

Wisden described the 2006 edition -- held just five months before the World Cup -- as "the unwanted stepchild of international cricket", while Matthew Hayden recently suggested the tournament be scrapped.

"Playing the World Twenty20 every other year is too much. And why have the Champions Trophy when you've already got a 50-over World Cup?" former Australian batsman Hayden wrote in a newspaper column.

The biennial tournament, a brainchild of former International Cricket Council (ICC) chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, has already had more than its fair share of criticism since it was launched in 1998 in Dhaka.

The event was known as ICC Knock-Out at Dhaka and at Nairobi two years later, but its format left a lot to be desired as just one bad match sent the favourites home, like Australia.

It was renamed the Champions Trophy and played on league-cum-knock-out basis, but the presence of weak sides robbed it of competitive flavour in the next two editions.

The Champions Trophy is more competitive now as only the top eight teams vie for the title, but the rise of Twenty20 has put the 50-over format under pressure.

Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar and former Australian international Dean Jones suggested the 50-over format be revamped, while former captains Kapil Dev of India and Pakistan's Imran Khan were against it.

Tendulkar said the 50-over matches should be split into two innings of 25 overs each so that both the teams enjoy the same conditions.

"Today, we can tell the result of close to 75 per cent of matches after the toss. We know how the conditions will affect the two teams. But it (splitting the game) is not too dependent on the toss," said Tendulkar.

"For example, if it's a day-night match, then both the teams will have to bat under lights. The conditions change very dramatically, but this would ensure that it's the same for everyone."

Imran said the 50-over format should not be tinkered with.

"Every format of the sport has its own utility and charm and it is better not to try to change these formats," said Imran, who led Pakistan to their lone World Cup victory in 1992.

"I don't think the growing popularity of Twenty20 cricket poses any threat to Test or 50-over matches if the international calendar is balanced properly."

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last month decided to cancel its domestic 50-over competition from next season, a move slammed by the country's captain, Andrew Strauss.

"Forty-over cricket (as planned by the ECB) is not radically different from 50-over cricket," said Strauss.

"It just seems sensible to me that if you are playing 50-over cricket internationally and your domestic scene is a way of preparing people for international cricket, you should be playing the same game."