Johannesburg:The next couple of weeks could well be the beginning of end of one-day cricket if India are knocked out early in the Champions Trophy, an event that has been called irrelevant by many current and former cricketers.
If Champions Trophy isn't going to be in its final edition, a few things would certainly be of help.
For one, India winning the trophy and finishing on top of one-day cricket rankings would be a boost even if it means the barren run of South Africa without an ICC trophy is stretched to another year.
Too much rides on India's good show for advertisers and television companies to stay interested and it isn't funny.
If India were to depart early, it would hurt Champions Trophy, and one-day cricket, very badly. As it is, there are no takers for this format of the game now. The advertisers haven't shown up. Those who have, would slink away if the game's powerhouse is shown the door early.
A young talent turning the Champions Trophy his playground like Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj a Singh did in 2000 in Nairobi, Kenya would be the stuff of the legend.
Heart-breaks too have their place like the Allan Donald run out in the semi-finals of the 1999 World Cup. Memories too, like Pakistan, against all odds, going on to win the 1992 World Cup. Or Sachin Tendulkar whipping a Desert Storm in Sharjah.
A constant criticism of one-day cricket is the yawn of middle overs when fields are deep set, part-time bowlers are in operation and batsmen are looking to consolidate without quite throwing their bats around with gay abandon. In all a predictability which is the bane of a thrilling contest.
Hopefully, the livelier pitches of South Africa would make defensive play just that wee bit difficult and batsmen would perish if they are only intent in keeping their bats close to the body.
All those favouring this format and talking longingly would matter little if the crowd doesn't show up.
That would be the surest sign for advertisers to pull out. Without the heady mix of crowds and sponsors, the format would be on dialysis.
Champions Trophy is nothing but a dress rehearsal for World Cup. There is nothing unique about the event. At best, it allows game's administrators to rake in serious money from its sponsors.
The main stakeholders of the ICC, the major nations have clearly indicated the lack of priority they reserve for this tournament. Australia and England for instance have arrived only on the day when the tournament actually starts.
A two-week tournament is already being considered a drag while people can't help raving about the two-month long Indian Premier League (IPL). That's the surest sign of how much this format is battling for life.