The International Cricket Council on Thursday announced a number of decisions following its five-day conclave in Kolkata.
In a radical step, the committee decided to grant T20I status to all its member countries. The global body also confirmed that the ICC Champions Trophy would be scrapped in favour of the World T20 which will be played every two years from 2021.
The ICC also confirmed that India and Pakistan will not play each other in the inaugural schedule of the Test Championship, set to commence in 2019.
Among other decisions, the ICC has constituted a committee headed by former India captain Anil Kumble to formulate stricter sanctions for players indulging in ball-tampering and sledging.
While, some moves are welcome, others have left a lot to be desired. Here’s TheField’s take on some of the key decisions taken at the conclave:
Holding two World T20s in successive years is a farce
The International Cricket Council at the end of their five-day quarterly conclave in Kolkata has decided that the 2021 Champions Trophy, scheduled to be held in India, will be converted into a World T20 and from there on it is set to be staged every two years.
The development means that there would be two ICC World T20 events in two years –- the 2020 edition in Australia and the 2021 edition in India. This in addition to the 2019 ODI World Cup to be hosted by England.
Fans will now be in a position to witness three World events in as many years.
Does the constant staging of a World event not dilute the importance of a global event?
“Unfortunately that’s just because of the schedule, how it works. There would not have been an option, I suppose, of moving the T20 into 2022,” ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson said.
“But going forward in the future, every two years World T20, every four years the World Cup and don’t forget the ODI League building up to each World Cup,” he added.
The ICC has argued that the Champions Trophy was too similar to the World Cup.
“It was always quite difficult to differentiate. Why you are having a World Cup and then a Champions Trophy? It was difficult,” Richardson said.
Frankly, scrapping of the Champions Trophy seems a logical move. The 2019 World Cup will be a 10-member affair leaving little to differentiate between the two tournaments. Also with the 13-team ODI league set to commence from 2020, it makes sense to make the ODI World Cup a standalone marquee event in the format.
However, in the world of cricket administration, not every decision is taken based on logical interpretations. Reports suggest that the move came about as the global body’s official broadcaster preferred a 16-member World T20 as opposed to an 8-member ICC Champions Trophy. Richardson, though, has denied any “pressure”.
Whatever be the thinking, the staging of back to back World T20s is a farce. The relevance of both tournaments has been left in tatters. Why would any team take it seriously? If the 50-over World Cup and Champions Trophy looked similar, then how different would be the World T20 in 2020 and 2021?
Despite its recent inception, the World T20 has grown into a highly competitive tournament. Since the dramatic inaugural edition in 2007, the World T20 has always piqued interest among fans and players. To reduce it to a farce by holding it in successive years, the ICC has done a disservice to all stakeholders of the sport.
What about Test cricket?
The International Cricket Council on Thursday announced that all its 104 member nations will be granted T20I status.
Richardson confirmed that the development will apply to both men and women’s cricket.
Currently, only the 12 full member countries and Scotland, Netherlands, Hong Kong, UAE, Oman and Nepal are eligible to play T20Is.
When asked to explain why ICC often claims about safeguarding longer formats but then is increasing the number of T20 matches, Richardson calimed that the move was not contradictory to the organisation’s philosophy.
But is it really?
With the number of T20Is increasing, it is quite clear that member countries are likely to devote most of their energies on the shortest format.
A cricketer playing for say, Papa New Guinea, might find his name next to an MS Dhoni or Virat Kohli in the global rankings which will be launched by the ICC.
Players, administrators and fans alike are not going to take any other format seriously if a T20I against another member country is going to put them in the same league as the top cricketing nations of the world.
The longer format will suffer. And players from the member countries would lose the hunger to try and play Tests at some stage in their career.
According to reports, the decision has been made to further ICC’s resolve to make T20 cricket an Olympic sport.
While, that dream might be achieved, the decision might end up restricting Test cricket from growing beyond the dozen countries that currently play it.
No India-Pakistan games in Test championship will leave the tournament poorer
The ICC has also confirmed that the inaugural World Test Championship will be played over a two-year cycle (2019-20) with the final being held in 2021.
The championship, though, will not see India and Pakistan cross swords, unless they both reach the final, which will be played at a neutral venue.
The ICC has agreed to the odd arrangement. Richardson seemed resigned to the fact that both teams cannot play against each other.
“There is a common desire that it will be great if India and Pakistan can play each other, specifically in bilateral series. The issue is quite complicated I am afraid, it is going to take a lot more than just two boards agreeing,” Richardson said.
The ICC, though, is hoping the two countries can play against each other during the second schedule of the Championship.
The Championship will be played by the top nine Test-playing nations. Each team will play a maximum of six series, comprising three Tests each on home-and-away basis against six other nations over a two-year period - about 36 Tests in the course of two years.
A Championship without India and Pakistan facing off against each other is never going to be complete. The two teams usually play each other in ICC events. Considering, this too is an ICC event, the rules of engagement should have remained constant.
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