ICC sets sights on Twenty20 world cup

The England and Wales Cricket Board will stage its first Twenty20 international next year. After a hugely successful first season in English domestic cricket in 2003, where more than 250,000 spectators streamed into county grounds, Cricket Australia has agreed in principle with the ECB to play a one-off match during next summer's Ashes tour.

The England and Wales Cricket Board will stage its first Twenty20 international next year. After a hugely successful first season in English domestic cricket in 2003, where more than 250,000 spectators streamed into county grounds, Cricket Australia has agreed in principle with the ECB to play a one-off match during next summer's Ashes tour.

A date and venue are yet to be finalised but it is believed that NatWest will be sponsoring the match and and it will form part of the celebrations surrounding their 25th anniversary in cricket. Should the 20-over- per-side match prove to be popular the ECB is sure to push for Twenty20 fixtures to become a regular part of international tours here.

The success of this and other future matches will be watched closely by the International Cricket Council, who may consider running tournaments based on Twenty20. The busy international schedule would make it difficult for the ICC to organise another event involving all Test-playing nations, but there could be a case for a 20-overs competition replacing the Champions Trophy.

The latter, which is due to take place in England in September, is played every four years and, along with the World Cup, allows the ICC to organise a major one-day tournament every two years. The Champions Trophy is viewed as a mini World Cup but if the ICC was to change it from its current 50-overs format it would then stand out on its own.

The short duration of Twenty20 games would allow for more matches during the three weeks which are put aside for the tournament. Currently, teams that enter the Champions Trophy may play as few as two games before they return home.

The success of Twenty20 in England has already encouraged other countries to take it on board. South Africa quickly introduced Twenty20 into their domestic itinerary and the matches drew big crowds.

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