ICC Trophy: Too many questions and too few heroics - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

ICC Trophy: Too many questions and too few heroics

Sparse crowds, dew, poor pitches - whose fault?

For a sporting event with a global television audience of 1 billion it has always been notoriously easy to get sniffy about the Champions Trophy. Perhaps its most embarrassing occasion - but there have been plenty - was in 2002, when it rained in Colombo.

On both days set aside for the final, one complete innings was possible, with only a little of the second. But under the regulations at the time a new match had to be started on each day. Thus Sri Lanka made 244 for 5 on the first day and 222 for 7 on the second, India replying with 14 for 0 and 38 for 1. And that was that. After three weeks and 14 (and a half) games, everybody packed up to go home not much the wiser.

The Champions Trophy had not fulfilled part of the bargain: there were no champions. Short of retitling it simply The Trophy, what were the International Cricket Council to do?

The 2006 version should at least avoid that fate even as autumn descends on northern India. Barring a late, late monsoon, one of New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa and Australia or India will be crowned ICC Champions Trophy winners next Sunday.

But that will not stop the sniffing. The Champions Trophy, to its critics, seems to embody everything that is wrong with international cricket. The ICC have started to adopt gallows humour, now considering themselves at fault for everything from the code of conduct to world hunger. But there are questions for them and their chief executive, Malcolm Speed.

Why have the crowds been so small?

They were small in Sri Lanka and in England in 2004. People desist from attending neutral games. While this has not done much for India's standing as a cricket-daft nation, it has not helped that matches have coincided with Hindu and Muslim festivals, Diwali and Eid respectively.

Ticket prices have seemed high. They were set by the Board of Control for Cricket in India and approved by the ICC. Packages were offered in Jaipur: buy a ticket for India's game and get slashed prices for other matches.

In the Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka in February, where schools cricket attracts thousands, the ICC made entry free. Matches were still played in empty grounds. But the time of year, down to the Indian board, has not helped.

The truth is that countriesprotect their own bilateral series.

Does anybody watch on television?

It is estimated that the global audience will again exceed 1bn, the majority in the subcontinent. Some 300 people were gathered round a set in a Chandigarh street watching India on Friday. All countries watch their own - and many have come to prefer watching matches on television.

Are the broadcasters happy?

It seems they are. Directors become frustrated at small crowds because a small live crowd can convey a lack of theatre.

But audiences are generally robust. Broadcasters have just begun the bidding for the next eight-year cycle of ICC events, starting after the 2007 World Cup. That involves 19 ICC events in all, one a year involving full- member countries.

What about the format of the Champions Trophy?

Perhaps the next event will involve only the top eight nations, therefore excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. But it will remain a 50-over competition.

The trouble with this is that it leaves the concern of how Bangladesh and Zimbabwe can improve without playing better opposition. On the other hand, a preliminary round-robin here, involving six matches in four cities, produced the outcome everybody predicted.

Is there too much cricket, with the World Cup and Twenty20 both next year?

The members of the ICC agreed to have one ICC event a year. But they also need to generate income themselves with their own bilateral series or triangular tournaments.

The support is generally unswerving until it comes to a nation's turn to stage an event (applying probably to everything but the World Cup). ICC want to get the balance right. They have to generate income for developing countries. The Champions Trophy and the Twenty 20 will go head to head after 2011: depending on popularity, there will be one or the other every two years.

What about the low scores in this event?

Some people like the idea that the bowlers are being given a chance and the batsmen are having to work hard. It's called cricket. But it could be a factor in live crowds, who like manifold boundaries, staying away.

Had it been at a different time of year pitches would have been more conducive to run-scoring but that's nimbyism again.

Are the pitches good enough?

A case of glue, dew and probably Barney Magrew. Late-season pitches have had to be glued together with a special bonding agent for consistency, and a dew-reducer has been introduced to ensure second innings are not farcical.

In Bombay, the ground staff might have suffered from a late monsoon and their inexperience in preparing pitches for international cricket - the gap had been 11 years.

Have matches been selected for random dope-testing?

Two out of six have been picked so far, with two players from either side. New Zealand happened to be involved in both. Testers can never give teams the idea that once tested they are free to do as they wish.

Why are England rubbish?

Not even the ICC can answer that one.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week