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.

Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game