On the Front Foot: Trophy has been a triumph – so the ICC now want to axe it
The seventh Champions Trophy has been a triumph. It has been well-organised, well-contested, well-attended. It has been short and to the point – people have had fun. This week, at their annual conference in London, the International Cricket Council propose to ditch it.
The organisation's chief executive, Dave Richardson, has been careful in the past fortnight not to dance on its grave. Most often his watchwords have been: "Never say never." In other words he has been around the ICC corridors of power to know that the sands are forever shifting, which is entirely fitting for an organisation with their headquarters in the Dubai desert.
Richardson is a pragmatist, and as chief executive his powers are distinctly limited. But his first pitch at Lord's on Tuesday should be to save the Trophy and let the rest fit in around it. The ICC's schedule is to have one world event each year in a four-year cycle, which is set to involve in future the World Cup as the sole 50-over event, the World Test Championship and the two World Twenty20s. There are several flies in the ointment.
T20 is the peskiest, naturally, and a tournament every two years is one too many. The next is scheduled to be in Bangladesh in March, only 17 months after the previous one. All three World T20s have been excellent, but the trouble is that, between these events, nobody takes it seriously.
There are two matches between England and New Zealand this week, but they will pass the world by. If the ICC must have an event each year, they could stick to the two 50-over events – the Champions Trophy and the interminable World Cup – or move to a three-year cycle of Test Championship, World Cup-cum-Champions Trophy involving only the top-eight teams, and a Twenty20.
There are several options available, but to turn their back on a competition which has been a resounding success would be the height of daftness, even by ICC standards.
Dan the everyman
One man played in the first Champions Trophy and the last. Daniel Vettori of New Zealand was only 19 back in 1998 and did not take a wicket. He took two in this last event, his final victim being Eoin Morgan of England.
Greig finally forgiven
Redemption for one of cricket's most controversial and charismatic characters will be final tomorrow. At St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square, at the instigation of the England and Wales Cricket Board, a memorial service will be held for the former England captain Tony Greig. It is an occasion that is taking place far too soon, for Greig was only 66 when he died last December. But that it is taking place at all shows he has at last been fully forgiven for the part he played in the formation of World Series Cricket when he was captain of England 36 years ago.
WSC was a breakaway cricket tournament, otherwise known as Packer's Circus after the Australian television mogul Kerry Packer, whose brainchild it was. Greig went along with it because he was fed up seeing professional cricketers treated disdainfully and because Packer offered serious money. Uproar ensued, and Greig was excommunicated by the cricketing establishment. He went to live in Australia. But what he did – and he regretted only the secrecy with which he had to conduct the plot – ultimately changed the game for the better.
Tomorrow's occasion recognises that and his greatness.
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