World Cup has plenty to learn from Champions Trophy
Australia's Mike Hussey, right, reaches for the crease to avoid being run out as West Indies' Chris Gayle waits the return during the second One Day International cricket match against the West Indies at the National Stadium in St. George's, Friday, June 27, 2008. Australia finished their innings in 213 for five. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton
If you watched any of the cricket World Cup a couple of years ago you may recall that it wasn’t the most enthralling edition of the competition.
There were a handful of contests that stood out such as Ireland and Bangladesh beating England, the latter’s tie with India, Sachin Tendulkar’s masterly century against South Africa, Ricky Ponting’s ton in vain against India and the hosts’ perfectly paced run chase against Sri Lanka, for whom Mahale Jayawardene scored an imperious hundred, in the final.
But, in the main, it was a tournament that was drawn out, tedious in many parts, and had the impression of not knowing what it wanted to be.
A month to discover who the quarter-finalists were going to be was ludicrous, especially when there was only really only one place that was up for grabs.
Considering it is supposed to be the 50-over game’s showpiece event, those charged with the organising habitually make a right meal of it when it should be a fairly straightforward task.
Attempting to incorporate the game’s elite nations and a few of those in the second tier would appear to be akin to a quadratic equation (I never did understand those) that is no nearer to being solved.
So what everyone is left with is a convoluted mess that doesn’t seem to satisfy anybody, in other words, having four courses when three would be more than adequate.
Compare this to the Champions Trophy which gets under way on June 6 when India face South Africa in Cardiff.
Eighteen days of competition, eight countries, two groups of four, three venues, semi-finals and a final.
Short, sharp, of a high quality and exactly what a tournament should be in these days of crammed schedules.
In fact, precisely what a tournament should be whether the schedule is crammed or not.
That it will be the last of its kind is something of a travesty because it could serve as a tool to reinvigorate the 50-over game that, despite its efforts to the contrary, continues to be criticised from pillar to post for the simple reason that, as far as I can see, it isn’t of 20 overs in length.
It is a format which, if not viewed through a cynical eye, can produce fascinating performances and drama but has been forgotten by those in favour of a quick fix and unwilling to persist with that which has provided sterling service for over four decades.
One-day international cricket bridges the gap between 20-over and Tests and should be stuck with for that reason and the forthcoming event can show the world that there is still plenty of life left.
Even after the axe has fallen, there is the World Cup in Australasia in 2015 and it is to be hoped that the organisers take a leaf from what is about to unfold.
There is a strong case to be made for a slightly longer tournament as one lasting a fortnight would seem too brief but there is no need to over extend for the sake of it.
The 1992 edition was the ideal length and set-up with the teams all playing each other and the top four qualifying. No gimmicks, just a simple round-robin competition with two semi-finals and a final.
In a family, the younger sibling often gets overpowered by the elder but quite often it speaks and should be listened to.
Alec Swann is a former Northants and Lancashire opener turned cricket writer. Outside of the joys of a Test match, Newcastle United and golf generally occupy his other sporting interests with a soft spot for the Newcastle Knights.
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