Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Well done (but did you have to be so sloppy?)

Congratulations to the lads on winning the Compaq Cup, though I'd have to say that that defense of 319 was amongst the poorest I've seen in a while: wayward bowling, lackluster fielding, and butter-fingered catching being prominently on display. Something like that when 319 runs are not up on the board is a sure-fire recipe for disaster when the Champions Trophy begins. (Yes, I know the inevitable defense, "they won't be so sloppy when they don't have 319 runs on board," but honestly, does anyone believe that?).

The Champions Trophy, though its ridiculed in various quarters, is useful in one regard: it serves as a template for what I think should be the world championship in one-day cricket. It is short, it is compact, and it takes place every two years (if I'm not mistaken). I think we should do away with the four-year world cup, rename the Champions trophy, and be done with it. That way, we'd have a limited overs championship ever year in one format or the other, and everyone would be happy. And that way, we might be able to get rid of many one-day internationals, and make the ones that are played much more meaningful.

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7:39 PM  
Blogger Suhas said...

(Almost turned this comment into a blog post!)
Interesting suggestion, Samir. I wonder what the ICC's long-term vision is, in the matter of associate members. One of the objectives of the World Cup is to provide these nations a springboard to greater things, and it was somewhat successful in the cases of Zimbabwe, Kenya and Bangladesh; but all this also made the recent editions of the WC unwatchable at times.

If the condensed nature of the Champions Trophy is a pointer to the future of the World Cup, should the championship be contested among the top 8 or 10 nations only?

Perhaps T20 will eventually be the only entry point for affiliates, but there is a huge chasm between that format and the other two, so I don't know if that will help their credibility much. Given the way the ICC has let things drift in Zimbabwe and Kenya, maybe the shouldn't bother.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...


The Associate Members issue is tricky. Providing them a springboard is all very fine but if it happens at the cost of devaluing the game's premiere event, then it can be counterproductive. I don't mind the Champions/WC being just the top eight teams with qualifying on the basis of points earned in the regular season.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Russ said...

Samir, I don't understand this widespread obsession with annual tournaments. Yes, an annual tour invests every year with meaning, but you have to dispense with tours entirely to make it work properly, and that is not easy (not least because cricket is played 6 months a year in most countries).

Football very successfully holds a world cup every four years, but it is not the month long tournament that makes it great (that has just as many mismatches, and just as few potential champions as the cricket version), but the year and half of qualifiers to reach the finals. It is also a format that serves minnows better, because they get lots of games against good and bad opposition, even if they never reach the finals.

Regardless of the format of ODIs (T20 or F50) I'd like to see a six team finals series, every two or four years. With the best two from the Southern Hemisphere and an Asian region and the best from the Northern Hemisphere, plus the best of a three team qualifying tournament between the next best team from each region. The World Cup would therefore be 6 teams, 15 games against one another and a final, over 3 weeks. Which sounds right to me.

In the intervening years, you get lots of intriguing and meaningful games at a regional level that build on existing rivalries and help develop the game's boundaries.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Russ: Thanks for your comment (welcome to the blog). We are in agreement actually. I think the only way to make a tournament like the WC or the CT meaningful is to make the qualifying for it a challenge. This was the basis of the successful hockey Champions Trophy as well. Also, I'm not calling for an annual CT, but rather one held every two years. There would be a T20 WC every two years as well, hopefully, with the two alternating. I don't think that would kill off tours.

The qualification (by virtue of bilateral games or triangular tourneys) would make regular games meaningful (and if they contributed to a seeding, even better!).

6:53 AM  
Blogger Russ said...

thanks Samir. I'm not a fan of seeding teams. Not in draws smaller than 16 anyway, and even then, only the top side in each group. The game benefits from groups of death, and it has little bearing on the later stages of a tournament. But in any case, with 6 teams they could all play each other, so seeding is unnecessary.

On qualifying. More is better, I think. Though you wouldn't want or expect the test teams to play off against affiliate sides, unless one of the shortened formats was dispensed with, I'd prefer to have a four year cycle and a proper regional championship, with at least six sides playing over the course of a summer.

You can do similar things with 2x 3 team groups and 3 test series to create a test championship too, played over a year. But I will spare you the details.

6:41 PM  
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12:37 AM  

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