|ICC's scheduling woes. And its foes.|
|by Gulu Ezekiel|
|Apr 29, 2006|
Judging by the cover-up job clumsily attempted at the
formal launch in New Delhi on Thursday, the ICC has a
white elephant on its hands. In two words, Champions
The tournament was launched in Dhaka in 1998 under the
name of the ICC Knock-out. From the very beginning,
there have been rumblings in the world cricket
fraternity that the whole exercise ostensibly staged
to collect funds for developing cricket among the
ICCs Associate and Affiliate Members was essentially
a waste of time.
It has since failed to catch the fancy of cricket
lovers and reached a nadir in England the last time it
was staged in 2004. Bad scheduling, poorly contested
games -- Australia v. the United States was the biggest
farce-- miserable weather and a lukewarm response from
the fans doomed it to failure.
It was only the West Indies remarkable last-gasp win in the final against
England that saved it from total obscurity.
Now the format has been altered to avoid lop-sided
games but the event still drags on for far too long. A
total of 21 matches will be staged at four venues in
29 days, but surprise, surprise, there is no automatic
entry for the title holders!
The once-mighty West Indians will have to fight it out
in a preliminary contest with Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and
Bangladesh with the top two joining the other six in
the tournament proper. There is thus no guarantee that
the twice-World Cup winners will make the grade.
The other big shock is the total absence of Kenya from
these 10 nations. Remember, they had made it to the
semifinals of the last World Cup in South Africa. Now
it is as if they have disappeared off the face of the
world cricket map.
There has been plenty of friction between the current
set of office-bearers who took charge of the BCCI late
last year and the ICCs top brass.
One would have hardly have guessed that at the launch
however as both ICC president Ehsan Mani and BCCI
president Sharad Pawar put up a untied front, sweeping
all differences neatly under the carpet.
It was perhaps just as well that dirty linen was not
being washed in public. Then again, the spin that was
being put on these contentious issues was clearly an
attempt to just paper over the cracks. They will no
doubt re-surface sooner or later.
In fact just when the questions from the media began
to become uncomfortable for the two head-honchos on
stage, Pawar saw to it that the interaction was
brought to an abrupt halt.
Most of the misgivings against the Champions Trophy
had emanated from Lalit Modi, the BCCI vice-president. Modi
felt the tournament was a disruption to the Indian
team's international scheduling and would also result in a financial loss. Perhaps that is why Jaipur, Modi's
personal fiefdom has been granted the maximum of six
Some of these misgivings no doubt stems from the fact
that the original concept was that of Jagmohan Dalmiya
when he was heading the ICC. Anything associated with
Dalmiya is anathema to the current BCCI regime.
Still, the litany of complaints from players around
the world attacking the timing of the contest means it
has run into road-bumps six months before the start.
Coming on the eve of the Ashes series in Australia and
less than six months before the World Cup in the West
Indies, this could well be the last Champions Trophy
to be staged, the protestations of Mr. Mani