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It’s a test to find Champions Trophy’s context

ICC Champions Trophy
There may have been a time that I liked the Champions Trophy. It could have been when it was started in the late 1990s and was ostensibly an idea from the International Cricket Council (ICC) to spread the game to new places.

The first two tournaments took place in Bangladesh – in 1998 they were not yet a Test nation – and then Kenya in 2000. Somewhere around 2007, I may have still liked the Champions Trophy, but only because it was shorter and easier to follow than whatever World Cup format the ICC came up with.

I even liked the Champions Trophy, because it had a better looking trophy than the World Cup and whatever that monstrosity it is that they hand out when you win the World T20.

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The ICC Champions Trophy. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters

But the Champions Trophy doesn’t belong on the cricket calendar anymore. It’s past it’s sell-by date. It’s the ‘not World Cup’ on the cricket schedule.

You have a World Cup to crown the best 50-over team, the World T20 for the best T20 side, but the Champions Trophy is what exactly? The ‘not World Cup’ champions?

This current period should have been filled with the World Test Championship, but a few years back the ICC bottled that idea because India said so. Now we’re sitting with this Champions Trophy, a sort of ‘low budget’ World Cup, that serves what purpose?

In an interview with espncricinfo.com recently, the former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson outlined just why it was important that Test cricket had its own ‘tournament.’

India celebrate winning the ICC Champions Trophy Final after beating England in 2013. File Photo: Jon Super/AP

“There’s been a lot of conversations around providing more context for Test matches, having relegation, having points for your wins, and having a Test championship at the end after two years or something like that. But there’s only been talk,” said Watson.

“There has been nothing put in place and in the end, the players want games with context and, most importantly, the fans want games with context and I don’t understand why the ICC is taking so long to be able to put these things in place.”

“If they don’t be proactive with it, before you know it, for the big Test series, there’s going to be no one coming along to Test cricket,” he added. So, right now, the 50-over format has two tournaments on the schedule – one of which is the World Cup, an event that actually has history and prestige on its side.

In its wisdom, the the ICC is making that tournament smaller the next time it is played by reducing it to just 10 teams, as opposed to the 14 that played in 2015.

The T20 has it’s international jamboree, but Test cricket lurches from one series to the next, devoid of context and with the exception of the Ashes, is played in front of half empty stadiums.

But hey, there’s the Champions Trophy to occupy your TV screens for the next two and half weeks and it’s another chance for the Proteas to scratch their ICC tournament itch, but in the broader context of things it seems quite pointless to me.

@shockerhess

The Star

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