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World Cup has a bigger job to do

Jaspreet Sahni | | Updated: October 7, 2015, 2:40 PM IST

The return of the ICC Champions Trophy after being dumped following the 2013 edition leaves a significant impression - that the ICC events involving Test-playing nations are the saviours of the one-day format, of which World Cup is the acme.

Quite unequivocally, the survival of 50-over format is in the hands of World Cup or its mini version, the Champions Trophy, after doubts were raised over its relevance once Twenty20 cricket came to life.

Viewers of the game had returned to the days of watching the first 10 and last 10 overs of an ODI after India won the 2007 World Twenty20. An innings of 50 overs spread over three hours started struggling to hold its ground against a three-hour entertainment package T20s offered. And the leftover excitement of an ODI was killed by the incessant frequency with which India and Sri Lanka pleased each other.

Then came a time when a bilateral series of five or seven ODIs came close to be regarded as a futile exercise, with some corridors even resonating with a cry to stop it. But that argument lost steam when, for e.g., a game between England and New Zealand, was played to empty galleries in a tri-series in India, whereas stadiums in a series of five ODIs during, say, Australia's tour of India were packed to capacity for each game.

The mathematics was easily understood by the ICC, that no need to touch bilateral series, keep multi-nation series to a bare minimum and design ICC events in a way that all major cricketing nations reach the business end.

As a result, the 2011 World Cup saw the tournament rules undergoing a change to ensure Test-playing nations don't make early exits due to just one defeat in the first round, which happened with India and Pakistan in 2007 after they were stunned by Bangladesh and Ireland, respectively, to leave the tournament tasteless.

That followed India's success at the 2011 World Cup trophy at home, which breathed new life into the format.

Quite rightly then, at its latest meeting, the ICC pressed the undo button on deleting Champions Trophy from their calendar, re-affirming the fact that an ICC event is critical to the existence of one-day internationals.

And the 2015 World Cup now has a job to vindicate the fact that 2011 re-established.

(This write-up is inspired by noted journalist Vimal Kumar's latest book 'The Cricket Fanatic's Essential Guide')
First Published: February 6, 2015, 5:09 PM IST

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