Before I put something more here let me clarify that this is about cricket and not football. The similar names of world tournaments at times create confusion even for search engines.
Well the Champions Trophy (2017 edition is abbreviated as CT2017) is supposed to be a mini-world cup of Cricket where top 8 teams battle out neck-to-neck in a knock out mode to obtain the much coveted trophy. Hence it is supposed to be short full of zeal and zest, exciting providing cricket hungry viewers a top quality tournament. This is also one of the reasons it has survived in spite of growing competition and talks about shelving the same in favor of a bi-annual T20 (20-20 shorter version of cricket) world cup.
However the 2017 edition of CT has been quite damp (pun intended) with weather playing a spoil sport in the first half of the tournament with as many as 2 matches completely washed out. Whilst during other matches rain has played hide and seek bringing convoluted Duckworth and Lewis calculation into the play.
This is something that is used during an inclement weather or conditions causing only a curtailed match. In short it is much about mathematics rather than sport. It takes into account targets against available resources at disposal (wickets, overs, runs etc.) and the team ahead of the curve wins. Although its an improved version of what existed a decade ago, nevertheless it isn’t full proof and at times a bit unfair.
This edition unlikely the Australians (who are in Group B) have been at the receiving end of the same. Although they survived a scare against New Zealand and were happy to share a point, against Bangladesh they had to suffer. This led to one bad match against England at Edgbasten on 10.June-2017 and they were out of the tournament. Whereas Bangladesh (they also played a superb match against New Zealand) enjoyed a super entry into the next phase.
In Group A the situation has not been so different. The much hyped India vs Pakistan match was like a bike running out of fuel with frequent starts and stops due to rain taking the excitement out the match. Although much to wish of billions of viewers India won but many were left without the entertainment the two arch rivals bring to the table (also much could be attributed to the lackluster performance by Pakistan) .
This leaves us is with a question,
“Is this an opportune time to conduct a high profile ICC tournament in England ?”.
May be not ! Lets have look what are the different options then.
- India, Sri-lanka or Bangladesh – Could be a popular choice in terms of generating revenue and making it 18 day festival. However considering Monsoon time it may not be wise decision
- Australia or South Africa – Onset of winter doesn’t bode well for cricket
- Pakistan – Well leave it for the moment – depending on how many teams will travel
- West Indies – Typically ICC tournaments have seen a poor presence of viewers and lack of interest hasn’t gone well with ICC.
That leaves us with the current (forced) choice of England and that is also one of the reasons why England is hosting the same 2nd successive time. Then the question arises although weather is always fickle in England why not organize such a tournament when the weather is at its best. Lets say the months of July, August could have been a much better choice. The long days of summer would have created a much better cricketing atmosphere.
One won’t get a direct answer to this question however a major opinion is much of English summer is reserved for the domestic (County) cricket and bilateral series. They don’t want to compromise into that. And CT is fitted some where between just ticking a mark like one does in her/her goal sheets. Over the years it has given a step child like treatment much to the dismay of cricket lovers.
Having said that why not try some neutral venues then ? That would not only serve good to promote cricket in remote areas (in terms or reach of cricket) but also help to conduct uninterrupted matches. Previously Nairobi, Kualalampur, Dubai etc. have been tried but seems like idea was dumped due to monetary reasons.
May be then why not explore other wealthy regions where we could see more interest?
As an experiment south-west areas in Europe or even Germany and Netherlands (which is been a cricketing nation as well) which have better predictability of weather could be well suited. At least warmups and first round of matches could be conducted here leading up to second round (or knockout stages in England hoping of weather getting bit better). Of course that would be an organizing and logistics nightmare but ICC definitely has muscle and money power to do that. And its not the first time ICC tournament will be held as a multinational tournament. At least it will extend the reach of cricket to the other parts of the world.
The United States of America could be an another option as well. Cricket matches have been held there previously and considering the length and breadth of the country it could be a great marketing proposition.
It may not be the case that, the idea hasn’t hit to the top brass of ICC, but it must viewed beyond just monetary reasons. It should also be about investing in the future of cricket to enable it become a popular sport at world level (beyond just the majority of Common Wealth setup). If ICC hearing this and listening to themselves may be we might see a neutral venue for the next edition (only if it survives).