Champions Trophy future up in air

India's Virat Kohli looks dejected as he walks past the ICC Champions Trophy after his country lost in the final to Pakistan on June 18.
India's Virat Kohli looks dejected as he walks past the ICC Champions Trophy after his country lost in the final to Pakistan on June 18.PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI • Hundreds of fans gave Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed a hero's welcome as he arrived home carrying the Champions Trophy early yesterday.

Men, women and children packed Karachi airport as he returned from England, where Pakistan thrashed arch-rivals India by 180 runs to be crowned surprise winners. He was showered with bouquets and given a traditional skull cap and an "ajrak" shawl, which is usually presented as a mark of honour.

But, while the cricket-crazy nation celebrated, questions over whether Pakistan would be able to defend their maiden title surfaced.

Some officials believe the eight-team event is too similar to the World Cup which the International Cricket Council (ICC), controversially, has decided should be contested by just 10 teams from the 2019 event in England.

ICC chief executive officer David Richardson even said on Monday that the Champions Trophy could be scrapped in favour of staging the World Twenty20 every two years.

India are due to stage the next Champions Trophy in 2021 but Richardson warned it was by no means certain the event would go ahead.

"What we want to do is differentiate our global events from each other so that they can be standalone and create maximum interest every time the event happens," the former South Africa wicket-keeper told reporters via telephone on the eve of the ICC's annual conference in London.

"At this stage, the next Champions Trophy is still scheduled for India in 2021. Whether that gets changed, the consideration has been given to changing to two T20s in a four-year cycle which would mean swapping the Champions Trophy for a World T20.

"The fact is that World T20s do attract a lot of interest, they generate significant revenue for the television companies, but most importantly from our point of view, they provide us with an opportunity to give more opportunities to more teams.

"A 16-team World T20 - even a 20-team World T20 - down the line is something that we would like to look at.

"With a 10-team World Cup, we're hoping to increase the competitiveness of matches and the standard of the tournament. It might not be necessary to continue with two 50-over tournaments going forward."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'Champions Trophy future up in air'. Print Edition | Subscribe