Twenty20 World Championship on the way

Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Cricket is set to have a new global tournament with the creation of a Twenty20 "World Championship."

At a board meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) at the governing body's Dubai headquarters, officials agreed to the creation of an "invitational" Twenty20 World Championship in 2007 with an event in 2009 where "participation will be mandatory", according to an ICC statement.

Explaining the two-stage introduction, the ICC said: "Several members are strongly in favour of including a Twenty20 World Championship in the next round of ICC events while other members are not as enthusiastic."

Pioneered three years ago in the professional game at county level in England, Twenty20 - whose name derives from the fact that a match is made up of just 20 overs per side - has drawn large crowds around the world.

But concerns have been expressed that an expansion of Twenty20 could threaten the standing of the World Cup, cricket's leading One-day international tournament, which is currently staged once every four years and whose next edition is set to take place in the Caribbean in 2007.

Cricket economic powerhous India was known to be particularly sceptical about Twenty20.

But with India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh keen to stage the 50 overs per side World Cup in 2011, a compromise deal has been struck.

The Asian quartet have seen the deadline for submitting a 2011 World Cup bid extended to April 21 - even though Australia and New Zealand have already made a joint bid to stage that event - while England have made it clear they would like to stage the first compulsory Twenty20 World Championship in 2009.

"There was potential for an impasse on these two issues with several of our members holding strong views," said ICC President Ehsan Mani.

"But this approach has allowed us to map out a way forward on these important topics to try and reach consensus. "The programme of ICC events from 2007 to 2015 will now be considered again in April," the Pakistani added.

The Twenty20 event emerged as one of a package of measures put forward for the restructuring of the international programme over the next eight years.

There will be a major event every year, with a shorter eight-nation Champions Trophy - the mini World Cup - set to take place on a biennial basis from 2008.

So keen are England to stage the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship, after seeing crowds lap up the domestic version, they have agreed to withdraw their application to stage the 2015 World Cup.

And that leaves means the ICC to decide between Asia and Australasia for the 2011 and 2015 World Cups.

Meanwhile, the timeframe for the Future Tours Programme (FTP), which governs the Test match calendar, has been extended.

All the ICC's 10 full or Test members (England, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh) will be required to play home and away series against each other within a six-year period, instead of the current five.

"This FTP protects the status of Test cricket, ensures that prestigious historical Test series can continue to be contested over four or five matches and provides certainty of planning for our members," said ICC's Australian chief executive Malcolm Speed.

An aim of the new schedule, which takes effect in May, is to allow money-spinning series between leading nations, such as Australia versus India or India versus Pakistan, to take place more often.

The board also considered India Solicior-General Goolam Vahanvati's report into allegations of racist crowd behaviour in Australia during South Africa's recent tour.

It decided to set up a three-man committee comprising Speed, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland and his South African counterpart Gerald Majola to provide recommendations to the next board meeting in April.

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