After calling the introduction of Twenty20 cricket in South Africa a runaway success, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is seriously intent on making the event equally popular at the world level.
In an attempt to do so, an ICC Twenty20 World Championship has planned to be played in South Africa in September next year, involving 12 teams and spanning over nine days.
‘‘It is the kind of cricket that people can come to watch after a hard day’s work. Wives and mothers can come and spend an enjoyable evening watching some exciting cricket. Youngsters can join in after their study hours and so on,’’ explained ICC president Ehsan Mani in Dubai, on Saturday.
All the ten Test playing nations have already confirmed their participation in the 2007 event and the ICC believes that the world is ready to embrace this form of the game as much as it has already been in South Africa and Australia.
However, the ICC is also contemplating whether it should continue hosting the Champions Trophy every two years or evaluate the success of the upcoming Twenty20 tournament and decide which one works better.
‘‘We will sit and evaluate the success of Twenty20 as well as the Champions Trophy and then take a decision where we could host one event every two years and make the other less repetitive one,’’ Mani said.
The ICC is eagerly looking forward to start marketing the Twenty20 event as a major venture on its part as soon as possible. ‘‘This short and sharp event will provide a global focus on the FTP and will not have any negative impact on the ICC calender,’’ South African cricket board chairman Ray Mali said.
He extended his appreciation for the ICC’s decision to go ahead with the tournament, stating that Twenty20 had captured the imagination of the people back home. Both Mani and Mali believe that Twenty20 wouldn’t, in any way, have an impact at the international level that could be detrimental to the survival of Test cricket.
‘‘In fact, we seriously believe that the surge of Twenty20 could help in channelising various forms of the game according to what fans specifically keep looking for. Likewise, Test cricket will always have the support and viewership it needs to keep growing,’’ said Mani.
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