ICC Champions Trophy: Board debates on 50-Over or 20-Over format

In a recent gathering at the Dubai headquarters of the International Cricket Council (ICC), discussions unfolded regarding the fate of the Champions Trophy. Among the participants were esteemed ICC officials and representatives from various stakeholders, including broadcaster Disney Star.

While some voices within the ICC advocated for ODIs, a conclusive decision was deferred. Instead, deliberations focused on weighing the merits and drawbacks of both the 50-over and 20-over formats. Data presented underscored a notable decline of over 20 per cent in engagement and overall viewership for ODIs since the 2019 World Cup.

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The financial aspect was also in the spotlight, with broadcasters, vital for financing global cricket, poised to gain more from a 100-over game compared to a 40-over match. Yet, not all advertising slots are guaranteed to be filled for ODIs, and the cost of commercial spots is lower for ODI matches than for T20 encounters.

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While broadcasters purportedly earn INR 57-60 for every INR 100 earned per over in a T20 match, ODIs offer a higher volume of advertisements per match, approximately 160 compared to 100 in T20s. This potentially provides greater overall monetization opportunities if all slots are filled.

Support for ODIs stems partly from the success of the previous World Cup, largely attributed to India’s performance, and the forthcoming Champions Trophy in Pakistan, linked to the 2027 World Cup in South Africa.

However, hosting the tournament in Pakistan presents logistical hurdles, given India’s uncertain participation. This scenario may necessitate a hybrid model akin to last year’s Asia Cup, involving travel between Pakistan and the UAE.

The tight schedule for the eight-team Champions Trophy poses challenges, with teams potentially playing two matches in three days while shuttling between the UAE and Pakistan. These logistical challenges render the 100-over format less than ideal.

Moreover, shifting trends indicate a waning interest in ODIs compared to T20s, with Test matches gaining recognition as the purest form of the game. The Champions Trophy was discontinued in 2017 due to declining relevance, with the T20 World Cup emerging as a premier tournament alongside the ODI World Cup.

As the ICC grapples with the format dilemma, engaging stakeholders, particularly broadcasters, who contribute substantially to the sport’s finances, becomes imperative. While ICC officials hint that the format may retain its 50-over structure, the ongoing debate is unlikely to abate soon, keeping the pressure on the ICC to explore all options.