International Twenty20 Calendar to Expand

By Community | March 7, 2012

International Cricket  teams may soon play up to 15 Twenty20 games in the year preceding a World Twenty20 – which is set to expand to a 16-team event.

World champions England play just seven matches this year before they defend their title in Sri Lanka in September.

They have already won a three-match series against Pakistan, and next summer face a one-off clash with West Indies and three against South Africa shortly before they set off for Colombo.

But after a two-day meeting of the International Cricket Council’s chief executives’ committee in Dubai, a recommendation is to be made to the full board that an increase in fixtures is permitted in any year when an ICC World Twenty20 is scheduled.

The CEC discussed the future of Twenty20 international cricket among several topics, and also concluded that the number of teams participating in the tournament should rise from 12 to 16 starting from the 2014 edition in Bangladesh.

That would increase the opportunities for non-Test-playing countries such as Ireland and Scotland.

Twenty20 will also be at the forefront of the ICC’s intention to find out whether cricket has a place in multi-sport global events such as the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

An ICC press release read: “The CEC decided to further explore an invitation for cricket to take part in the Commonwealth Games to be held on the Gold Coast in Australia in April 2018.

“The CEC also supported the key initiative in the ICC strategy to independently evaluate the pros and cons of participating in the Olympic Games.”

In the much shorter term, the ICC may be prepared to ditch established protocol in an attempt to help Bangladesh’s proposed tour of Pakistan to go ahead next month.

No visiting ICC opposition has set foot in Pakistan since the fatal attacks led on officials and the touring Sri Lanka team being transported to the abandoned Lahore Test of March 2009.

Bangladesh are still considering becoming the first to do so, but it seems the chances of ICC clearing their own neutral umpires and match referees to attend are much more remote.

The ICC release added: “The CEC recognised that the ICC board had determined that a decision as to whether a particular tour should take place or not is one for the participating countries and the ICC’s role was limited to considering the safety and security of the match officials after a tour had been confirmed and a security plan produced.

“The CEC also noted that in the event of the participating countries deciding that the tour should proceed and the ICC determining that it was unsafe to appoint match officials to the tour, a special dispensation to depart from the standard playing conditions to allow non-neutral match officials to participate in the matches would be required from the ICC Board.

“While acknowledging that the granting of such dispensation must involve a wide range of important considerations, the CEC agreed to recommend to the ICC board that, from a cricket perspective only, the granting of the special dispensation would be justified.”

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: “Bearing in mind that safety and security is the sole responsibility of individual member boards for bilateral matches, the CEC regarded this as an exceptional circumstance in which the appointment to matches of non-neutral match officials could be justified but stated clearly that it should not to be regarded as a preferred option or precedent if the dispensation were to be granted.”

by Ismail Uddin