2021 Champions Trophy to be replaced by World T20

The development of the T20 game at the expense of the 50-over format is becoming increasingly apparent, with the ICC announcing the replacement of the 2021 Champions Trophy with a World T20 tournament. The T20 event will be the second in two years, and clearly highlights the ICC’s preference for the shortest form of the game.

The history of the Champions Trophy

The ICC Champions Trophy first took place in 1998, and has run every 2-4 years since. It has been played in between respective World Cup’s, and over the years has clearly become the second most important tournament in world cricket. Until, of course, the T20 craze began.

Since 2009, the Champions Trophy has been participated in by only the top eight ranked teams in the ICC ODI World Rankings. This is reflective of the esteem in which the tournament is held, with the best teams in the world viewing it as one of the biggest opportunities on the calendar to test themselves against the rest. In recent years, however, many have questioned the relevance of the tournament.

Why the change?

T20 might be the newest form of the game, but it has well and truly taken over ODI as the second biggest format. Indeed, traditionalists aside, many would argue that it is now the biggest form of cricket in the world, and the financial numbers would comfortably support these claims.

Most probably, the reasons for the cancelling of the Champions Trophy are along these lines. The specifics are a little complicated, but according to ESPN Cricinfo, the current financial revenue model would not result in significant revenue for ICC Full Members from a Champions Trophy. In contrast, a World T20 will generate significantly more revenue, pumping more money into the sport.

The reasons aren’t entirely financial though. The ICC is continually trying to expand the game, as evidenced by the recent inclusion of Afghanistan and Ireland as ICC Full Members, and the eight team Champions Trophy format doesn’t exactly reflect this. In contrast, a World T20 will be able to involve 16 teams, and as a result ‘provide more opportunities in the format we are trying to use to expand the game’, per ICC officials.

The move doesn’t necessarily bode well for ODI’s going forward, but it doesn’t spell the death of it either. The World Cup will continue to exist as one of, if not the, most important individual championship in world cricket, and it will be preceded by the ODI League as well. 

Indeed, many would argue the move will be a positive one for 50-over cricket. Too much of a single format can invariably dilute interest in it, and many had previously argued that the Champions Trophy was simply an irrelevant format given the existence of the very similar, and more important, ODI World Cup. This has been evident for a while now; the most recent Champions Trophy, in 2017, was initially scheduled to be replaced by a Test Championship, though this didn’t come to fruition. The removal of the Champions Trophy may well result in greater interest in the World Cup and ODI cricket in general.

So what are the details of the World T20?

The Champions Trophy was initially scheduled to take place in India, and cricket’s biggest nation won’t lose out on anything as a result of this change. The World T20 will still run in India, meaning it change is quite literally just a swapping of tournaments. The dates will stay roughly the same, the country will stay the same. The only change, albeit a fairly major one, is the format of the game. Of course, this means eight other nations will get to join in, and there will inevitably be more games. The World T20 is scheduled to involve 45 games, three times as many as the 15 games which took place at the 2017 Champions Trophy.

Invariably this means more revenue, and probably more excitement. Considering the staleness of the Champions Trophy in recent years, it’s easy to see why the ICC unanimously agreed to get rid of it, and it will probably be a good move for the game in the long term.