The NewsFuror

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Speed reins in hype over Twenty20

The reception by the public, the media and the players has exceeded our expectations

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed on the World Twenty20

The meteoric success of the first World Twenty20 will not lead to fewer 50-overs-a-side matches, insists the International Cricket Council.

There have been calls to drop the Champions Trophy event following the successful debut of the shorter format and India's eventual victory.

But ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed told: "We are committed to the Champions Trophy in 2008 and 2010.

"We have a problem of fitting Twenty20 into the international calendar."

There will be another ICC World Twenty20 in England in 2009.

But Speed claimed 50-over internationals - such as the four-yearly World Cup, the Champions Trophy and most limited-overs series between member nations - would not diminish in importance.

He said: "Everyone is very pleased with the success of the [Twenty20] tournament.

"We thought it would be well received in South Africa, and the reception by the public, the media and the players has exceeded our expectations.

"I don't agree with much of the criticism about the last two World Cups, although some of it is valid.

"But in any event we're very pleased that we've had a very successful event."

The World Cup in the Caribbean earlier in 2007 was criticised for having draconian regulations for spectators and half-empty grounds due to high ticket prices.

At the World Twenty20, tickets were cheap, grounds were full, and the fans were allowed to bring in huge flags - which created a spectacular atmosphere for the final between India and Pakistan.

"There were an amazing number of flags," said Speed.

"We try to learn from previous events; the fans seem to want to bring their flags in, and express their patriotism for their country so it was great to see that."

He acknowledged that the ICC faced a challenge to fit a third format of the game into a calendar already packed with Tests and 50-over internationals.

But he confirmed that the next World Cup would be much shorter, down to five weeks from seven.

In addition, the 2008 Champions Trophy would be completed in just over two weeks.

"We are committed to the Champions Trophy," Speed insisted.

"It will be an eight-team event, with two groups of four - a short, sharp tournament with the best teams playing in Pakistan next year in September. I think that will be a great event.

"It's a terrific problem to have, now we have three forms of the game.

"As cricket administrators we are very committed to Test cricket, the primary form of the game - it's important we preserve and maintain that.

Olympic sport?

"Fifty-over one-day cricket has proved to be very popular - we have just seen in England a seven-match series with sell-outs in every venue.

"So far the policy is that we have limited the number of international Twenty20 matches each team can play - three home matches and four away matches in a year.

2008: Champions Trophy, Pakistan (50 overs per side)
2009: World Twenty20, England
2010 : Champions Trophy, West Indies
2011: World Cup, South Asia
2012-14: Two Champions Trophy and one Twenty20, or vice versa

"We'll review that but at this stage we are very comfortable with that formula."

Speed did concede that if cricket ever became an Olympic sport, Twenty20 would be the best format.

But his view that the Champions Trophy will continue, albeit in a shortened format, may well still disappoint many observers of the game.

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said on Monday: "I don't see how they can seriously consider running three global tournaments in a four-year cycle.

"Something has to go and hopefully the Champions Trophy will get cut."

But the ICC was roundly applauded for its handling of the World Twenty20.

The Independent's cricket correspondent, Stephen Brenkley, said on Test Match Special: "I would go so far as to say it's world cricket reborn, and most importantly the players have embraced it as well."

Burmese protesters defy warning

Tens of thousands of monks and civilians in Burma's main city Rangoon have defied military warnings and staged new anti-government protests.

Some chanted "we want dialogue". Others simply shouted "democracy, democracy".

Earlier, lorries with loudspeakers warned residents that the protests could be "dispersed by military force".

After the march finished, eyewitnesses told two news agencies they had seen several military trucks moving on Rangoon's streets.


1. Shwedagon Pagoda. Tens of thousands of protesters, led by monks, gathered here at start of march

2. Sule Pagoda. Students joined the protest, passing nearby city hall

Reuters reported that eight trucks carrying armed riot police and 11 carrying troops had moved into the city centre.

The security forces stayed in the vehicles while a few hundred people looked on, AFP said.

Tens of thousands of monks and supporters had earlier marched from Shwedagon pagoda into the commercial centre of Rangoon, where they gathered around Sule pagoda and nearby city hall, witnesses told AFP.

Protesters addressed the crowd outside city hall.

"National reconciliation is very important for us... The monks are standing up for the people," proclaimed poet Aung Way.

One monk told the Associated Press: "People do not tolerate the military government any longer."

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok says monks - who have been spearheading the protest campaign - have been handing out pictures of Burmese independence hero Aung San, the deceased father of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

They were also carrying flags, including some bearing the image of a fighting peacock used by students during the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, witnesses told Reuters.

Students were also openly marching, says the BBC Burmese Service. In earlier marches they had simply formed a chain and clapped.

15 Aug: Junta doubles fuel prices, sparking protests
5 Sept: Troops injure several monks at a protest in Pakokku
17 Sept: The junta's failure to apologise for the injuries draws fresh protests by monks
18-21 Sept: Daily marches by monks in Burmese cities gradually gather in size
22 Sept: 1,000 monks march to the home of Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon
23 Sept: Up to 20,000 march in Rangoon
24 Sept: New Rangoon march draws at least 50,000 and 24 other towns join in

"Some students are in the middle of exams at this time," one of the students told the BBC. "But they have left their exam rooms and come out onto the streets, joining hands with the public, fighting for the country under the guidance of the monks."

The junta, which violently repressed the 1988 protests killing some 3,000 people, finally broke its silence over the mounting protests late on Monday, saying it was ready to "take action" against the monks.

It repeated the warning on state media, ordering monks not to get involved in politics and accusing them of allowing themselves to be manipulated by the foreign media.

International reaction

At the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Burma's rulers to exercise restraint in the face of the growing protests.

US President George W Bush is to use his speech - due shortly - to announce further sanctions against Burma's ruling military junta, the White House has said.