14 June 2024 last updated at 01:04 GMT
ICC admits fixing draws to put Ind & Pak in same group
Wednesday 01 June 2016

The International Cricket Council has admitted that the draws for global tournaments are habitually fixed in order to get India and Pakistan into the same group. The draw for the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, which was revealed at the Oval yesterday, again throws the two countries together, with the reigning champions India beginning their title defence against their historic rivals at Edgbaston on June 4.

It is the fifth tournament in succession where India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet in the group stage. Matches between the two countries regularly attract global television audiences of up to one billion and although it had long been suspected that the ICC was doctoring draws to guarantee fans and broadcasters another iteration of the sport’s most lucrative fixture, this is the first time that the governing body has admitted it publicly.

“No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event,” said ICC chief executive Dave Richardson. “It’s hugely important from an ICC point of view. It’s massive around the world and the fans have come to expect it as well. It’s fantastic for the tournament because it gives it a massive kick.” 

The decision to put India and Pakistan together at all costs – a factor that was also behind the adoption of a 10-team round robin format at the forthcoming 2019 World Cup in England – essentially dictated the rest of the draw before it had been made.

Seedings for the eight-team tournament were decided on the basis of the 50-over world rankings at the end of September 2015. India (seeded No 2) and Pakistan (No 8) thus had to be bracketed with South Africa (No 3) and Sri Lanka (No 5) in order to balance the group. Current Twenty20 world champions West Indies are ranked No 9 in 50-over cricket and, thus, did not qualify.

Richardson denied that this had a negative impact on the integrity or fairness of the tournament. “What we try and do is make sure that when you add up the rankings of the different groups, they all add up to the same number of points. You can do that in a number of ways. So long as the pools are balanced, it’s silly to avoid [the fixture] when you can fairly cater for it.”

Hosts England are in the opposite group and will play Bangladesh at the Oval, New Zealand in Cardiff and Australia at Edgbaston. For Eoin Morgan’s young side, it will be a golden opportunity to claim this country’s first global 50-over trophy. But home advantage and a growing maturity will bring increased expectations for a side whose progress to the final of the World Twenty20 in India earlier this year largely defied pre-tournament predictions.

“I certainly believe there should be an expectation there,” said Morgan. “The sooner we have expectation, the better. The experience of playing the World T20 and getting to the final will put us in an early position where we’re able to deal with that expectation.” 

England will build up to the tournament by playing 30 one-day internationals in the space of 12 months. The first five will take place later this month, against Sri Lanka, and England are likely to field a full-strength side made up largely of the core of their squad from the last year. Though the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad have expressed an interest in returning to the limited-overs team, Morgan made it clear that they would have to earn their place not via their Test records but by performances in domestic 50- and 20-over cricket.

In terms of going in the opposite direction and resurrecting his Test career, Morgan was sanguine. He has only just returned from a successful stint at the Indian Premier League, where he won the title with Sunrisers Hyderabad, and is not scheduled to play a County Championship game until August. “Do I still want to play Test cricket? Absolutely,” he said. “How I’m going to get there, I’m not sure yet. At the moment, I don’t see it happening.”

For Morgan, limited-over games are now his priority. And if he can lead England to victory on home soil next year, then Test cricket or no Test cricket, his legacy will be secure.

Courtesy: Telegraph

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