The future of the Intercontinental Cup
In an interview this week with Canadian newspaper Share, ICC High Performance manager Richard Done revealed that there were no plans in place at present regarding the format and scheduling of the competition during the 2011/12 seasons.
Although Done is a keen supporter of the longer format of the game, the decisions may well be taken out of his hands by the ICC, whose focus now seems to have switched to the almighty dollar, rather than the global development of the game.
Done said: "At this point, there is no decision on how the I-Cup is going to be for the next year. There are obviously some decisions to be made around the ICC in terms of the future context of the game and where everything fits, so we are going to hold off until we have got a little bit more information over the next couple of months.
"The four-day game is important for building skills and there is a place for it. It would be drastic to say there is not going to be a four-day competition."
The 2009-10 final takes place in Dubai in late November, with the finalists yet to be determined. Afghanistan look certain to reach the decider, but just who they will play remains in the balance. With Scotland not travelling to Zimbabwe following UK government advice, the outcome of that tie looks likely to be settled in the committee rooms of Dubai. Ireland have an outside chance of making the decider, but require a full points victory against Zimbabwe in Harare on the game which starts on Monday.
Done feels the focus of the four Associate sides who have qualified for the 2011 World Cup may explain just why they have performed poorly in the competition this time around. "As far as Canada is concerned, obviously they have struggled this year and that probably might have to do with the addition of Zimbabwe which is a quality side. It's however interesting that all four Associate World Cup-bound sides are at the bottom of the table. Whether that's an issue of focus for them and there is more attention to the one-day game than the four-day game, I doubt that's the case.
Done continued; "I think it's a little more experimenting going on with the four teams in terms of trying to check players out and see how they are going. There are some other issues with the volume of cricket as well for those sides. I still think the four-day game is important in terms of developing the skills of the game. When you look at the 20-over game, it is the skilled players who perform better and the same applies in the 50-over game.You need to have good skills in terms of working the ball away in the middle overs, bowling in good areas and taking wickets early. All those things are part of what you try to do in four-day cricket."
It may be premature to write off the future of the Intercontinental Cup, but some observers think that the omens donít look good. The costs of the competition, along with the World Cricket League, have come to the attention of the bean counters, and the whole development programme is coming under close scrutiny.