SA praised for T20 spectacle

2007-09-25 10:25

Johannesburg - International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed described the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship, which ended on Monday, as 'a great event'.

He also praised tournament director Steve Elworthy of Cricket South Africa (CSA) for the way in which the tournament had been run.

"South Africa performed all its obligations as a host nation with style and a minimum of fuss," said Speed. "I couldn't be more complimentary."

"The tournament has been a great success, and there has also been some great cricket. This afternoon's final (between India and Pakistan) produced some great cricket, and there have also other great matches. The matches were played in good spirit, but they were also played with great intensity."

Speed said the next T20 tournament would be held in England in 2009, after which a decision would be taken on how many T20 tournaments would be played between 2012 and 2014.

"Given the success of this tournament, I think it is extremely likely that there will be two T20 tournaments and one Champions Trophy in those years."

He said the ICC wanted the main focus on Twenty20 cricket to be at county, provincial and state level, with international teams limiting themselves to three home T20 matches and four away matches each year.

"Cricket has had great difficulty in drawing large crowds for second level first class matches," he said. "Twenty20 cricket has solved that problem, so we want it to be played at that level as much as possible."

However, he emphasised that Test cricket remained the ICC's priority. "We have Test cricket, which we value greatly, 50-over cricket, which is the financial driver of the game, and now we have a new third generation format - Twenty20 - that has proved to be immensely popular.

"We need to ensure that the pie gets bigger. But our priority will be to preserve Test cricket."

Elworthy said the success of the tournament was because of the cricket, and not only the entertainment surrounding it.

"Everything - the hard hats, the dugouts, the dancers, the music, the dump tanks at domestic matches - they are all about the cricket. We've had tied matches, and matches where smaller countries beat bigger countries - it has been the cricket that has made it a success," he said.

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