Afro-Asia Cup May 28, 2007

A brief history ...

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Heath Streak is floored after attempting to field of his own bowling during the 2005 tournament. The empty seats were indicative of the interest in the event © AFP
The Afro-Asia Cup was the brainchild of Jagmohan Dalmiya, almost his last before he was hounded from office and, subsequently, the game. The idea was to raise money for the Asian Cricket Council and the African Cricket Association, and the whole venture was given a massive boost when the ICC, somewhat controversially, agreed to give the series of one-day matches full ODI status. This was needed to attract sponsor and broadcast interest, but it angered many who argued that it cheapened the record books.

The inaugural tournament took place in South Africa in August 2005, but it proved a big turn-off with the public, although millions were raised through TV and commercial tie-ups. The packed international calendar meant that it had to be played out of season - the outfield at Johannesburg had to be sprayed green for TV audiences.

There was a suspicion that the players were going through the motions. Neil Manthorp noted that they "came together to celebrate wickets in the same manner that accountants gather to discuss a book-keeping oddity. What was the point of it all? Who cared?"

The inaugural tournament was drawn 1-1 after rain washed out the decider in Durban - as if anyone was too bothered - and it seemed that the event would be a one-off before it resurfaced jammed in between the almost endless cycle of one-dayers in June 2007. Again the schedulers arranged for it to be played in the wrong place at the wrong time - during the start of southern India's monsoon season.

In fairness, the money raised did benefit areas of the game that would otherwise have not been in receipt of significant funding. But there remained concerns at the way the event was given official backing.

Almanack report

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo