Afro-Asia Cup catches many on the hop
Although it raised funds for the Africa Cricket Association (ACA) and the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) - the two split around $1 million - there were question marks over its future, especially as crowds at the three matches were desultory. What is more, the tournament was the brainchild of Jagmohan Dalimya, and as such was believed to be in doubt following his removal from power.
As recently as a fortnight ago, a spokesman for the ACC told Cricinfo that "the Afro-Asia Cup is not taking place this year" but added that he was confident it would return in 2007. And last week a senior African administrator told Cricinfo that the event was certainly not happening in 2006, and he cited the packed schedule of the Indian side as the main reason.
The ICC's announcement, therefore, caught many on the hop, and given the current debate over player burnout, it was even more surprising to see it earmarked to take place in the week between the end of the ICC Champions Trophy and the start of India's tour of South Africa and Pakistan's home series with West Indies.
It now seems that the event, consisting of three day-night matches, is being planned to take place in India in the last week of September, between the recently-announced India-West Indies ODIs in North America and the start of the Champions Trophy. The only clash then would be that Pakistan are scheduled to be hosting Zimbabwe for three ODIs, but the Pakistan board have already signalled its reluctance to go ahead with the series.
It is believed that the Indian board were against the continuation of the event, but, as one administrator admitted, there was more involved than cricket. "You have to recognise that there are serious politics at play," he explained, "as well as some personal agenda-settling."
It seems that support for the World Cup bid was tied in with the decision, which was made during the recent ICC executive board meeting in Dubai, and also that the TV company who had signed a three-year deal to broadcast the tournament also had their say.
So the Afro-Asia Cup continues. The third event is set to happen in early June 2007 back in Africa, but after that its future has to be doubtful as the TV contract is up and some of the Asian boards might feel that it has outlived it useful life.