Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Say goodbye to the Champions Trophy - again - and get ready for back-to-back editions of the World T20. The future of one of the most popular ODI tournaments has been seemingly sealed with the ICC board moving to replace the 2021 Champions Trophy, scheduled to be held in India, with a World T20. That will be the second World T20 in two years, following the 2020 event in Australia. India will host 2021 World T20, as well as the 2023 World Cup.
"ICC Members have signed off a new Future Tours Programme (FTP) for 2019-2023 that incorporates the introduction of a World Test Championship and an additional ICC World T20 event in place of the Champions Trophy in 2021," an ICC release said. "This provides opportunities for 16 teams to compete at a global level with a sub-regional, regional and global qualification process every two years, giving more regular cricket to more Members."
The ICC's management had proposed the switch, and had spoken to the BCCI about it in Auckland last October. At the time, BCCI officials said they "needed to see the financial implications" of the decision. The idea was for the ICC's chief executives' committee (CEC) to then deliberate the pros and cons of such a move before a decision.
But the CEC never got the opportunity. ESPNcricinfo understands the ICC board took the decision at the next ICC meeting in Dubai on February 9, with the approval of Amitabh Choudhary, the BCCI's treasurer. The minutes of that meeting, seen by ESPNcricinfo, include the ICC's intention to "convert" the 2021 Champions Trophy to a World Twenty20 with "45 matches". This week in Kolkata, the decision was notified to the CEC.
That February meeting and Choudhary's approval is important because before this week's meetings, Choudhary had spoken publicly of not being in favour of the move because it could cause a loss to the BCCI.
It now remains to be seen how the BCCI's members will react. According to Choudhary, the board's general body had, in the past, given an "in principle" nod to the FTP that listed the Champions Trophy for 2021. "We don't know what transpired on February 9 and this week, but it will definitely be brought to the general body which will take the final call," he told ESPNcricinfo.
There could be a couple of reasons behind the switch. According to one ICC board director, concern over lower revenue payouts to Full Members necessitated the need. The financial revenue model agreed upon last June assures all 12 Full Members a portion of revenue from the projected USD 2.7 billion the ICC is estimated to make in the 2016-23 rights cycle.
"They said the market is weak," the director said, referring to the belief that a World T20, with more matches, would raise more revenue than a Champions Trophy. "And this could be the reason they are converting to World T20."
Another official familiar with the negotiations said the ICC board agreed because the World T20 will be a more inclusive tournament with 16 teams, as opposed to just eight in a Champions Trophy.
According to that official, although the Champions Trophy had settled upon a successful, short format, it was about "providing more opportunities in the format we are trying to use to expand the game. That was the driver."
The official said the ICC board will discuss "altering" the existing arrangement with Star India, who holds rights to all ICC events in the cycle, including a Champions Trophy in 2021. Star are believed to be receptive to the idea, though the official said they had still to "cross the t's and dot the i's" on it.