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Leading eight teams for next year's ICC Trophy - Speed

ICC TROPHY: The Chief Executive Officer of the International Cricket Council Malcolm Speed emphasized that the next Champions Trophy Mini World Cup in Pakistan will feature only the top eight one day teams.

He said that this is a difficult balance as on one hand they want to give teams at the lower end of the ICC one day international table the maximum exposure at the highest level while at the same time the public is mainly interested in the top teams facing each other.

The present Champions Trophy tournament however saw the top six teams qualify for the main competition and two more teams added following the qualifying round.

"There has been severe criticism against the length of the tournament which is unfair. True it will last thirty days but a number of issues needed to be considered into the schedule including Diwali festival".

Speed said that "even the busiest team played a maximum of only eight matches while ensuring that players got sufficient rest between games. If the matches had been crammed into a shorter period we would have been criticized for over burdening players".

There has also been severe criticism from several quarters that this tournament is been held much closer to the ICC World Cup which will be held next year in the West Indies.

However Speed said that the Champions Trophy Mini World Cup could add as a great form guide for the players, officials and the public alike ahead of a major event.

"It offers teams the opportunity to gain momentum to be strong opponents for the Caribbean Chmpionship. This event is a blessing and it means plenty to the players, coaches and officials".

Speed stressed the importance of having more tournaments of this nature in the ICC member countries in their attempt to promote the game.

After the World Cup in the West Indies and the inaugural Twenty/20 World Cup in 2007 we will have a major ICC event every year through to 2015. This will provide a focus for the member countries and will ensure many of them remain financially stable.

Speed explained that the ICC Champions Trophy is not only a successful event but it is also an established part of international cricket's landscape. In fact the five times this tournament has been staged either as the ICC knock out or the Champions Trophy a total of $ 65 million has been raised.

In addition the current tournament in India is expected to produce a global television audience of over one billion viewers.

Speed said that only if the game is on a sound financial footing that they could make improvements into the administration, facilities and other requirements. "As a not for profit organization we have a duty, to ensure stability. The Champions Trophy plays a vital role in doing so."

In fact the total prize money for the present Champions Trophy is US $ 1.15 million with the champions receiving a total of US $ 300,000.

The winners of each semifinal will receive US $ 125,000 each and the winners of each match in the second round will receive US $ 50,000.

Speed said that the format of the tournament was changed since the inaugural event in Bangladesh in 1998 because everyone wanted a change.

Incidentally from a relatively modest beginning when it was known as the ICC knock out which involved just nine matches this tournament has grown to become recognized as cricket's second major event after the ICC World Cup.

AHEMEDEBAD, Sunday.

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