Today ICC Champions Trophy 2009 Begins

The one-day ICC Champions Trophy starts on Tuesday in South Africa with the future of the 50-over format under the microscope. ICC Champions Trophy 2009 World stars past and present and officials have joined a fierce debate as the overwhelming success of the Indian Premier League-led Twenty20 version has left many querying the role of the ODI in an overcrowded schedule.

Indian batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar favours a four-innings format of 25 overs each to minimise the advantage of winning the toss and former star Anil Kumble supports a reduction to 40 overs.

Others like Australian bowling legend Shane Warne want the ODI format scrapped, believing it has been rendered extinct by the spectator-friendly glitz and glamour of Twenty20 cricket.

But ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat says reports of the death of ODI have been greatly exaggerated and the Champions Trophy tournament will trigger a rebirth of 50-over cricket.

"It reminds me of a year ago when people were talking about the death of Test cricket, with no crowds being there and so on," Lorgat told the South African media.

"I think we are running ahead of ourselves. We will see at the Champions Trophy in South Africa that there is a place for the ODI format in international cricket."

Lorgat warned against obsessive tinkering, saying a glut of ODI fixtures rather than the format may be the biggest problem, a view backed by South Africa skipper Graeme Smith.

"From an innovations point of view, we are always looking for new, exciting things. The batting powerplay is a good example, but we do not want to do too many things too quickly."

After an 11-year identity crisis, Lorgat believes the ICC have discovered the right formula for the often-criticised Champions Trophy, which Warne has labelled a "joke".

Short and sharp are the buzzwords for a 14-day, 15-match ODI feast featuring the top eight nations in the world, including defending champions Australia, who are on a roll as they lead England 6-0 in a series ending Sunday.

India, Pakistan and the West Indies complete Group A with South Africa, Sri Lanka, England and New Zealand in Group B and only the 'Windies' are given no chance as a contract row has forced officials to send a second-string squad.

Skippers Floyd Reifer of the West Indies, Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and Daniel Vettori of New Zealand consider Australia favourites to win the October 5 final and collect the two-million-dollar top prize.

Smith acknowledged Australia have been performing well in England, but said the Proteas were confident of regaining the Champions Trophy after winning the inaugural tournament in Bangladesh 11 years ago.

The eight teams are based in Johannesburg with games at the 30,000-capacity Wanderers stadium in a plush northern suburb of the South African financial capital and the 20,000-seat SuperSport Park in Centurion.

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