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Cricket is played all year round and there are competitions taking place right through the calendar. As with all sports, some of these events are more important than others, and here is a guide to the most important cricket tournaments.
Which is the Oldest International Tournament?
The oldest international cricket tournament in the world is the Ashes. This is the test match series between England and Australia which is contested around every two years.
The teams first played an official test match in 1877 while the Ashes trophy was established in 1882.
Top International Cricket Tournaments
ICC Cricket World Cup
When we talk about the ICC Cricket World Cup, we are specifically referring to the longer limited overs format. When the competition was first introduced in 1975, 60 over cricket was played. There was no such thing as T20 cricket so the tournament was simply known as the World Cup.
The West Indies won the first two editions which were played in England in 1975 and 1979. Since then, the Australians have become the most successful team with five World Cup wins.
While there have been some adjustments to accommodate other tournaments, the ICC Cricket World Cup is now scheduled to take place every four years.
ICC Champions Trophy
The ICC Champions Trophy used to alternate between 50-Over World Cups. It worked to the same format but, since the introduction of T20 cricket, there has been little space for it on the calendar.
Run by the International Cricket Council, the first edition of the Champions Trophy was held in 1998, while the most recent took place in England in 2017. The intention was to drop the competition altogether but it is so popular that it is set to return in 2025.
The most successful teams in the history of the Champions Trophy are India and Australia who have both won it twice.
ICC T20 World Cup
T20 cricket began in England in 2003 while the first World Cup in this format came along four years later. That inaugural T20 World Cup of 2007 was won by India and this remains their only victory to date.
Prior to the 2022 World Cup in Australia, only one team, the West Indies, had won the tournament on two previous occasions.
Organised by the International Cricket Council, the 20 Over World Cup has been squeezed into the schedule on an ad hoc basis in the past. As an established format, the competition should now be held every two years from the 2022 edition onwards.
The Ashes is played exclusively between England and Australia. The two teams played in the oldest official international cricket fixture back in 1877, and they continue to do battle in the modern day.
The Ashes trophy wasn’t in place immediately: That came along in 1882 after an infamous English defeat. It’s said that the Ashes of a bail were burnt and placed in an urn before being presented to the England captain, the Honourable Ivo Bligh.
The iconic Ashes trophy was now in place and this made the competition even more intense. Some memorable encounters have been played including the Bodyline games of 1932/33 and the thrilling 2005 series.
Australia and England take turns in hosting the Ashes. There is no set dateline but there will generally be a series every two years.
The two teams have been fairly evenly matched over the years. Using statistics up to and including the 2021/22 games in Australia, the Aussies led the way with 34 series wins. England had won 32 and there had been six drawn series.
The Asia Cup is a tournament that is played by the best teams on the continent. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are the test playing nations involved and they are joined by ICC associate teams such as Hong Kong.
This is a limited overs competition which began in 1984 as a 50-Over tournament between India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Gradually things have expanded and we can usually expect to see six countries involved in future Asia Cups.
The format has also been subject to change since the advent of international T20 cricket in 2005. The first T20 version of the Asia Cup was played in 2016.
As the competition reaches its 40th anniversary, there have been 15 editions of the Asia Cup, up to and including the 2022 version. India are the most successful team in that time with seven wins while Sri Lanka are close behind on six.
The Asia Cup will generally be played every two years and is overseen by the International Cricket Council. The tournament is set to alternate between the 20-over and 50-over formats.
Two great players, Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar gave their name to this trophy which is played between India and Australia. The teams first met in a test match during Australia’s 1947/48 season, but it would be some time before an official trophy was put in place.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Allan Border for Australia and Sunil Gavaskar for India had played some important innings for their respective sides. It therefore seemed appropriate that the new trophy was named in their honour.
The first Border Gavaskar test was played as a one-off game in October 1996 and the match was won by India. From that point, through to the most recent series in 2021/22, the trophy has been contested on 15 different occasions.
India have been the most successful of the two countries so far. They have won nine series as opposed to Australia’s five. Back in 2003/04, the series was drawn and this is the only occasion that this has happened, at the time of writing.
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy now falls under the auspices of the International Cricket Council and games are put in place as part of the ICC’s Future Tours programme.
Commonwealth Bank Series
The Commonwealth Bank Series hasn’t been contested since 2015, but it’s worth mentioning here as it’s one of the oldest tournaments of its kind. First held in 1979, this was a 50-over competition between Australia and two other countries who happened to be on tour here.
As the only team to take part in every Commonwealth Bank series, it’s no surprise to learn that Australia were the most successful side. However, early results from that 1979/80 season onwards showed that the West Indies had the upper hand on a number of occasions.
There are very few trilateral competitions left in world cricket, so it’s very much hoped that the Commonwealth Bank series is resurrected at some stage in the future.
It’s a packed calendar of cricket tournaments and one that is being added to on a regular basis. There are more that could have been included on the list, but these are the most historic and the most important.
The Ashes is the oldest of the tournaments and it’s the most important for the two teams taking part. Other competitions, such as the Asia Cup, are more relevant to the teams that are involved.
That leaves us with the global competitions – the two World Cups and the Champions Trophy. As three tournaments which are open to all cricket playing nations, it’s probably fair to say that these are the most important of all.