Asia Cup to switch to T20 format


Two Associate teams set to feature from 2016 as Asia Cup moves to mirror format of following World Cup

The Asia Cup is set to undergo a radical change and will be a Twenty20 competition in 2016 for the first time, outgoing Asian Cricket Council chief executive Syed Ashraful Haq has revealed. The ACC is to be wound down by June 30 and its operations absorbed by the International Cricket Council, prompting fears the Asia Cup tournament could be disbanded.

However, Haq confirmed to that not only would the tournament continue every two years, it would be revamped to include more Associate nations and mirror the format of the World Cup event to follow. Haq confirmed reports the ACC’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur would close on June 30 and the development work currently done by the organisation would be taken over by the ICC. He said the 2016 Asia Cup would be held early next year as a prelude to the ICC World Twenty20, with the latter to be hosted by India from March 11 to April 3. It would then revert to a 50-over tournament in 2018 ahead of the 2019 World Cup in England and be played as a Twenty20 competition again in 2020.

Haq suggested the change in format could also see two Associate nations join India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the tournament. Afghanistan, Nepal, Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates have Twenty20 status. “As there is a World Twenty20 tournament in 2016, the Asia Cup next year will also be of Twenty20 Internationals in February or March,” Haq told “The host country has not been decided yet.” Bangladesh hosted the previous two Asia Cups in 2014 and 2012. “There may be one or two teams from Associate nations as well,” Haq added. “They could join India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the main tournament after playing a qualifying round.”

The Asia Cup will return to an ODI format in 2018 with the biennial event set to mirror the format of the major ICC event that follows. It’s a change that will allow Asia Cup contestants to fine-tune for World Cups with in a major regional competition. “The year 2020 will again see the tournament in Twenty20 format and there will be another ODI (50-over) Asia Cup in 2022,” Haq said. Sri Lanka won the last Asia Cup, held in Bangladesh in 2014, and has won the competition five times since its inception in 1984. Pakistan have won twice – in 2012 and 2000 – while India are also five time winners.

If two teams are included from the Associate nations, the 2016 Asia Cup could see six teams competing in the tournament for only the third time. Afghanistan took part in the 2014 tournament, which featured five teams, while UAE and Hong Kong were part the 2004 and 2008 Cups, which both featured six teams.

The changes mean the 2016 Asia Cup will be the biggest Twenty20 tournament outside of the ICC World Twenty20. The revamp of the ACC will also see Haq’s 32-year association with the organisation – which began on its first day of operation in 1983 – finish at the end of the financial year.

There will be no chief executive position in the new ACC and the current headquarters in Kuala Lumpur will close, with the two remaining ACC employees to work from Singapore. Some other staff members including ACC coaches Aminul Islam and Venkatapathy Raju will work for the ICC from July 1. But Haq shrugged off suggestions the changes to the ACC meant the Asia Cup’s future was in doubt. “It is correct that Asian Cricket Council (ACC) is being dwindled down to only two employees who will work from Singapore,” he said. “Whatever the development work ACC used to do will now be done by the International Cricket Council. “However, the Asia Cup will continue to take place after every two years.  “The Asia Cup events have been slotted in for next eight years in the Future Tours Programme.”

The Asia Cup was first held in 1984, with 12 tournaments held in the ODI format and two Test Championships in 1999 and 2001-02. India and Sri Lanka winning five titles each, while Pakistan has won the event twice. Sri Lanka won the 2014 edition, defeating Pakistan by five wickets in the final.