With New Zealand's next test assignment scheduled for November against the West Indies, June's Champions Trophy is paramount for maintaining the Black Caps' status in the eyes of the cricketing world.

The team's performance could be critical in helping negotiate independent bilateral series outside the International Cricket Council-generated future tours programme.

Unfortunately, the tournament has a reputation as a revenue-gathering exercise with limited weight attached to the triumph. Hopefully the upcoming 18-day edition changes that perception.

The concentrated format is arguably better than the World Cup as a vehicle to decide the best ODI team in the world. The last four World Cups have varied between 43 and 47 days which can lead to early tedium and mismatches.


The flipside is the ICC might struggle to maximise revenue if their premier ODI tournament lasts less than three weeks. Those funds help develop the game worldwide.

However, ODI cricketers play for only a maximum of 100 overs, and many spend nothing like that period on the field. The elongated World Cup format becomes questionable compared to physically demanding sports such as rugby and football. Rugby completes its premier tournament in a similar time frame, while football fits 64 matches between 32 teams into a month.

Cricket's World Cup has the permutations and complications of a John le Carre novel; the Champions Trophy is a spaghetti western where teams reach for their holsters as they burst through saloon doors. Knock-out pressure adds pep to the itinerary.

Despite this, the Champions Trophy victor tends to be treated with the respect reserved for a world championship victory in an Olympic sport. The "real" event is in two years. "True" resonance can only be earned on the five-ringed stage.

A simple gauge is to ask who won the last Champions Trophy? It was India, by the way.

New Zealand has had success across the tournament's seven editions. They won the original knockout format in 2000, courtesy of Chris Cairns' 102 not out chasing 265 to beat India at Nairobi; they made the final in 2009 (South Africa) and were semifinalists in 2006 (India). Last time, they missed the semifinals.

Like many teams, New Zealand's build-up promises to be disjointed, with key players involved in the Indian Premier League.

They play a tri-series against hosts Ireland and Bangladesh in May, but many of the squad will be temporary before senior players arrive for the first Champions Trophy match against Australia at Edgbaston. From there, they play Bangladesh and England to complete their pool.