The Champions Trophy

It’s had more format changes than the NAB cup (and almost as many name changes), is about as relevant and held in approximately the same regard by fans, players and teams alike. It is, however, a television rights cash cow for the ICC. It is the Mini World Cup/ICC Knockout Tournament/ Champions Trophy But expect few tears to be shed by ICC officials during this final instalment of the Champions Trophy – it has been supplanted by another cash cow – biennial World T20’s.

It seems odd that this will be the last Champions Trophy as looking at the future tours program there is another World Cup in 2019 in England so another Champions Trophy installment in 2017 would seem logical. No it’s been replaced by a Test play-off in 2017. Can’t wait for that to not happen and be changed to a host of meaningless 7 game bilateral one day series, some triangular one day tournaments or perhaps even an extended Champions League T20 – that really brings in the fans.

 

The history

The rich tapestry of  the Champions Trophy’s/ICC Knockout Tournaments stretches way back to all of 15 years ago in 1998  with the first installment being a week long knock out tournament in Bangladesh. South Africa managed not to choke and won its only global tournament to date. Kenya hosted in 200o with the highlights being former Canberra Comet Mark Higgs making his debut for Australia and the Black Caps winning their first international event. Ever. Who can forget Sri Lanka in the rainy season as host in 2002. Remember that rained out final – what drama! Both the final and the reserve day were washed out and India and Sri Lanka were named co-champions – Remember that one? England 2004 was an abomination of stupidity as highlighted here and included minnow teams getting their pants pulled down and then pulled back up over their heads in a massive wedgie. Witness USA v Australia. India 2006 is when Australia started getting serious about the Champions Trophy (ie they won it for the first time) and South Africa 2009 is remembered for the great form and unfortunately knee injury to Cal Ferguson and these magnificent white jackets.

The Champions Trophy 2009 and the marvelous jackets that would have made Richie Benaud proud
Storm the commentary box: The Champions Trophy 2009 and the marvelous jackets that would have made Richie Benaud proud

 

The format

This one is probably one of the better formats even if it is a bit light on for teams: 8 teams in 2 groups of 4, 3 group stage games for each team with the top two from each group through to knockout semi’s and then the final. And all done in dusted in  just a touch over 2 weeks – pithy and purposeful(perhaps).Seeing as there are 10 test playing nations and 16 countries with ODI status I would have thought at least 12 of them could get a gig in a Champions trophy. If the ICC could see their way clear to have 3 groups of 4 teams and play 2 games of cricket on the same day (heresy for TV rights I assume) save for India games being standalone (gold dust for TV rights I’m guessing) then the tournament could still run in the same timeframe. It’s not like England are short on cricket grounds wanting to host international cricket. How does the ICC expect countries like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Afganistan etc to improve if they don’t play in these sort of events against the ‘big boys’?

Whatever it’s merit’s the Champions Trophy kicks of this year’s Ashes tour. Australia is in a group with England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka and appropriately their first game is against England. The other group contains India, Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa.

 

 

The schedule

Saturday June 8 , England v Australia, Edgbaston, 19:30

Wednesday June 12, Australia v New Zealand,  Edgbaston, 19:30

Monday June 17, Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval, 22:00

 

Semi finals: Wednesday June 19 & Thursday June 20,The Oval & Cardiff

The final:  Sunday June 23,Edgbaston

 

 

Warm up games.

Why wouldn’t you have warm up matches for a tournament no one cares about. Don’t say that to Pakistan fans, the national team have been touring Scotland and Ireland for the past 3 weeks. Pakistan are giving this tournament ‘due diligence’ (pity their fast bowlers weren’t so diligent with the landing position of their front foot a couple of years ago) which must be the first time they have ever prepared for a tournament without a crisis. Expect them to implode shortly. Anyway as if to highlight Ireland deserving a slot in the tournament the first ODI between Pakistan and Ireland was a tie.

 

A fan at the Ireland v Pakistan ODI - or is that Shahid Afridi?? As the original caption said... "some [fans] more enthusiastically dressed than others!"
A fan at the Ireland v Pakistan ODI – or is that Shahid Afridi?
As the original caption said… “some [fans] more enthusiastically dressed than others!”
South Africa went on a home coming tour of sorts playing aginast the Netherlands in Rotterdam, where they played against a host of their countrymen (good preparation for playing against England I guess) and an Australian –Tom Cooper,. AB de Villiers played international cricket AGAINST a childhood friend for the second time in 6 months  – first it was a test against Kiwi/SA Neil Wagner (who was in the same school First XI as ABdV) and now Dutch/SA Stephen Myburgh.(who AB has known since he was 9)

Australia had been keeping a low profile and progressing smoothly until they played a match and it all started to go wrong. First Shane Watson made a commanding 135 opening against the West Indies – no doubt strengthening in his mind that he should open the batting in the Ashes. To me Watto is the new Bevo, a limited overs specialist. Fortunately the Australian test batting order was a little stronger in Bevo’s day and he only managed 18 tests – Watto has played 40. In the second game Austrlaia capitualated like a bunch of hacks to be humbled for 65 losing by 240 odd runs to India.( must have been a dodgy deck) Yep it was a return to the limpwristed batting efforts which blighted the bilateral ODI series against Sri Lanka in January. Once this Australian batting order puts it’s mind to collapsing there is no stopping it, not even Bevo could help this bunch.

NZ and England took a unique approach to the warm up games by playing a bilateral 3 game series. England has been horrid but equally New Zealand has been magnificent lead by Marty Two Toes Guptil with back to back tons including 189 in their most recent game. Wow.

The other sides have pretty much pleased themselves with a couple of games of 15 a side.

 

The tip

For their dedication to having a two country 6 game warm up tour, my tip is Pakistan. They have form in tournaments in England – winning the 2009 World T20 – and imagine how excited that fan will be.

 

 

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Published by

Ross Slater

Blogging about the important things - AFL and cricket

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