Unusual Limited Overs Matches in Australia – Part 1

Part 1 – Tournaments, trophies and tour matches

28. The World Championship of Cricket, MCG, March 1985


Before there was the Champions Trophy in between World Cups there was the World Championship of Cricket in March 1985 neatly placed between the 1983 and 1987 World Cups. All seven test playing nations of the time entered teams in the event organised by the Victorian Cricket Association to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the state of Victoria.


Lights were installed at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the event and were switched on for the first time, during the opening match between England and Australia, drawing a crowd of 82,494. Three was a group stage plus semi finals but Australia failed to make the semi finals. The final was between India and Pakistan under lights at the MCG with India victorious and collecting the $32,000 in prizemoney.
Sunil Gavaskar accepts the trophy for Winning the World Championship of Cricket in 1985
Sunil Gavaskar accepts the trophy for Winning the World Championship of Cricket in 1985

Curiously, despite being an event to celebrate the state of Victoria, 4 of the 13 games were held at the Sydney Cricket Ground including one of the semi finals and the ‘consolation final’ a third place play off for the losing semi finalists – an idea that I haven’t seen in a cricket tournament before or since.


27. The Perth Challenge, WACA, January 1987


To coincide with the Americas Cup being held in Fremantle and the associated Festival of Sport, cricket got in on the act with Australia, England, the West Indies and Pakistan participating in a one day  tournament, playing each other once plus a final, over 9 days across the New Year period.


All games were played at the WACA with the lights at the ground used for the first time. Dean Jones scored back to back centuries against Pakistan and England but Ian Botham destroyed Australia on New Years Day with a whirlwind 68 off 39 balls.


England went on to defeat Pakistan in the final lead by the familiar names of Botham, Alan Lamb and Mike Gatting as captain.

It definitely was a thing in the 80’s to have an ODI tournament to celebrate getting ground lights.

 26. The Super Challenge, Docklands, Melbourne, 2000

Docklands stadium in Melbourne opened for AFL football in March 2000 and it wasn’t long before cricket got in on the act hosting South Africa in a 3 game ODI series at the roofed, indoor stadium just a few months later in August. August is most definitely winter and football season in Australia and this event, The Super Challenge, was part of a brief foray by Cricket Australia into playing matches during the Australian winter.

Indoor cricket at the Docklands Stadium in Melbourne
Indoor cricket at the Docklands Stadium in Melbourne

The ground was a slippery in patches and some fielders resorted to wearing football boots instead of cricket spikes to get traction in the outfield.  The drop in pitches were grown in hot houses in Seymour in country Victoria under the careful eye of legendary Adelaide Oval curator, Les Burdett and dropped into place so cricket could be played just 5 days after an AFL game.

Super Challenge 2000 logo

The 2001 series against South Africa attracted over 90,000 spectators and was tied at 1-1 with one match a tie. The Super Challange II pushed deeper into winter and out of cricket season being played in mid-June 2002. Australia took on Pakistan in 2 matches at Docklands and 1 match at the Gabba in Brisbane; Pakistan won 2-1. 11,000 people turned at the Gabba up to see Australia and Pakistan in a an ODI on a Wednesday night in June.

25. Top End Tours, Cairns & Darwin, 2003 & 2008

Cricket Australia pushed on with winter cricket scheduling unfurling the Top End Tours in July 2003 with the reason given to keep up with their commitments of the Future Tours Program.

Bangladesh toured playing 2 Tests in Australia’s most recent additions as Test venues – Cairns and Darwin – followed by 3 ODIs at the same grounds. Australia celebrated the Top End Tours by crushing Bangladesh 2-0 and 3-0 respectively.  Sri Lanka toured in July 2004 for 2 Tests only and then the Top End Tours had a hiatus.

As per the Future Tours program Australia were meant play 2 Tests and 3 ODIs against Bangladesh in 2008 and so the Top End Tours were kicked back into life. But in a masterful piece of spin Cricket Australia downgraded the series to 3 ODIs only because the 2 Tests would have clashed with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Certainly this is one of the better reasons given for ignoring the Future Tours Program – points for creativity. I’m still trying to see how it was a clash (TV perhaps) and surprised that an event such as the Olympics might have slipped though unnoticed when the initial fixturing was done.

The points to note from the last installment of the Top End Tour (so far) were Brett Geeves made his ODI debut and in a small story Andrew Symonds was sacked from the Australian set up after going fishing instead of attending a ‘non-compulsory’ team meeting. Hmm, a long list of previous misdemeanors didn’t help Symonds cause.
24. Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, 2004-2010

Remember this? It was meant to be cricket’s answer to the Bledisloe Cup an annual best of 3 one day cricket series. The first series was in Australia in December 2004 and the result was a tied series 1-1 with a washout.

The second series in New Zealand in December 2005 was won by Australia 2-1 thanks in part to some great death bowling by Victorian paceman Mick Lewis. His international career would unravel in South Africa a few months later.

Australia win the Chappell- Hadlee Trophy
Australia win the Chappell- Hadlee Trophy

Notably in February 2007 Australia sent a weakened team to New Zealand, with a number of stars rested prior to the World Cup, and were beaten 3-0. Mike Hussey captained this team.

The Trophy was contested in 2008/09 and 2009/10 in 5 match series but then things got a bit strange and the most recent time the Chappell Hadlee Trophy was contested was when the two team met at the 2011 World Cup – Australia won.

Australia and New Zealand are not due to meet in a bilateral one day series until February 2017 so the Chappell Hadlee trophy is on hold for now.


23. Lilac Hill Festival Match, Perth, 1990-2008


The Lilac Hill Festival match in Perth was designed to be a semi serious tour opener for international teams in the mold of the Arundel Castle match on tours of England. The matches commenced in 1990 and featured some retired greats of the game, most notably Denis Lillee who played in the first 10 matches for the ACB/CA Chairmans XI against the touring nation.


The concept is best described by Mark Weinman, from the LHFM Committee,  “Each year for the last twenty but one, eight to ten thousand people have made their way on a summer day to a field in semi-rural Caversham, on the banks of the Swan River. The field was transformed into an arena and the event was the Lilac Hill Festival Match – a unique combination of world class cricket, entertainment, food, beverage and crowd diversity.”
Lilac Hill in 2008
Lilac Hill in 2008

Probably the most memorable game was the 10th anniversary game in 1999 when when Dennis Lillee played his final match for the Chairman’s XI alongside his son Adam and they combined to rip through the touring Pakistan team.


By 2008 tighter touring schedules and reluctance of international touring teams to participate meant the Lilac Hill match died but the good people of Perth have resurrected the concept in another way using T20, which is elsewhere in this list.


22. Champions Cup,  WACA,  April 2001


Points to you if you have ever even heard of this. Before there was the Champions League T20 there was the Champions Cup in Perth in April 2001. It brought together the domestic one day champions of Australia, South Africa, India and New Zealand in a week long tournament at the WACA.


The teams were:
Western Australia (Australia)
KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa)
Central Districts (New Zealand)
Mumbai (India)


Western Australia and KwaZulu-Natal met in the final with the locals victorious fielding a batting line up of Marcus North, Justin Langer, Simon Katich, Murray Goodwin and Mike Hussey. The powerful WA XI contained only 2 player who didn’t play Test cricket – wicket keeper Ryan Campbell (who played for ODIs for Australia) and allrounder Kayde Harvey. The bowling attack contained future and past test players in Brad Hogg, Matthew Nicholson, Brad Williams and Jo Angel. Western Australia pocketed $35,000 prizemoney for their efforts.


As far as I can see there is no record of another Champions Cup being played and it wasn’t until 2009 that the T20 version was introduced, the Champions League.



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Ross Slater

Blogging about the important things - AFL and cricket

2 thoughts on “Unusual Limited Overs Matches in Australia – Part 1”

    1. Mick,
      Thanks for the comment and good call. Somewhat surprisingly Brayshaw has been true to himself over the years. As for Optus Vision and C7 they were desperate to get some quality sport on pay tv platforms and I recall them broadcasting AFL 2:10pm games on Saturdays but why they chose semi serious tour matches is hard to work out. Keith Stackpole was an excellent comentator for Ch 9, ABC radio and on Optus Vision C7.

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