Friday, June 7, 2013

The ICC Champions Trophy History (and Preview)

So here we are in England for the last edition of the ICC Knockout / Mini World Cup / ICC Champions Trophy / Thing.

This is a strange little tournament purposely offset in between the 'real' fifty over world cups, designed to be a quick-smart affair all over in a couple of weeks (take note IPL). However fifty over cricket must die according to the powers that be, and the idea has now been thrown out and we won't see it again.

I'm going to disagree with the majority and say that I like the tournament. This would be the only other time that all the leading teams of world cricket will be assembled.  That was until the rise of T20 cricket came along and demanded its own little World Cup, and the other problem is that a couple of the tournaments did suck and slipped in and out of memory without much of a second thought.  Here's hoping for a memorable showing in the next fortnight to resurrect interest.

Let's have a quick look at its history:

1998 - South Africa Finally Wins Something
... and it's the only cricketing tournament they have ever won. There was a Tendulkar pummelling that eliminated Australia, but apart from that it was a pretty ho-hum affair.

2000 - The Cairns Show
India were on a nice roll courtesy of a pair of Ganguly tons and young renegades on debut namely Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan, both of who were responsible for again dismantling Australia in the quarter final. The script was set for India, but they hit a roadblock in the form of a "how did they get this far anyway" New Zealand team.  Chris Cairns fired one of his few shots as a gun batsman, and stomped all over a lazy Indian performance in the final.

I remember that day because it was one of those rare occasions the patented Fleming Frown disappeared, at least for a while.

"Why couldn't I be Australian". © Getty

2002 - The Rise of Young India 
Some trash was tossed, a bunch of young swashbucklers came in, and combined with some old pros India suddenly had a team that was worthy of challenging the world. Sehwag blew England away, Yuvraj and Bhajji stole it from the Saffa's and it was them and the Sri Lankan's left to face off in the final...

... which turned out to be a farce rivalling the shameful 2007 World Cup Final. After a first day washout with one full innings they chose to replay the game, only for another washout, with one full innings. Sri Lanka batted twice, India didn't bat at all. The series was tied and stupidity was the only winner.

2004 - The West Indies Miracle
They should never have won this, but somehow the West Indies fought back from 147-8 with no real batsmen left to chase down 217 and steal it from England, who did the hard work of dispatching Australia. That 8th wicket partnership was famous, but the manic celebrations that followed were the stuff of legend. Oh West Indies we missed you, too bad this was a flash in the pan and they went into hiding again.

2006 - The West Indies Implosion
This time the West Indies went absolutely crazy, mainly none other than Chris Gayle. His list of achievements included:

  • Giving Michael Clarke a verbal spray about second class citizens
  • Hurling the ball over the keeper for free overthrows
  • Hopping about left and right and circling the air after bowling out Symonds 
  • Easing to a bizarrely sedate century against England
  • Smashing South Africa out of the tournament with another century
  • Most runs, four man of the match awards and man of the tournament
"Earl Grey or English Breakfast?" © Getty

It got really weird in the final as he went on to blitz the world's best bowling attack all around the place, leading them to 80 runs in the first 8 overs. "Unfinished business" he said, and after their pool play victory they looked set to win it all.

Unfortunately the business went into liquidation once Bracken bowled the ball of the tournament, and the slide that followed was one of the many famous Calypso Collapso's (described in full here). Australia had finally won one of these tournaments.

2009 - The Forgettable One
A much quieter affair this time as most teams fought evenly and intriguingly at first, but were blown away with ease by Australia, depressingly leading the pack miles ahead of the rest much like the 2007 World Cup. A plucky New Zealand lot emerged from the ashes and worked their way into the final, but a Vettori injury sealed that fate swiftly.

2013 - So Who Will Win This Time?
Let's have some predictions:
  • Chris Gayle will go crazy at least once.... and then fail when it really matters.
  • South Africa will lose a game they should have won.
  • Sri Lanka's middle order will let them down
  • India will collapse spectacularly, during which Kohli will yell at someone and Dhoni will remain not out
  • Pakistan will come with a hiss and a roar, but will quietly disappear.
  • Australia will fail miserably (I predicted this before the 65 all out)
  • England will scratch their heads still not realizing they are not as good as they think they are.

This leaves my winner.... NEW ZEALAND. 

Yes I'm calling it; the humble land of the long white cloud will claim their second title and shall forever remain ICC Trophy Champions.

Contributed by : Varun Prasad
Varun’s blog : The Cricket Musings

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