Posted by: nestaquin | October 1, 2009

A Squiz at the 2009 Champions Trophy

Champions TrophyWith the preliminary rounds of the Champions Trophy now complete and a rare morning free to ponder cricket, a quick summation of both groups and semi-finalists appears a felicitous way to procrastinate while soaking up some welcome UV from the verandah. Personally, the best aspect of the tournament has been the inclusion of ICL pariahs like Shane Bond and Mohammed Yousef. They are excellent cricketers and their teams and cricket in general is brighter with them competing. What a waste it was to have them banned due to petty squabbling among the game’s administrators.

THE LOSERS

SOUTH AFRICA

The hosts and supposed heir to Australia’s ODI throne once again failed to progress past the first round in a global tournament on home soil much to the frustration of their inspirational captain Graeme Smith. Their bowling was indisciplined and their batting, Smith excepted, crumbled under pressure. Considering the talent within the squad South Africa should have done better and they have much work to do on the mental side of the game before the next World Cup.

SRI LANKA

Started very well with a comprehensive win over the Proteas then failed with bat against England and then with ball when playing New Zealand. After being runners-up at the last two global limited-over tournaments more was expected from Sangakkara’s men and their inconsistency and inability to seize control in the crucial moments in big matches must be a concern for their coach and captain.

WEST INDIES

The Caribbean Second XI never really stood a chance. Inexperienced and questioning if they belong at the elite level they were soundly beaten in every match. However, unlike the other three teams knocked out in the first round the Windies can take many positives from their young squad’s efforts. The younger members of the team now have the experience of a global tournament under their belt and they’ve uncovered a fine prospect in Antiguan Gavin Tonge who bowled very well despite having very little support. Unfortunately, if the same team arrives in Australia next month there will be a succession of very short, one-sided and quickly forgotten Test matches.

INDIA

The richest and most populous cricket nation failed on the big limited-over stage at the first hurdle for the third time in four outings. Clearly not good enough considering their resources and structures when compared to semi-finalists like New Zealand and Pakistan. Collectively, their bowling was poor against Pakistan and Australia and the batting struggled with scoreboard pressure in their opening match. Excuses will be made about injuries to key players but that doesn’t hold when you consider that England are missing Flintoff and Pietersen and New Zealand half their First XI.

THE WINNERS

ENGLAND

Surprised everyone including their own supporters with two fine wins against quality oppposition to begin the tournament. Their seamers led by Jimmy Anderson have been impressive and their batting has done the job without meaningful contribution from their influential and in-form captain. Obviously, playing Australia for months on end has served them well and the semi-final on Friday allows them a golden opportunity to leave another empty space in Australia’s once complete trophy room at Jolimont.

NEW ZEALAND

It is difficult not to admire the Black Caps. Decimated by injury, broke and with the smallest pool of cricketers in elite cricket they keep producing in major tournaments. They’ve played this tournament in excellent spirit and style and have found a way to win after looking likely to exit after their early loss to South Africa. How they continually find a way to triumph when more prosperous nations fall is obscure but after watching Kiwi’s battle against the odds in numerous sports for many a year I suspect it may have everything to do with pride and the Silver Fern on cap and chest.

PAKISTAN

The World T20 champions look likely to add the Champions Trophy to their growing list of recent achievements. They have a wonderfully balanced bowling line-up including the best white ball bowler of the past few years, Umer Gul, and and a pair of crafty and accomplished spinners in Afridi and Ajmal. Their middle-order batting is all class and composure and they have the confidence, balance and form to go all the way. Against Australia they cruised for 90 overs before increasing pressure and tempo in the last ten in search of an unlikely victory. In an inconsequential match they failed by one ball but they gave Australia an almighty fright and served notice that they are the best team at the tournament.

AUSTRALIA

Undefeated in nine of their last ten ODIs Australia are clearly a team who know how to win as evidenced by their last ball victory over Pakistan to squeeze into the semi-finals. No longer guaranteed success Ponting is desperate to retain the Champions Trophy and so far so good, as his team are the only outfit yet to taste defeat at the tournament. Their most experienced trio of Lee, Ponting and Hussey have all contributed at vital junctures and if they are to retain the crown they’ll need to continue to lead by example.

The bookies will probably have short odds on an Australia-Pakistan final but you would be foolish to discount the plucky Kiwis or an improving, although probably satisfied, England. What is certain is that the semi-finals will be contested keenly between firm favourites and unlikely underdogs. As long as the dastardly duo of Duckworth and Lewis do not interfere, whatever the outcomes the most deserving teams will advance. And that, in the end, is all we can hope for.

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Responses

  1. How they continually find a way to triumph when more prosperous nations fall is obscure

    They don’t publicise it, but there’s a little bit on the public record about their ODI methods.

    • Love that – thanks, David.

  2. I wish I had seen more of the tournament as it has developed well and, crucially, quickly. England are turning into the Pakistan of old – who knows which England will turn up on Friday.

  3. Watching NZ play has been simple and complex excitement at the one time, the quirkiness of any NZ cricket player is always a tremendous thrill for a spectator, and Vettori’s leadership is Machiavellian , full of spikes and plateaus..

    SO I am hoping, naturally, for a NZ final appearance, I can’t help it, it’s based on nothing more than emotion, but cricket is 80% emotion, if not more.

    India out.. well well well.. …

  4. I’m conflicted, while I want the Aussies to win everything all the time, they have slid through without really playing well and I love Dan the Man and want the Kiwis to win the whole thing. Can they both win?

  5. I can understand people’s enthusiasm for NZ, you’ve got to wish them well, but after McCallums perfomance with the bat against England the other day, the sooner they exit the better in my book. The fact that he made 50 odd I guess indicates he has talent, but wild swinging of the bat at every ball is frankly unpleasant to watch. I can go down the park and watch 6 year olds play like that. It’s why I appreciate Ponting so much, he is just as effective (or, more so), and does it all within the classical style. Hopefully he’ll retire soon and become a 20/20 specialist.
    He seems to be making a habit too of going for dubious runouts when the batsmans not running, but that’s another story.

  6. Pointless, tasteless tournament and I would say this even if India had won it.

    The only bright spot is that Bond is back

    • Why is it a pointless tasteless tournament? It is so much better than the last World Cup it isn’t on the same planet. For three reasons.

      1) It’s short.
      2) The games have been excellent, really good quality and there is only 2 weeks of them.
      3) It’s got the ICC Player of the Year in it AND he only has to play for half a month!

      Yeah, go Mitchie, you aren’t any more shocked at the win than the rest of Australia!

  7. all the teams that got eliminated in the tournament had 2 bad days, not the case with india. You m ight say that india might have floundered against the aussies as well but you never know what pressure can make mincemeat of the opposition in minutes. Had those yorkers of Rana Naved hit the stumps, things would have been different.
    But that is the beauty of such short tournaments which give teams like new zeland a better chance

    • New Zealand have made the semi finals at the last two World Cups (2009 T20 & 2007 ODI) so I’m not sure that the current format gives them any advantage. What it does show is that they play well in big tournaments and they deserve the credit for performing under that pressure.

      • taking nothing from New zealand’s performance, i would still want a team like pakistan , sri lanka in the semis because they would have the firepower to go till the end. Even in a knockout tournament, u require greater skills than the opposition to win consistently. sadly i have never seen that from South africa(nerves) and new zealand(resources).

  8. I’ve really enjoyed this tournament as well. The ODI World Cup should be run in a similar way. Obviously there are more teams in the World Cup but reducing the amount of matches and putting teams under immediate threat of being kicked out makes it far more interesting.

  9. I’m also of the opinion that the tournament format is a good one. Apart from the World Cup the Champions Trophy is the only ODI global tournament so winning it is far more important than any other ODI competition.

    That there is no room for error only makes it more interesting and cut-throat which is welcome considering all the other meaningless series that are played ad nauseaum.

    If I had my way I’d play the Champions Trophy every year the World Cup isn’t played.

    • I like the idea of an annual two week Champions Trophy and an annual two week T20 Tournament. We could then limit other one day cricket to a maximum of three T20 or three ODIs before a Test series. That would avoid player burnout and give two big festivals every year.

  10. The kiwis deserve all the praise for making it to the semis, I do not agree with those who are blaming their teams exit on the format, the format and the conditions were the same for all the teams.

    The Kiwis do have the bowling to upset Pakistan.

    Englands chances will depend on their spinners. England should play Adil Rashid against Australia.

    • If pakistan had won the game against the aussies, it wold have given them a chance to bowl at Centurion which offers some reverse swing. But i still think Pakistan will cruise through because they have done so in the past
      1992 WC SF
      1999 WC SF
      2007 T20 WC SF
      The only good game game kiwis played was against lankans. Don;t count england game because of the pitch

      • Any pitch where Collingwood gets 40, Bopara gets 30 and Sidebottom gets 20 cannot be as bad as the English press want you to believe. New Zealand bowled much better than England and should have been given the praise they deserve.

        • Bollix to that JimDavis, it was only Anderson and Broad who bowled well in that match.

          Or so I read.

          The Kiwis are doing remarkably well as they don’t have the fat boy with the tash or fragile jake. Two lads they must really miss in terms of slugging but then again their tail seems to get longer with every replacement they call up.

          Now that the Ozzies have won, I am hoping that the Kiwis do in their S/F as well as they’ll fight till their noses bleed against any Aussie team.

      • Venkat

        Pakistan’s bowlers will like the conditions at wanderes much better than Centurion but the batsmen will dread it.

        New Zealand doesn’t have the batting they have gotten some reinforcement in shape of Styris but at the cost of probably their best bowler Elliott.

        If they can upset England at Wanderers they can upset Pakistan also, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be given the credit for their victory against England, both teams played the match on the same ground:)

        • You can find similar trait between india and sri lanka. they are good in defending totals but whenever they chase in finals( WC 2003 AND WC 2007) they lost. I think opposition teams have utilized this thing to great effect. The problem with Pakistan is that they don’t have any set format while playing. This unpredictable factor does help them if they reach semis or finals.

  11. looks like england are going the way west indies did in Champions trophy 2006 final. Thats what differs good teams from great teams. you should not be overawed by the occasion and play casually.

  12. Ah, that’s better. England playing at their true level.
    Ponting is just incredible, his batting has such an air of inevitability.
    I really wish SA was in the final, if they were on their game, it would have been reminiscent of those amazing test contests recently. Still, both NZ and Pak can do the job on the day.
    Paine behind the stumps! Where do they grow them?

    • Paine is playing well and is wonderfully nifty behind the stumps. I had got used to Haddin’s thorough going ordinariness. When he comes back, his sloppiness is going to make me wince.

    • I really do think that Punter would have batted Aus to a win at The Oval had he not been run out. He’s been in awesome form since then. England outclassed yet again.

      I do like the look of Paine and, he seems, like the best ‘keepers, to concentrate on a very difficult job rather than the opposition.

  13. There is a story from Hindu Mythology about Prince Abhimanyu. Chakravyuh was a battle formation which was very hard to break and few knew how to do it. When Abhimanyu was in his mother’s womb, his mother listened to a talk on breaking this formation but slept when the talk was going on how to return to your original position.
    In war Abhimanyu was able to break the formation but was not able to return back to his post and lost his life.

    I find teams like England in the same position as Abhimanyu, able to break the initial shackles but not able to go till the end.

  14. kannan, interesting story, and you’re right, it sums up England. Falling asleep at the critical point in the story sounds like them! We know now not to trust their good form to last.
    It seems they try to play a symphony when they can barely read music. Australia makes sure they get the basics right, which is hard enough, and flourishes come after that. Watson hit 3 sixes in an over, but only after he’d scored a ton to secure the game. You can call them pedestrian, and grinding if you like, but it’s better than deluded and nieve. Strauss’s comment “live by the sword die by the sword” sums it up, does he see himself as some sort of dashing musketeer, going out in a blaze of glory?
    I suppose Haddin is going come back in, but is that certain?
    Australia did this without Haddin, Clarke and Bracken, pretty impressive. The only down side was that it was a bit concerning they couldn’t take care of Bresnan. That one wicket could have lost them the game. Although I suspect even if he had scored a double century, Ponting would have scored a triple in response.

  15. Really been enjoying watching Ponting. Awesome.

    Also impressed with Paine. I’d much rather see him in tests than Haddin. Maybe he wouldn’t be as solid a batsman, but I also can’t imagine him taking off a glove and throwing it at the ball like Haddin did in India.

  16. Same here. Haddin is going to have to pick his job up behind the stumps markedly, which if he does, will only help the team.

    Paine has done so much better than I expected with the bat as well. He hasn’t seemed over-awed yet. His keeping yesterday was excellent and all with a big smile on his face. He is about 10, isn’t he?

    About Strauss, I actually think that he has the right attitude in terms of positive batting. It will not come off all the time, but it is far better to at least take the game to the opposition.

  17. I watched the highlights and I felt as though I spent the whole time saying ‘oh, beautiful shot’ in unison with the commentators about Punter’s dreamy strokemaking. He looks back to his absolute best.

  18. And the Kiwis are on the march. They have done brilliantly considering they lose a player a game to injury. Dan Vettori certainly has a big game temperament. Can’t he just move to Oz?

    Big game on Monday. They have given the Aussies a few whippings and will be desperate to inflict another.

    Oh dear, I must look at this as a win, win situation.


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