Posted by: nestaquin | October 5, 2009

Champions Trophy 2009: The Final Preview

Ponting and Vettori with Champions TrophySeldom does an ICC tournament come to a close without some controversy or criticism yet this version of the 2009 Champions Trophy has had neither from an administrative point of view. Originally scheduled in Pakistan, the South Africans have put on a wonderful show that delivered exactly what the Champions Trophy was intended; to showcase 50 over cricket to the world.

Played in only two stadia the conditions have been contrasting. Generally, The Wanderers has assisted the bowling and Centurion the batting and with most teams playing at both venues this has made for a well balanced tournament where bowling and batting have both had stern examinations.

The shortened format, where almost every game has influence and consequence, has been welcome and exciting. Hopefully the ICC will understand that the cricketing public are not enthusiastic about overblown tournaments with irrelevant matches and consider this and amend the 2011 World Cup fixtures so that the premier limited-over event doesn’t resemble the farce of the previous version in the Caribbean.

The ruthless format has guaranteed that the two most deserving teams are appearing in the final and an intriguing contest it should prove to be. Logic and history strongly suggests that Australia should win comfortably but if the previous Chappell/Hadlee Trophy is any indicator then the favourites may not have it all their own way.

That series was tied two a piece and the hosts Australia were very lucky indeed to escape in the deciding game of the five match series. The rain affected ‘Gabba match was abandoned just one over short of the required minimum with New Zealand well ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis calculation. Australia got to keep the coveted silverware because they had won the previous series but it wasn’t deserved as their opponents had played the better cricket throughout the series.

Vettori and his men were bitterly disappointed on that stormy night in Brisbane and they’ll believe that they can compete and even defeat their more prosperous Trans-Tasman rivals this time around especially with the reintroduction of Shane Bond who has destroyed Australia regularly during his truncated career.

Incredibly, Bond takes a wicket every 18 balls against Australia and averages around 13 in 11 matches. He is the key to New Zealand’s chances for if he can do what he has done in previous encounters, decimate Australia’s top order, New Zealand will be well on their way to an historic victory.

From memory, Kyle Mills, Martin Guptill and Grant Elliot played very well in the last Chappell/Hadlee Series and with the classy dynamism of Ross Taylor and the crafty bowling and leadership of Daniel Vettori, the Black Caps can feel confident of causing a major upset tonight in Centurion.

From the Australian perspective nothing less than a win will suffice. Their batting is deep and versatile and the bowling led by a resurgent Brett Lee has done the job in every match this tournament. Obviously, Ponting is the prize wicket and if he is at crease for 20 overs the Champions Trophy should be safe in Australia’s keeping for another few years.

Lastly, this tournament has shown that there is a place for 50 over cricket in the global context of the game. With the introduction of the Powerplays the tactical element within the middle overs has gained intrigue and it is a perfect fit between the patient stratagem of Tests and the helter-skelter of T20 cricket. However, the ICC and the respective national boards need to understand that when it comes to ODIs the old axiom that less is more rings true. Both players and spectators are tired of meaningless matches tacked onto Test series and would prefer regular ODI contests with consequence, history and prestige.

It is relatively simple to implement. All the administrators need to do is commission trophies in the name of a previous great and keep it untainted by sponsor’s names. Play series for the prize on a regular basis and over time the contests will gain the public’s affection and attention much like the recently created Chappell/Hadlee Trophy and from a Test match perspective, the Border/Gavaskar Trophy.

To further make the point, Australia will visit India later this month to contest a seven match ODI series. I’ve no idea why or what they are playing for. Do you? Now imagine if there was a shiny trophy named the Kapil Dev Cup that Australia and India played for home and away on a regular basis. Wouldn’t that excite the synapses and increase the blood pressure for both player and fan alike? It certainly would create a hype and hysteria that can never be achieved by a meaningless series in an already crowded cricketing calendar.

Image [Getty]

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Responses

  1. Now imagine if there was a shiny trophy named the Kapil Dev Cup that Australia and India played for home and away on a regular basis. Wouldn’t that excite the synapses and increase the blood pressure for both player and fan alike?

    Not for me. I like these isolated ODI series in India, because it means that the Test tours don’t have the 50-over distractions before or afterwards. I have Foxtel now, so I will probably watch some of the games rather than ignoring them completely, but I expect that in a few years I will have forgotten the results, just as I had no idea what the history of the Chappell-Hadlee winners looked like (before I looked it up just now).

    I am not sure that the Chappell-Hadlee series is evoking that much public affection. Haven’t there been grumblings about them being meaningless fixtures shoved into the calendar wherever it’ll fit? Last summer the Kiwis toured for Tests, so the Chappell-Hadlee’s existence made some sense.

    And on another topic…

    The ruthless format has guaranteed that the two most deserving teams are appearing in the final

    What sort of tournament format doesn’t do this, using your definition of ‘deserving’?

  2. I have , again, and as usual , been completely buggered about by the wretched change over of clocks to ‘summer time’ in my state , NSW, in AU. So here I am. Either I am an hour early or an hour late, it will take me weeks to get a grip on it, how I loathe and deplore this time stuffingaround.

    I am betting that South Africa hasn’t changed to ‘summer time’, since it’s spring in the Southern Hemisphere, but that means not a jot to the clock fixers, oh no.

    Well. Daniel Vettori has had his curly locks trimmed to bristles and has been steadily growing his beard since this tournament began, which in Vettori World means business of a particularly concentrated flavour. Dan with a beard, his vow to not shave has always meant a bit of the rough end of the pineapple for any and all opponents.

    Ricky, on the other hand , I expect to see him stroll out shaved to a faretheewell, sprucely turned up and buttoned collar, and this in Ricky World means exactly the same thing. Business of a particularly concentrated sort, so , soon as I get the clock shite figured out, it’s ON and I am ready.

  3. Vettori out, injured.. so much for my Beard Theory

  4. Extremely annoyed that NZ cannot keep their players fit. Regardless of our own injury list, it means any victory will be hollow and I’ll not be able to rub my kiwi friends noses in it quite as much, while a loss will be talked about for generations to come.

  5. What has happened to Punter’s ability with the coin these last 12 months?

  6. Vettori is a huge loss for the Kiwis. A wicket and some tight bowling already has the Kiwis looking shaky.

    14/1 (7)

  7. NZ seem to have three ways to win this – McCullum has gone early, Taylor is sitting on his hands in the Pavilion, so Bond is going to have to take 5 wickets at least.

    Such a shame about Dan.

  8. Why are they wearing red ribbons on their arms?

  9. I dont know what they are about with the red ribbons.. it’s Bob Geldorfs birthday??

    not enough runs, over rate too slow, unless Bond and Elliot and Butler and Mills turn themselves inside out for over after over…

    a bit disappointed by NZ, not taking anything away from the AU bowlers and fielders, but I did expect NZ to bang on a bit more than they did.

    not over yet, though.

  10. 44 dot balls for a sick Siddle. Ran out of steam for his last 9 balls. He was 43 dot balls out of 51 at one stage. Still a great effort.

    Australia’s innings could get interesting if the start is not the best – Ferguson is down with a bung ankle and Siddle is ill.

  11. Awesome performance.

    Had Flintoff not thrown out Punter at The Oval, I think they would have got over the line – look how they’ve played since.

    Looks like Hughes and Watson to open for the next five years!

  12. Excellent win in a much tighter match than the scoreboard suggests. Watson’s brace of sixes to bring up his ton and the win finished the tournament in style.

    The white jackets were a nice touch and I’m sure that there would have been more than the odd Benaud impersonation taking place on the podium.

    Cam White’s innings was very important in context as was all the bowling which was superb.

    Order has been restored in ODIs. I presume the team is on top of the rankings after dominating for the last two weeks and should be roundly recognised as the best until the next World Cup.

    Next, the Champions League which should be very interesting. I suppose one of the Indian teams will be favourite but don’t discount NSW. They are proud and strong and I expect them to be very competitive.


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