Champions Trophy

The ICC Champions Trophy is back! Since the Cricket World Cup and the T20 World Cup are going to happen every fourth year instead of every second, it is good to have some other tournaments to hold us over until there is more international cricket action.

On this page you will find information on the ICC Champions Trophy, its history, our betting tips and predictions for the matches, previews and the latest betting odds.

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This year’s Champions Trophy is guaranteed to be historical, as it is the last time this much maligned competition is too be played. (update: ICC is back on the menu boys!)

The reason why it is the last one? Because the ICC have decided that there is no need for two 50 over competitions any more, instead deciding that one major championship per a cricketing format is more than enough. This leaves us with the ICC Cricket World Cup (50 Overs), ICC World T20, and the World Test Championship.

The reason why I started by saying it is a much maligned competition is due to the eventful history of the tournament. It started out in 1998 as the idea of Jagmohan Dalmiya, who was ICC President during this time (1997-2000), and was meant to be a way of taking cricket to the emerging cricketing nations, and raising money in the process.

The 1998 tournament was held in Dhaka and was known as the ICC KnockOut Trophy, and/or the Wills International Cup. It was contested by the nine test playing teams at the time, Australia, New Zealand, England, West Indies, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.

New Zealand beat Zimbabwe in a preliminary qualifier and then joined the remaining seven teams in a straight knock out competition eventually won by South Africa, who beat West Indies in the final.

It wasn’t a well received competition, the tournament nearly never happened in Bangladesh due to flooding, and it was played on poor ODI surfaces by less than enthusiastic teams – namely England, who only sent over a shadow squad.

The 2000 tournament was held in Nairobi, Kenya. Again it wasn’t without controversy as crowds were scarce, this was put down to excessive prices (to the locals). The tournament was also described as a missed opportunity to promote cricket in the wider African region.

Again, it was a straight knock-out, this time made up of eleven teams, with Kenya and Bangladesh added to the nine present at the inaugural competition two years earlier. This time six teams had to play preliminary qualifiers to make it through to the quarter-finals, with England, India and Sri Lanka making it through at the expense of Kenya, Bangladesh and West Indies.

New Zealand went on to win the tournament at the expense of India thanks to a century by Chris Cairns. It is the Kiwi’s only international title to date.

2002 seen the format change to four groups of 3 to accommodate more nations. Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, England, India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, West Indies, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Netherlands all took part. The winners of all four groups played in the semi-finals.

As was the norm by this time, more controversy came with the competition as it was played within 5 months of the main 50 Over world cup. It was held in Sri Lanka after the original plans to play it in India had to be abandoned due to not being able to resolve tax issues with the Indian authorities.

On top of that, there was contractual disputes pre tournament with teams threatening not to turn up, TV technology in making decisions was (poorly) experimented with for the first time, and after two attempts to play the final failed, the trophy was shared between Sri Lanka and India.

Ironically there was over 100 Overs bowled in the two abandoned attempts at playing the final, and such was the playing regulations at the time, a winner couldn’t be declared. All in all it was a pretty shambolic episode.

Onto the 2004 competition held in England, and a slightly better affair in my view – although the media didn’t think so. By this stage though, unless the tournament was a resounding success, it was always going to get panned by the press due to its less than perfect past.

One valid criticism (in my view) was the lateness in the year that the competition was played at, my lasting memory of the final – which was a good one in fairness – was the sight of it finishing in near darkness. The fact that the tournament had to be shoehorned in at the end of the English summer suggested that it wasn’t high on the priority list. And with the benefit of hindsight, the writing was probably on the wall for the future of the tournament as a whole back then.

Onto the playing side of things, and West Indies defeated England in a memorable final. England all but had the game won, seemingly took their foot off the West Indies’ throats, and then paid the price as the visitors came back and won the title with an eighth wicket partnership of 71 runs.

The format was again four groups of 3, with the United States instead of the Netherlands, the only change to the twelve countries that contested the 2002 Trophy (again with the four groups winners contesting the semi-finals).

Crowds were again scarce with tickets well overpriced, and coming at the end of an English season, in which fans had already spent a fortune watching cricket. There was also rows about marketing and sponsorship issues, etc. And to top it all off, the English weather typically wasn’t the best. Again, not a great advert for cricket, but slightly better than what had gone on in previous tournaments.

2006 saw the tournament held in Mumbai, India. Like in 2002, there were tax issues, which were resolved this time. The tournament again wasn’t greeted with any major enthusiasm by the paying public, as in general the Indian fans stayed away.

There was a change to the playing format as Sri Lanka and West Indies won a round robin qualifying group – Zimbabwe and Bangladesh missed out – to join Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, South Africa and England in the final eight.

The format was then two groups of four, with the top two qualifying for the semi-finals. Australia and West Indies qualified from Group A, New Zealand and South Africa from Group B, meaning that no team from the Indian continent managed to get out of either of their groups.

Controversy surrounded eventual winners Australia (they beat West Indies in a shortened final), who’s behaviour on the podium when receiving the trophy led to plenty of criticism.

Aussie captain Ricky Ponting ended up apologising for his teams behaviour after Damien Martyn was seen to give BCCI President Sharad Pawar a helpful nudge off the podium, after he had handed over the trophy to the Australians in a less than dignified manner (Ponting is supposed to have tapped Pawar on the shoulder and gestured to him to hurry up).

On winning the Champions Trophy in 2006, Australia claimed the only title that had previously eluded them.

The next competition was held in 2009 in South Africa, and again it arrived with controversy – this time more than ever. The competition was originally supposed to have been played in Pakistan in 2008, but several countries made it clear that they wouldn’t tour the country for security reasons.

The Pakistani authorities didn’t react with the greatest of enthusiasm at attempts to move the tournament away from the country, or to their fellow (ICC) member countries who indicated their reluctance to participate in the competition if it was held in Pakistan.

It turned into a bit of a farce in the end, with the ICC still insisting the competition would go ahead in Pakistan less than a month ahead of its scheduled start. This was despite several countries expressing their reservations, and various players unions advising their members not to go.

While all this was going on, the same various home cricket boards were trying their best to get out of taking the decision to pull out, due to financial concerns brought about because they feared they might be breaking their contracts. South Africa eventually broke rank and became the first country to announce they wouldn’t be going.

Eventually the competition got put back 12 months, in which time the ICC hoped that the security situation in Pakistan would improve. Unfortunately the situation in Pakistan got worse, as the Sri Lankan team were victims of a terrorist attack on their way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore to play a Test match in March, 2009.

This finally put an end to the debate, and ended months of speculation about the location of the Champions Trophy, with the ICC announcing later in March 2009 that they would recommend moving the tournament to South Africa, with the South Africans confirming this shortly afterwards in April.

Events on the pitch seen Australia successfully defend their title with a comfortable victory over New Zealand in the final, thanks to a century from Shane Watson.

The round robin format was again used in the group section, with two groups of four made up of Australia, Pakistan, India and West Indies in Group A. And England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa in Group B, with the top two from each group contesting the semi-finals (England, Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand).

After the 2009 tournament the international calender was getting fuller and fuller. This has led to the 2013 competition in England being the last one, and thankfully so in my view. In summing up the Champions Trophy in general, it reminds me of a flogged horse, that needs putting out of it’s misery.

It has had a fairly difficult existence and has basically been the poor relations of ICC tournaments. Hopefully it will get a good send off in England, and can be put to rest with some positive memoires.

The signs are good at the moment. There has been no major hassle in the build up, and it is thankfully being played in the middle of the English season, rather than being shoehorned in at the end.

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