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ICC Champions Trophy begins on Tuesday

The new-look event with just the best eight teams in the world at two venues in one destination begins with host South Africa taking on ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 finalist Sri Lanka at Centurion.

cricket Updated: Sep 21, 2009 21:40 IST

Blink and you’ll miss it. With 15 matches packed into two weeks of action, there’s no time to settle into the ICC Champions Trophy gently. The new-look event with just the best eight teams in the world at two venues in one destination begins on Tuesday with host South Africa taking on ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 finalist Sri Lanka at Centurion.

A big crowd will be there to see if Graeme Smith and his men can take their first step towards repeating the achievement of the 1998 Proteas and lifting one of the biggest prizes in the game.

ICC President David Morgan is confident of the success of this year’s tournament.

“The ICC, having learned from past programming errors, has scheduled this year’s ICC Champions Trophy with a markedly different format from previous editions,” said Mr Morgan.

“It involves the top eight-ranked sides, it is a short event lasting just 14 days and the prize money is four times what it was in 2006, totaling $4million, which includes a cheque for $2million for the winning team,” he said.

“I am grateful to the people from Cricket South Africa and the ICC for all their good work in putting this tournament together.

“I believe it will be a great success as the best players in the world demonstrate their skills in the 50-over format at international level. I have no doubt the matches will be played in a good spirit and I hope the best team wins.”

Meanwhile, ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat has called on South Africa’s legendary sports-mad population to unfurl their flags and turn up in great numbers to the matches at the Wanderers and Centurion.

“This is one of cricket’s three ‘majors’ and with the various enhancements we have put in place, I am sure the ICC Champions Trophy 2009 will be exciting and remembered with great fondness by all those involved,” said Mr Lorgat.

“It makes me proud, as a South African, to return here to stage this event. I know that the sports-loving people of my country will again be a key component in its success. Tickets have been priced very fairly and we are delighted with how rapidly they have been snapped up. Top players, great venues and enthusiastic South African fans – who could ask for more?”

For the first time the ICC CT will feature only the top eight-ranked sides in the world in the only global multi-team 50-over-a-side tournament between the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean and the next edition of that event, in the Asian sub-continent in two years’ time.

Those teams – Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, host South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies – have been divided into two pools of four, with the top two from each pool progressing to the semi-finals stage.

The action begins on Tuesday with the Proteas in action against Sri Lanka in a day-night encounter at Centurion (the location for the women’s world cup final of 2005) and it will end with a day-night final at the same venue on October 5.

There are still tickets available for some of the matches and they can be purchased primarily through the event website at iccevents.yahoo.com. Fans can also book tickets through Computicket by telephone on +2783 915 8000 or by dropping in to any one of Computicket’s offices at hundreds of locations around South Africa.