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From critical tool to an unnatural death

india Updated: May 31, 2013 11:58 IST
Rohit Bhaskar
Rohit Bhaskar
Hindustan Times
Jagmohan Dalmiya

It may seem bewildering today, but when Jagmohan Dalmiya first conceptualised the Champions Trophy (earlier known as the ICC KnockOut, and earlier as the ICC Mini World Cup) during his tenure as ICC president, the plan was to use it as a tool to globalise cricket and take the sport to new markets.

In fact, there were serious talks to host the initial edition at Florida’s Disney World. Ironically, in the years since, the tournament has received Mickey Mouse treatment at the hands of the powers that be.

The viewer-friendly format of T20 means that if the ICC does have global ambitions, T20 is the way to go. A fact that renders obsolete the mission statement of the Champions Trophy… not that the ICC was following it anyway (after awarding the first two editions to Bangladesh and Kenya, the tournament has been hosted by Sri Lanka, England, India and South Africa. Not what you would call emerging cricket markets!)

Unnatural death?

With its crisp format and restriction to Test-playing nations, the Champions Trophy remains the antithesis to the ODI World Cup - which is two-months long and has a glut of 'meaningless' matches between Test nations and Associates before the real action begins.

Which isn’t to say that the organisation of the Champions Trophy has always been impeccable, remember 2004? The last time the Champions Trophy was held in England, it was slotted in September --- when the English cricket season is winding, and the pitches and weather are not really conducive to top-quality cricket.

In his eloquent speech at the Bradman Oration in Canberra in 2011, Rahul Dravid had drawn up a blueprint for the authorities to ensure that cricket’s three formats co-exist, and flourish.

On the ODI format, he said, “The 50-over format focussed around fewer, significant multi-nation ICC events like the Champions Trophy and World Cup. In the four-year cycle between World Cups, plan the ODI calendar and devise rankings around these few important events. Anything makes more sense than a seven-match ODI series.”

But, with the ICC now bringing the curtain on one of its successful, money-spinning events, seven-match bilateral ODI series is just what you will get!

In memory

From the outset, the tournament has seen its share of memorable performances -- a 23-year-old Jacques Kallis mutilating Muttiah Muralitharan in the semis of the inaugural edition with his 100-ball 113, and following it up with a lethal spell of 5/30 against the West Indies in the final. Chris Cairns’ magical ton against India in the 2000 final.

Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne's unbeaten 71-run ninth wicket stand to seal West Indies' triumph in the 2004 final.

It’s also seen its share of silly moments, none more than the happenings at the trophy dais after the 2006 final, won by Australia.

The Ricky Ponting-led Aussies were deemed to have shoved Sharad Pawar off the dais after he handed over the trophy, which caused a furore in India and saw one donkey get the ultimate compliment, being labelled Damien Martyn, him of the dashing good looks and classy cover drives. Or wait, was it the other way around?