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Champions Trophy needs to change its format

With the ICC uncertain of continuing with the 50 overs a side format, this could well be the last Champions Trophy. Sunil Gavaskar comments.

india Updated: Oct 07, 2009 02:05 IST
Sunil Gavaskar

Australia showed just why they are world-beaters by winning the ICC Champions Trophy for the second time in a row and adding it to their cabinet.

With the ICC uncertain of continuing with the 50 overs a side format, this could well be the last Champions Trophy. The Australians now will look to get better in the T20 format where they have surprisingly been lacklustre and clueless and so have bowed out of the two ICC world events in the league stage itself. That is the one trophy they would love to add to the other glittering ones they already have.

This ICC Champions Trophy was followed with more than average interest despite the fans having tasted the excitement of the T20 format. The crowds in South Africa and the sub-continent usually turn out only if their teams are winning and the moment they are knocked out, the public interest dwindles.

The semifinals and the final did bring in the crowds but not the full house that is usually seen at such big events.

Australians took their time to get to the meagre New Zealand total. Maybe, it was because they lost two early wickets and anticipated a sudden collapse as witnessed against Pakistan.

The end justifies the means and the Australians wanted to win at any cost. Though it turned out to be a clinical victory, there was little by way of entertainment for the spectators except in the last few overs.

A better way to ensure that good teams with spectator drawing power stay in contention would be to have the Champions Trophy in round-robin format with two matches played every day. This way, major teams would get to play more than three games, and even if we discount for the odd loss or a washout, they still have enough games to make a comeback and the crowds and TV companies would get their money's worth.

In a shortened format, the emerging teams can always spring a surprise and have one good day under the sun and then lose the momentum as they go further, which does the tournament no good at all.

The other way to ensure that major teams have a comeback chance is to have a 10-team format with two groups of five each. This way, again, all stakeholders will get their money's worth. Be that as it may, this event was dominated by the Australians as only they can. They were superb in all departments of the game and it speaks volumes of the commitment of their players that despite most of them being away from home since May, they were able to raise the standard of their game when it mattered most.

The Indians, on the other hand, had a break for two months but looked listless and tired and went out of the tournament in the first round itself. Yes, there were injuries to key players but somehow the pep that was seen in the last season, when they beat Australia in the Test series and then went to New Zealand and won there, was conspicuous by its absence.

Hopefully, when they are back in familiar environs they will ignite the spark again and give the followers lots to cheer about. In the meanwhile, congrats to Australia.