September 21, 2009

Mike Holmans

Why don't we like the Champions Trophy?

Mike Holmans



Over the next couple of weeks, I expect I shall watch at least some of the Champions Trophy coverage on TV. After all, I'm a cricket junkie and the English season finishes this week, so I've nothing else to watch until April. And, since you are enough of a cricket junkie to be reading a blog on a cricket website, it's pretty likely that you will also be tuning in at some point.

TV companies know that there are many people round the world like us who will watch any international cricket, almost whatever it is, and are therefore willing to part with money for the broadcast rights, and the ICC then spends that money on what it considers to be worthy causes. Slaking our appetite for the game provides money to help develop the game around the world (though why they pour money into salvaging Zimbabwe when West Indies are in danger of collapse passes my understanding), so it seems beneficial all round.

But nobody seems to care very much about who wins it.

This may simply be the perspective of an England fan who knows that his team don't stand an earthly chance and will be doing exceptionally well if they win any of their three games, but I don't detect any groundswell of anticipation amongst the fans of other teams I see on my travels round the net. A 50-over World Cup always stimulates a pre-tournament buzz, but the Champions Trophy generates a tidal wave of indifference.

Like a lot of people, I can tell you which country won any World Cup and where (though not necessarily which ground the final was at). But apart from West Indies winning in England in 2004 which I remember because I was giving daily bulletins to my father as he lay dying in hospital, I have no idea which team won any of the other editions of the Champions Trophy, or even when they were.

Which is odd, if you think about it.

It is a much more efficient way of determining the top team at 50-over tournament cricket than the World Cup with its Scotlands and Bermudas. Adding all the no-hope teams to the World Cup simply expands it without changing the destination of the winners' trophy but allows for the possibility of embarrassment in the early rounds. Just as it is (or would be) amusing if Manchester United exit the FA Cup by losing to a semi-pro team or Roger Federer gets beaten in the first round at Wimbledon by a British wild-card entrant currently ranked 793rd in the world, we can all have a good laugh when one of the major teams gets knocked out in the group stage of a cricket World Cup. If nothing else, it relieves the tedium of the early stages which seem to consist mostly of mismatches.

But the Champs Trophy is what the final stages of a World Cup would look like if none of the major teams tripped over the banana-skin in their qualifying group. It's the business end, the nitty gritty, the chase which is cut to when we start paying close attention to a World Cup instead of just checking that nothing out of the ordinary happened. It's the World Cup without the boring bits. If there were any justice, we'd take a lot more interest and give a lot more weight to the Champions Trophy, but there isn't and we don't.

Instead, we treat it more as an inconvenience, a distraction from whatever the real business of our teams is supposed to be at any given time, and we want it over and out of the way as soon as is practical. What a strange lot we cricket fans are.

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Posted by Mansoor Ali on (October 3, 2009, 11:42 GMT)

Champions trophy should be played in single league. That would add to the interest of the people plus teams who seem to be unlucky every time like India and South Africa can be tested evenly as they may find equal chance to prove their capability. I think 1992 world cup cricket's format was ideal

Posted by greyblazer on (October 1, 2009, 3:46 GMT)

Chris,

KP played 54 tests without a break and rarely ever failed. He also played in most of the onedayers before he got injured.

So can you explain me the statement of him playing in one match and resting in 4???

Posted by Shahid Z on (September 26, 2009, 22:37 GMT)

Well i live in UK and to be honest I am really disappointed over lack of interest here about cricket in media. Unlike to sub continent, here coverage is given to football ( m not against football) but everyday football this is really too much. We asians we love cricket,it is in our blood, we have always magicians like imran,wasim,waqar, gr8 batsmen,this list will goon in future too. In UK cricket is treated like step child or of no importance. How can u think that young generation would learn to love this sports? cricket future is grimm here in UK and very bright in PAK, IND,SL even in BAN..

Posted by Richard S on (September 24, 2009, 12:43 GMT)

I love it how some people jump on anything to have a dig at England. I think the point of the article is that the Champions Trophy should be looked forward to more than the world cup but it isn't and becuase we already have a World Cup it doesn't really serve a purpose. This is all true and we should all agree. I dont agree that England don't take ODI's seriously, we do, or why else would we try so many different players. Its just that because of the time of year domestic one dayers are played in England we don't produce enough sloggers and therefore fall behind teams used to no swing and flat tracks. Having seen the amount of swing on offer in the Pakistan V WIndies game however, I quite fancy the chances of a team with Anderson and Onions opening the bowling.

[Mike: I'm glad someone has understood the point of the post.]

Posted by Rehan Faruqi on (September 24, 2009, 11:41 GMT)

Looking at the Champions Trophy fixtures one would think why it is called a Champions Trophy when all the top teams are not facing each other? To add some prestige to the Tournament I personally feel that only Top 6 ODI Teams should play round robin matches and then Top 2 Teams of the table should play best of three to decide who is the real champion.

Posted by dragqueen 1 on (September 23, 2009, 16:43 GMT)

to answer the OP's. we hate the CT because it's no such thing. in a sport where only 8 nations matter holding a tournament with those 8 nations playing each & calling it a Champions Trophy is disingenuous at best. i don't have a problem with the concept as such but in a sport with so few major nations any more than 4 is to many.

Posted by MartinAmber on (September 23, 2009, 16:11 GMT)

This is easy to answer: the antipathy towards the Champions Trophy surely has its origins in one-day overkill.

The World Cup started in 1975: the very name "World Cup" demands attention and always will. The Champions Trophy, by contrast, is prefixed by "ICC" (which immediately demands a groan or thinly veiled contempt) and was once described by Wisden as "the unwanted stepchild of international cricket."

At a time when T20 is flourishing, Test cricket needs a shot in the arm and the number of ODIs needs reducing, along comes the CT to prove that the ICC are woefully out of touch.

It's a rotten, steaming dirt-heap of a tournament, and it depresses the hell out of me to think that we have a surfeit of World T20s and a regular World Cup, yet after 132 years we have no World Test Championship but have evolved the Great Cricketing White Elephant instead.

Posted by Sunilaiya on (September 23, 2009, 15:20 GMT)

I do not know why everybody seems to be sucking up to the IPL (T20 with big cash rewards0 - Modi and the bandwagon have baited all the top cricketers with dollars to the point that champion English cricketers do not even want to play for their country but wud rather bungee jump - our captain (I am sri lankan) made a big fuss when Younis did not walk after edging the ball but kept his mouth shut when Youvraj did the same in Colombo - he even offered Tendulkar a runner just becos he was tired - this is classic sucking up to India becos of the cash offered - do not offend anyone who is attached to your bank account - I say, tell the IPL to play without international cricketers and then nobody will even cross the street to watch the matches and the cricketers from other countries will immediately get patriotic and play 50 over cricket for their countries - after all there will be no 'poor' cricketers even without the IPL - this is pure greed !!!!

Posted by Rajesh Kumar R on (September 23, 2009, 13:47 GMT)

As I watch the West Indies Pakistan match and write this, Iam sure this is last thing ICC wanted to see. As they say Change is the only constant in life. It is an innate human tendency to appreciate good things in life. Once exposed to the good things, the things which we used to appreciate or enjoy earlier, no longer has its charm. This is what has happened to 50 over cricket- it was the best thing for cricket until 20 Over game arrived. The first nail on the ODI Coffin was when India won the T20 world cup in 2007. The second nail has been that of the cash rich IPL. One more blow and ODI will be long dead and gone.I have been a watching cricket since 1976. I must confess that I dont have it in me to watch a 100 over game. The world is constantly changing and so must we. Finally, if the West Indies board does not relent, the ICC must step in and relegate the WI team so that their presence in such tournaments like Champions Trophy does not end in a farce as we see it happening now.

Posted by miraheel on (September 23, 2009, 12:34 GMT)

i am very much looking forward to the champions trophy and so is everyone i know. maybe the english are nt as they cant get over the ashes win recently. i think this is an excellent tournment and better than the 20/20 world cup, i personally am a big fan of 50 overs cricket! go pakistan!

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