September 29, 2009

Mike Holmans

What's the point of the Champions Trophy?

Mike Holmans


As yet, at least, fans haven't decided that the Champions Trophy is a prestige tournament. © AFP
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A lot of people took me to task after my last post, in which I suggested that it was a bit odd that most cricket fans don't rate the Champions Trophy very highly, many accusing me of English sour grapes. I was clearly underestimating Asian interest in the tournament, but Chris from Australia commented that there was zero interest in Australia, and when I checked the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age websites immediately afterwards, they still had the Ashes logo on their cricket pages - which still devoted far more attention to deconstructing Australia's Ashes loss than to prospects for the CT. And Australia are the holders.

Some people suggested that ICC needs to give the CT more prestige. I get the idea, but I'm not sure that prestige can be magically bestowed by the powers that be. ICC tried that with their idea of a Super Series of ODIs and a “Test” between the top-ranked country and the Rest of the World, at which the world's cricket public blew a resounding raspberry. Throwing oodles of cash into the prize pot doesn't do it either, as Allen Stanford found before he was arrested. The point is that prestige is not in the gift of the authorities: it is we, the fans and supporters, who confer prestige on tournaments and series. And as yet, at least, we haven't decided that the CT is a prestige tournament.

I think the problem is that we don't know what it's for. We have a 50-over World Cup already, and we're very happy to think that World Cup is a huge deal.

A World Cup happens every four years – as it does in many other sports, especially those involving inflated leather balls. Four years is a good interval because it basically ensures that there will be a different cast of characters even if the team names remain the same. Last time's Grand Old Men have retired, the then-established stars have moved into GOM-hood, some of the up-and-comers are now the leading players and there are some new faces just making their way. Each World Cup is a whole new adventure.

Contrast this with the CT going on three months after the World Twenty20; Tendulkar, Dravid and Strauss are playing in this after not being included in the Twenty20, but otherwise the differences between the teams which were in England and these ones have mostly come about through injuries (or, in the case of West Indies, total meltdown). Yes, it's a longer format and the results haven't always gone the same way, but it's felt awfully like the slo-mo replay taken to a whole-tournament level.

It's not that it hasn't been entertaining, or that we haven't learned anything. No-one had previously had any inkling that England had any idea how to play 50-over cricket, so their performance against South Africa was a discovery on a par with finding a new planet orbiting the sun. Nor, at a less mind-boggling level, had most of us realised that the final authority on run-out decisions is the fielding captain.

But was it really necessary to mount a whole tournament for the same old eight teams to make these additions to the sum of human knowledge?

In football, when England fail to win the World Cup, they can go off and fail to win the European Nations Cup, a tournament obviously smaller than and different to the World Cup but still big enough to garner its own level of prestige. India can finish out of the medals at the Olympic hockey and then make a mess of the Commonwealth Games, a lesser but still obviously significant event. But cricket's problem is that there aren't enough top teams to have a multiplicity of top-team tournaments without inducing terminal deja vu.

Perhaps what we need rather than the Champions Trophy are two quasi-regional tournaments. One would be for Asia-Pacific, involving India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand plus Afghanistan and UAE, while the Atlantic Cup could be for West Indies, England, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Netherlands, Namibia and Kenya (or such other European, American and African countries as qualified).

Obviously the Asia-Pacific one would be far more prestigious and have a much larger audience, but the Atlantic Cup would give more of the emerging nations serious competition, which might make future World Cups even more interesting. Most of all, though, it would be fascinating to see how South Africa could contrive to get knocked out at an early stage.

Now, I really must get back to eating those sour grapes.

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Posted by nathan on (October 28, 2009, 15:40 GMT)

australia is an inspired team if it loses an one day means its upsurd bcoz we know our indboys capacity

Posted by Daa on (October 27, 2009, 11:04 GMT)

I understand Ireland's situation in England gaining two quality players in Ed Joyce and Eion Morgan. If Ireland were elevated to Test level say for a year, and played every Test nation, I doubt they would win. At home they have a 1000 to 1 chance of winning in the opposition's favour, away they have a million to one. Pakistan had an off day. Every team has an off day. I think that Ireland could only win if they had all their quality players with them. England's team is effectively an England and Wales team. I think every country should have it's own team. (I'm talking to the West Indies Cricket Board) I respect any team that plays international cricket. To get to that level at any age playing for any country is a big achievement. It'd be harder in countries like the Netherlands casue there are virtually no cricket clubs. Anyone who plays international cricket should be respected. Stop all of this arguing.

Posted by Rob Quin on (October 15, 2009, 21:52 GMT)

Arsad, that is true our performance in Bangladesh was disappointing, but that was our first trip there and a great learning experience. Better will be expected next time we meet. I would have thought you would welcome Ireland to Test Cricket seeing as you may have some competition now the Windes dispute is over. Fact: Bangladesh Test Played 61 Test Won 3. (2 wins against Windies without contracted players) Fact: Sachin Tendulkar Average in tests v Bangladesh 139.00 Sachin Tendulkar Ave ODI v Bangladesh 44.25 Sachin Tendulkar Ave ODI v Ireland 4. That leaves one legitimate Test win v Zimbabwe ever in 58 Tests. Total Victories v Ireland in a Neutral Venue for Bangladesh 0. Total Excuses Plenty.

Posted by Arsad bin Saylav on (October 15, 2009, 19:49 GMT)

@ Rob Quin, u guys defeated a 3rd string bangla team. What about the other 3 ODIs that Bangladesh & Ireland played. BANGLADESH HAMMERED IRELAND WITH THE HUGE MIRGINS OF 8 WICKETS(18 ovs to spare), 85 RUNS & 123 RUNS respectevely. So minnows cut the crap

Posted by Arsad bin Saylav on (October 15, 2009, 19:35 GMT)

@Rob Quin, Bangladesh Bowlers have 2 take wickets of Ponting, Tendulkar & other legends. Not like Ireland bowlers taking wkts of Bermuda & other mediocre associate team batsmans. I think as a irish u dont know what is TESTcricket & where is IC cup cricket

Posted by Arsad bin Saylav on (October 15, 2009, 19:17 GMT)

@Rob Quin, Bangladesh players score runs & take wickets against Australia, S Africa & other tough teams. Not like the Irish players who scores runs & take wkts against Bermuda or Zimbabwe A. Avereging 15 in Test cricket is equal with 45 in IC cup games

Posted by Rob Quin on (October 14, 2009, 7:42 GMT)

Arsad you have ONE batsman who averages over thirty in tests, and only just and he is 36, and two bowlers with Test averages under thirty and one of those has only played two games !!!! Now England are trying to take Boyd Rankin. All you have are excuses we beat you twice and we'd beat you in test.

Posted by Arsad bin Saylav on (October 9, 2009, 12:52 GMT)

@ Rob Quin, with that kind of bowling attack of IRELAND with slow medium pacers & low quality spinners. IRELAND will not be able 2 all out a Test team in full 5 days. IRELAND dont have the bowlers to take wkts @ TEST LEVEL. IC & TEST cricket isnt the same

Posted by Arsad bin Saylav on (October 9, 2009, 12:48 GMT)

WTF Rob Quin, u think beating teams like BERMUDA & playing the test teams is same. TEST matches arent T20 circus where by luck u can beat a 3rd string Bangla team. Even 1st class teams of Bangladesh like Dhaka, Khulna will hammer Ireland in a 4 day match

Posted by vicky300787 on (October 4, 2009, 17:28 GMT)

happened in Barbados in at the last WC, or is there an excuse for that pitch also ? To say Ireland could not win a Test match in 100, is just foolish, we have some quality under 19's virtually all of whom have been signed to English Counties. All we lack is experience and opportunity. FYI Arsad IRELAND have not lost a game in the Intercontinental in four years the highest level of 4 day comp available to us. Arsad, please Irish fans know a lot about Test Cricket, we are situated right next to England, all English Test games are broadcast in Ireland. Many of us have attended Tests involving other country's. Obviously you are scarred to face Ireland in a Test Match. You couldn't beat us on a neutral venue at the 07 WC and you couldn't beat us at the T20 WC despite us having little experience at T20. On what basis do you think you could beat us in a Test ?

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