June 14, 2013

Five things you didn't know about the Champions Trophy

Sidin Vadukut
Darren Bravo plays one to the off side, India v West Indies, Champions Trophy, Group B, The Oval, June 11, 2013
The Champions Trophy is the only ICC tournament where wicketkeepers are required to do the hokey pokey after every ball  © AFP


One of the great open secrets in cricket is the undeniable fact that the ICC Champions Trophy is the premier tournament in international limited-overs cricket. The ICC Cricket World Cup might have a much larger profile, better mascots, a much less tasteful trophy, and a greater sense of pomp and circumstance. But that tournament is certainly burdened by the mandatory involvement of teams from the lesser cricketing nations, such as Australia. Because of this the World Cup is often blotted by laughably one-sided matches that have little to no impact on the final outcome.

The Champions Trophy has no time for such pointless distractions. Here, unlike in the World Cup, the competition is limited to the finest cricketing nations in the world, and Australia.

But how much do you really know about the Champions Trophy? If you think you know everything about this great competition, think again! Here are five rib-tickling, mind-boggling, face-melting facts about the tournament that is not at all known among cricket fans.

1. When fans watch the ICC Champions Trophy these days the first thought that pops into their mind is often: "Why are England dressed like delegates to a Student's Federation of India conference in Kasaragod in the 1990s?"

This is almost immediately followed by this piece of self-doubt: "Why, if it involves South Africa and New Zealand, is this called the Champions Trophy?"

This is a very valid question. South Africa may seem like ideal participants in an "Almost Champions Trophy". But here they seem out of place. Similarly New Zealand would easily fit into a "Unusually But Somehow Consistently Handsome Cricketers Trophy". But are they Champions? Hardly.

In fact the Trophy is not named for champions but after a Champion. To be precise, it is named after Gregory Trufflebucket Savoy Champion, one of England's greatest pre-war wicketkeeper-batsmen. In 1904, in Champion's last Ashes Test match, he dropped a sitter of a catch with the Aussies just needing one run to win the series. Subsequently, as is English tradition, disappointed English fans set fire to Gregory Champion, enclosed his remains within a small trophy, and then published a newspaper advertisement: "Do you want to earn high income from home? Call Martin now."

This trophy is now called Champion's Trophy.

2. Many fans who watch the Champions Trophy tournament on TV often wonder why the match telecasts often start anywhere from four hours to three days before the actual match. Some people think this is in order to maximise eyeballs and therefore revenues. They are very wrong.

In fact the entire point of this cushion is to accommodate the Sri Lankan national anthem, which is often called "George RR Anthem" in international circles in jest. Indeed the version played before cricket matches is the shorter version. The original full-length version is only played before and during Test matches. It is four hours long without intermission, but there is a secret scene after the credits.

3. Speaking of anthems, keen observers may have noticed that Australia and New Zealand not only have the same national anthem but also identical national flags and identical fan chants: "Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi", "Kiwi Kiwi Kiwi oi oi oi"

This is because both countries were, in fact, one unified country till as recently as Financial Year 1923-24. But after some revisions in Australian accounting standards in that year, it was decided to spin-off New Zealand as a separate entity for tax purposes. Immediately rumours began swirling that black money was being routed through New Zealand. This belief was later enshrined in Kiwi sporting uniforms and team nicknames: Rugby - All Blacks, Cricket - Black Caps, Chicken Racing - Blackblackblack… blackaaaaack.

4. We all, regrettably, know the name of Robin van Persie. But does he have a brother or sister? Beatrice van Persie? Anbazhagan van Persie? Delivery van Persie? Who knows? And what do these van Persies do for a living? Who knows? Most probably they share Robin's greedy money-making mentality and are real-estate brokers or personal-injury lawyers.

In cricket there is no such ambiguity. This edition of the Champions Trophy is particularly rich with participating siblings. It only goes to show how cricket is truly a family sport that brings people together in ways that other sports simply cannot.

The siblings this year include Brendon and Nathan McCullum, who both play for New Zealand, West Indians Dwayne and Darren Bravo, Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Starc for Australia, and the seven Pereras in the Sri Lankan team.

Many fans around the world believe that Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma are related. In fact, Sharma is a very common surname in India, much like Rhodes or de Villiers or Kleinveldt or Petersen in English cricket.

5. Unfortunately this will be the last edition of the ICC Champions Trophy. Despite the consistently high quality of cricket that has been showcased in this tournament, the ICC has decided to replace this with the ICC World Test Championship in 2017. In this new format the top four teams in the international Test rankings at the end of 2016 will play two sets of three-match semi-finals. This can be shortened if the threat of planetary destruction by climate change seems imminent.

The two winners will then play each other in one Test match, played in the famous "timeless" format where the teams are allowed to bat unlimited overs until not a single fan of the sport is left alive.

Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar has already expressed his enthusiasm to play this timeless Test. "It has been my dream to play in a format that goes on and on and on, even with utter disregard for relevance, form or practicality," he said.

Sidin Vadukut is a columnist and editor with Mint, and the author of the Dork trilogy

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Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 6:06 GMT)

liked it very much... it was very funny... :)

Posted by Andy500265 on (June 15, 2013, 5:19 GMT)

Sidin, how could you forget Marsh and Starc's much-maligned elder brother Mitchell Johnson (aka You-know-who)?

Posted by justshmad on (June 15, 2013, 2:49 GMT)

Oh my:D i laughed my head off... funny as always from Sidddd--inn:p

Posted by   on (June 14, 2013, 21:13 GMT)

Not at all funny , except about the saffers in eng cricket . Guess sidin is trying too hard to be funny .

Posted by alarky on (June 14, 2013, 14:14 GMT)

It is not surprising that the ICC is getting rid of the best cricket tournament in the world - they always do stupid things! In fact, the biggest concerns plaguing cricket these days is that no cricket official in any country cares anything about cricket being a "QUALITY" sporting discipline again! All they are concerned about is making money, but I predict that the T/20 rubbish that they're promoting so much would lose steam and kill the entire sport of cricket not too long from now!

Posted by praks3705 on (June 14, 2013, 13:55 GMT)

"Here, unlike in the World Cup, the competition is limited to the finest cricketing nations in the world, and Australia". Hahahaha, Poor aussies two bad tournaments have made them feel like minnows, Sidin is sure to get a punch from Warner, if warner knows how to read.

Posted by   on (June 14, 2013, 13:19 GMT)

hilarious...only the lankan national anthem part could have been avoided!

Posted by   on (June 14, 2013, 11:23 GMT)

Awesome. Considering the theme and your focus on highlighting some really essential things about Champions Trophy I had considered your pertinent and mandatory exclusions about the tournament. Cheers.

Posted by   on (June 14, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

Mone, Sidine, NZ & SA have both won the first two editions of Champions trophy, whereas we are yet to "outrightly" win it, considering that you are more of an Indian and less of a Brit..

The Arsenal plug in was well intended, but arent you also running after success, I gottagive you a leeway here, jump the band wagon lest its too late :P

Posted by Rag-Aaron on (June 14, 2013, 9:53 GMT)

Blackblackblack… blackaaaaack!

I love it. I'm taking my chickens racing tomorrow!

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Sidin Vadukut
Sidin Vadukut has been writing extensively about cricket since he started writing this column for ESPNcricinfo. He comes from a family of footballers, who all nurture virulent hate for cricket in general and Basit Ali in particular. Vadukut is the author of the Dork trilogy of office-culture humour novels. By day he is a columnist and editor with business daily Mint. At night, depending on when he gets off work, he goes home or fights crime. His favourite cricketer is Saeed Anwar. By which he means Sachin Tendulkar. Jai Hind.

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