Champions Trophy 2013 June 24, 2013

The end of an ODI era

The Champions Trophy may be remembered with fondness and a touch of sadness. But will it be missed?

It's strange how we begin to love something we were once uninterested in, just as we're about to let it go. Like the book we received as a birthday present - about a subject we would never read about - that will be thrown out during spring cleaning. Or the pair of jeans, worn once, that only takes up wardrobe space. Or even the Champions Trophy.

Cricket's most neglected and often despised tournament has taken its final bow even though most people now want it to stay. Fans. Media. Even players. Four years ago in South Africa, these same people were seeing off the tournament's penultimate edition with great relief, knowing there was only one more to come.

The most common criticism then was that it was a meaningless title - not quite a World Cup, not quite a knockout, with no place among cricket's elite competitions. What started as a tournament to help grow the game in so-called smaller countries never managed to maintain an identity. In its childhood in Dhaka and Nairobi it was an elimination event. Then it became a more complicated beast, as teenagers tend to be, and involved a series of qualifying matches that made it longer and more tedious.

Over the last two competitions, the organisers found a recipe that works. Both the 2009 and 2013 events had two groups of four teams each, followed by a semi-final and a final. In 2009 there were some complaints, but this year the Champions Trophy is being praised for the same format. It has been called slick and on-point. Perhaps the glut of 20-over competitions that have sprung up in the interim has something to do with the change in attitude but it's not the only cause.

The World Cup can become a drag because there are too many matches and too many teams. The organisers have yet to find a way to balance extending the format to teams that deserve and need exposure and limiting the scope of a tournament to give it relevance.

There is talk of the 50-over tournament getting smaller and the T20 version expanding. That would be one way of preventing the continuation of an old boys' club but until that happens, there is a reason to play the Champions Trophy (and there has been talk of the ICC reconsidering the future of the event). The Champions Trophy is a good stopgap between an event that is big enough to justify its name as a World Cup and one that remains small enough to sustain competition throughout.

That is not to say every match of this tournament has been thrilling. The semi-finals were particularly disappointing for their one-sidedness but the group stage included one tie and four other matches that ended in close margins. Perhaps as a result, interest in this Champions Trophy has been high. Eleven of the 15 matches have been sell-outs but more notably, more than three quarters of the people who went to watch games - 78% - had not attended a live cricket contest in three years.

As with any global event, the public's reaction is somewhat dependent on the participation of the home team. A multicultural society like the United Kingdom is a little different because the progress of the subcontinental sides has a large bearing on actual bums-on-seats support. Pakistan failed to live up to expectations, even though they had a touring "Stani-army" following them, but the progress of England and India to the final had a positive effect on the event as a whole. The one obviously poorly attended game was between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Cardiff, though the teams made up for that with a humdinger of a match.

Despite changeable weather, the tournament was not completely washed out by any measure

Despite changeable weather, the tournament was not completely washed out by any measure. There was one no-result, which was also the case in 2009, and two rain-reduced affairs. While drizzle always gives people a reason to complain about a venue, conditions have been conducive for interesting cricket. Drier pitches at the start of the tournament assisted spinners far more than was expected, and tricky batting conditions and the rule change of two new balls ensured that no team apart from India was able to run away with a total. Lower-scoring games are usually more gripping and this tournament proved that yet again.

And then there were the off-field matters that had just the right amount of spice to keep the event in the headlines. England's ability to reverse-swing the ball and the alleged ball-tampering claims roused the technically minded, while Australia's after-dark activities had the perfect tinge of scandal for the rest. It also didn't hurt that they served as appetisers for the Ashes.

By now cricket's attention has already turned to that series. The Champions Trophy will be hauled out when India hark back to their list of achievements or when someone wants to complain about the winding nature of a World Cup in two years' time.

The way it ended - with a final that was almost washed out - will disguise that it was actually a fine event. Few would argue that India and England were the best two teams on show. The former showed off a successful transition from big names like Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag to younger talents like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan. England's aggressive bowling unit perfectly complemented their watchful batting approach. Over a full 100 overs, theirs would have been a balanced contest and provided a stern test of the skills both had displayed in the tournament. It could also have provided an accurate measure of who the best one-day side in world cricket is at the moment.

An era of one-day cricket is over. Chances are the Champions Trophy will be remembered with fondness and a touch of sadness, the sort we have when we think about a long-ago teddy bear that we decided was best left out of sight.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Altaf on June 26, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    When ICC seem to be in saving part of the Test cricket, amazed some authors promote to believe in End of ODI era!!!

  • Altaf on June 26, 2013, 5:38 GMT

    @CricketMaan Only single trophy never measures merit of a team. To be champion in cricket world, you have to prove with consistent success. Losing 4-0 to Aus & Eng in tests and, 3-0, 7-1 ODIs dosnt suite to World Champion and though its bitter, you have to accept the facts rather than living fantasy world based on a single trophy...

  • Robert on June 25, 2013, 23:39 GMT

    This has been, against my expectations, an interesting and exciting tournament (and I'm not saying that simply because my team Eng. reached the final!). The ICC should look at this as a template for future World Cups. Have 2 groups of 5 playing a round- robin with the groups made up of the top 8 ODI sides, seeded, plus a 'minnow' in each group who have won their place through a qualifying tournament. The 'minnows' will get to play some meaningful and competitive cricket with a tangible goal - qualifying to play against the major teams. Cricket lovers will get a short, sharp 'punchy' contest to enjoy rather than a long tedious drawn-out affair with too few proper matches.

  • Sriram on June 25, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    @AltafPatel - You havent missed an oppurtunity to be a perfect cynic..havent you? What you forgot is in some of those loses, India were wise to try out some young guns for exposure which other teams lacked and thus suffered in CT. In that period you mentioned, i too can list achievements. What is important is despite those setbacks and loss, India stood in a world event and dominated it like none. Aus, Eng, Pak all won agaist India, even Bangla, but none of those could make an impression. This despite some tired legs after a prolonged IPL 6. Give credit when due, they deserve as much praise as criticsm when losing.

  • Altaf on June 25, 2013, 11:14 GMT

    Still this winning team misses consistency. in not more than one and half year ago, they lost to Eng 3-0, then in Aus 7-1, thrown out of Asian Cup (Bangladesh got to the final), hardly won ODI series to Eng by 3-2, lost to Pak 2-1. They played well against that time poor and weak WI and NZ. They struggle with the same problem other strong suffers - SA and Eng. It will be interesting how they improve and stabilize their performance in next one or couple of years with recently found pool of very good potential and talent.

  • Dummy4 on June 25, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    rain rain pointless having odi tournament in england this time of year you never get a definitive outcome

  • Jackie on June 25, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    I think people have got to realise 4 years is too long to wait in cricket for a meaningful Trophy. Football understands this. The World Cup is balanced by the European Cup (other continents have their own trophies). Fans still love ODIs because it is meaningful cricket played over a day. If the media got behind the game it would become even more popular. Too many cynics in the media stir up the trolls only too anxious to criticise anything. The real fans pay their money and turn up. T20 will always be too short a game for the serious cricket fan, entertaining though it can be, although I find the IPL tries too hard. T20 might suit adrenaline junkies but cricket is a sport not a circus. Patience is a great feature of cricket and in that patience all sorts of battles are going on. And great skill and great artistry come to the fore. The ODIs have enough time for platforms to develop, for innings to take off, to be won and lost in the last few overs.

  • Steve on June 25, 2013, 3:07 GMT

    This would be a good time to say good bye to Champions Trophy. WC is the title all teams aim to win. CT can never come close to WC. As is, the cricket calendar is already flooded with too many meaningless series. Cutting CT makes it less crowded and will not be missed by true cricket fans at all.

  • Sam on June 24, 2013, 23:42 GMT

    Any championship that allows a team to showcase their players in white jacket deserves to be banished. ;-)

  • Dummy4 on June 24, 2013, 23:12 GMT

    How about the 20 Over World Cup have 16 teams in 4 groups of 4 and the winners and the runners up qualify for the 50 Over World Cup in the style of this Champions Trophy. This way it has the ability to reward the smaller nations as they get to play to get into the World Cup.

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