Champions Trophy 2006 Dream Team November 7, 2006

Votes are in and the winners are ...

The staff at Cricinfo pick their Champions Trophy Dream Team



Chris Gayle waltzed his way to the top of run charts © Getty Images

A tournament that began a month ago wound its way past some spectacles and some surprises to the inevitability of Brabourne on Sunday. Those matches featured the world's best players - as good a chance as any for us to pick out a Dream Team. We did this in the usual democratic manner: Votes from our staff. The results won't please everyone, of course, and some omissions are more notable than others - Adam Gilchrist, Kevin Pietersen, Kyle Mills, Shane Watson, Brett Lee, Shivnarine Chanderpaul - but, hey, that's democracy.

The eleven players are in batting order, picked to play in Indian conditions (more Mumbai than Mohali) and strictly on the basis of performance over the past month.

Chris Gayle
Six hundreds were recorded in the entire Champions Trophy and Gayle scored half of them, including the breathtaking, unbeaten 133 against South Africa in the semi-finals. Gayle just about mauled every bowler that came his way in the trademark stand-and-deliver fashion and waltzed his way to the top of run charts. Bonus was his ability to pick wickets at crucial junctures and stem the run-flow, which played a vital role in West Indies' run

Stephen Fleming
This was the tournament when he established a world-record 194 ODIs as captain. Fleming played true to type, unruffled, shrewd and steely, the thread that stitched together the Kiwi fabric. If his 89 against South Africa in a low-scoring thriller played on a bad wicket was the difference between the two sides then his commanding 80 against Pakistan, with the hot-and-cold Scott Styris, helped New Zealand become the first team to enter the semi-finals.

Ricky Ponting
He didn't set the stands ablaze or reach the kind of form that saw him scoop the ICC Player of the Year award but Ponting did become the first Australian captain to lift the Champions Trophy. No big scores, a tournament average of 23.60 - two ducks, including the final - but he had two fifties that played more than a crucial role in Australia's road to glory. One was the effortless 58 - the drives were perfect and the running exemplary - to shove India out of the contest at Mohali, the other an identical score in a semi-final win over New Zealand.

Damien Martyn
Australia's first Champions Trophy triumph owed a lot to Martyn. On Diwali day, amid the noise and under the lights against arch-rivals England, Australia needed all of birthday boy Marto's composure to get them past those initial hiccups when England got three quick wickets. Martyn then outclassed India, making sure that dangerman Harbhajan Singh didn't get a foothold in the Aussie camp, with another of those unassuming innings which he keeps playing.

Andrew Symonds
There weren't too many middle-order batsmen who got going in the tournament but in Symonds' case it's a matter of just not getting the chance in the middle. His run-a-ball 58 in the semi-final was as sublime a Symonds-innings as they come, and he finished with a healthy 34.66. His fielding, at cover for the most part, was outstanding, unsurprisingly. His offspin proved a partnership breaker.

Dwayne Bravo
One of the best all-rounders in the game today, along with Shane Watson. With 164 runs and seven wickets, Bravo made his presence felt, picking up his maiden one-day hundred, bamboozling batsmen with his lethal slower balls, and patrolling the field like a livewire. His dismissals of Michael Clarke in a thrilling 10-run win over Australia, and Chris Read in the defeat by England, were superb examples of how he's mastered that slow yorker. Impressively, and importantly for the future of the West Indies middle-order, he batted through to the end too.

Mark Boucher
As a modern-day wicketkeeper-batsman, only Gilchrist comes close to Boucher. But Boucher has proved he can handle pressure well with the bat and hold together an innings as a lower-order bat. South Africa's second-highest run-scorer in the tournament, Boucher was one of the few batsmen ready for a scrap when the conditions got tough. His 69 against Pakistan at Mohali was the difference between victory and defeat, and proof of his regular ability to lead a rescue mission. Six dismissals - including a sensational full-length, one-handed take down the leg side - highlighted his tidy glovework.



Age was hardly a deterrent to Glenn McGrath who was at his miserly best © Getty Images

Harbhajan Singh
Forget the return of two wickets at 51.50; focus on the economy rate of 3.67, proof that Harbhajan was the best spinner on view, constantly keeping the batsmen under pressure and stifling the run rate. Against West Indies, Harbhajan was the dominant partner in tandem with Virender Sehwag as the run rate quietly crept up to a run-a-ball and a simple chase turned into a last-over scramble. Batsmen were wary of hitting him and he consistently found sharp turn and bounce.

Glenn McGrath
Too old? Lost his edge? Pigeon answered these questions emphatically, getting his bunnies - Sachin Tendulkar once, Brian Lara twice - and maintaining that choking length, inch-perfect accuracy and the cunning knack to work batsmen, ending up with an astonishing average of 15.8 from five of the seven games Australia played. In the final Gayle blasted him for 14 runs in the second over, but McGrath once again confirmed his big-game temperament by first getting past Lara's outer edge and then delivering three maidens with another wicket of Runako Morton.

Jerome Taylor
Steaming in fast, with purposeful eyes that betray no emotion, Taylor has the ability to make the batsman hop and skip with pace and bounce. Michael Holding terms him as a 'finisher' for his ability to not lose direction bowling at death. One of the most improved fast bowlers, Taylor became the first West Indies bowler to bag a hat-trick in ODIs, and he did that against the mighty Australians. He was visibly dismayed after the final but he can put his chin up; he finished as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 13 in seven games.

Makhaya Ntini
Farveez Maharoof may have shocked West Indies with 6 for 14 at Mumbai, but Ntini's fiery opening burst of 5 for 8 against Pakistan was the most devastating spell all tournament. Aided by a Mohali pitch that offered zip, and backed by close-in catchers who plucked off beauties, he was in demolition mode and left Pakistan withered and beaten. That awesome spell booked South Africa's place in the semi-finals, but there were other potent spells that saw Ntini finish with eight wickets at 16.12.

Nagraj Gollapudi is Assistant Editor of Cricinfo Magazine. Jamie Alter is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

Comments