Ricky Ponting October 19, 2012

'Champions Trophy wins rank just behind World Cups and Ashes wins'

As Australia look to defend their title, their former captain Ricky Ponting remembers highlights from the previous editions

How important is the ICC Champions Trophy for players?
It's a very important tournament for the player when you consider that the 50-over game has been a bit maligned over the last few years, with how big T20 cricket has become so quickly. The big tournaments you play in are the ICC World Cup and the Champions Trophy, so it's a very big and important event for the players.

And the fans?
I think the fans place it in the same regard as the players, especially the way the Champions Trophy is formatted now, with fewer teams than originally. I remember when I started playing Champions Trophy, almost all of the Associate nations were playing. In the UK in 2004, we played USA in the group stage - the game was over six overs, [us] chasing just 65. It was a pretty ordinary advertisement for the game, but the last tournament in South Africa in 2009 was the best run, and the most well-organised ODI tournament that I've been a part of.

Fans appreciate the shorter and compressed format as there are no real wasted games - the best eight teams are playing each other, the tournament's done in two weeks or so, and they get to see high-quality cricket in every game.

How important is the one-day game to the future of cricket?
ODI cricket is in a really interesting phase right now. I love 50-over cricket and I love Test cricket - they are my two favourite forms of the game. But you can see how just how big and how important the T20 game has become for world cricket in only a short period of time.

One-day cricket is certainly important in Australia's eyes, with us hosting the next World Cup. The one-day game is vitally important to this country. But I think it'll be really interesting to see what does happen to the 50-over game. I think the roles between T20 and 50-over cricket will probably be reversed - eventually we'll be playing more T20 and less 50-over cricket.

You captained Australia to victory in the previous two ICC Champions Trophy tournaments. How do the titles rank in terms of your career achievements?
They rank very highly, probably just behind World Cups and Ashes Test wins. The Champions Trophy eluded us for quite a while - the first few I played in were knockout tournaments and we got knocked out early on. When we were in India, beating West Indies in the final in 2006 was very special to us. Then we beat New Zealand in South Africa in 2009, which was a very good tournament for the team - we snuck through the whole tournament undefeated, despite a bit of a scare versus Pakistan in the last group game.

What is your best memory of playing in the tournament?
I have lots of fond memories of the Champions Trophy. My favourite was probably the 2009 final - it was a bit of a nail-biting final, although we got across the line four wickets down. Callum Ferguson injured his knee in the final, so we were a batsman down, chasing runs, and we lost a couple of early wickets. Shane Watson scored another hundred [after his hundred in the semis] and saw us home.

We went through that tournament undefeated, so that's very memorable. Thankfully, for me, we did that on a few occasions in World Cups and the Champions Trophy - and that's a pretty hard thing to do in one-day cricket.

You are the fifth leading run scorer in the history of the tournament, with 593 in 18 innings. What was your favourite innings in the ICC Champions Trophy?
My hundred in 2009 against England in the semis. We had to chase a reasonable total [257] at Centurion. Watto and I put on 252, and we chased it one wicket down. Watto ended up with 136 not out and I made 111 not out. The enormity of the situation - chasing a big total, being the captain, making a hundred and winning one down - that was one of my biggest highlights.

You've played, and won, the most matches as captain and have a win ratio of 80%. Are you proud of that achievement?
Yes, I'm very proud of that record. The last couple of tournaments we played some very good one-day cricket. Captain's records are only a reflection of how good their team and how good their players are - so I've got to be thankful for that.

Who were the toughest five bowlers you have ever faced in one-day international cricket?
Wasim Akram, Curtly Ambrose, Shaun Pollock, Murali and Malinga. The generation I've played in has some of the all-time great bowlers.

That list obviously doesn't include your formidable Australian bowling attack, which was crucial to your success, wasn't it?
I was pretty lucky in my captaincy to have [Jason] Gillespie, [Glenn] McGrath and [Shane] Warne - and, of course, Brett Lee, who will go down as one of the great one-day bowlers. We always had decent part-timers as well - [Andrew] Symonds, [Darren] Lehmann - those sorts of guys, who could do a job for you and were very handy. That was the one thing about our team - we always had great balance because we had guys batting in our top six who were always able to bowl a few overs, which is very important for any one-day team.

See the best eight teams in one-day international cricket take part in the ICC Champions Trophy in June 2013 - tickets for The Oval, Cardiff and Edgbaston are on sale on 5 November at icc-cricket.com (pre-registration open now)

Comments