Brian Lara lifts the trophy in 2004 ... but West Indies will have to go through the preliminaries this time around © Getty Images
The ICC used the launch of the 2006 Champions Trophy to try to quell suggestions that the event is not a priority for some teams after comments earlier this week that Australia might send a weakened side ahead of the Ashes which follows almost immediately.

"Don't kid yourself," Ehsan Mani, the ICC president, told the media announcing the schedule for the month-long tournament in New Delhi. "Australia have never won this tournament before and are determined to win this one. They will send their best team."

India will take on England in the opening match on October 15 at Jaipur. Both have been drawn in Group A, a section which also features the three-time world champions Australia and one qualifier. Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and another qualifying team from Group B.

Despite being the holders, West Indies are one of four teams who will take part in a preliminary round-robin which starts on October 7 and will be played at all four of the venues. West Indies must take part in this stage because they were outside the top six teams in the ICC one-day rankings at the cut-off date of April 1. Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are the other three sides, and the two best teams from the preliminary rounds will go through to the second stage.

All matches will be day-nighters, with the two semi-finals to be played at Mohali on November 1 and Jaipur on November 2. The final will then be played at Mumbai on November 5.

The ICC expects to raise around $65 million from the tournament which will help fund non-Test nations.


Oct 7: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, Mohali
Oct 8: West Indies v Zimbabwe, Ahmedabad
Oct 10: Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, Ahmedabad
Oct 11: West Indies v Bangladesh, Jaipur
Oct 13: Bangladesh v Zimbabwe, Jaipur
Oct 14: Sri Lanka v West Indies, Mumbai

Group stage:
Oct 15: India v England, Jaipur
Oct 16: New Zealand v South Africa, Mumbai
Oct 17: Pakistan v Qualifier 1, Jaipur
Oct 18: Australia v Qualifier 2, Mumbai
Oct 20: New Zealand v Q1, Mumbai
Oct 21: Australia v England, Jaipur
Oct 24: South Africa v Q1, Ahmedabad
Oct 25: New Zealand v Pakistan, Mohali
Oct 26: India v Q2, Ahmedabad
Oct 27: Pakistan v South Africa, Mohali
Oct 28: England v Q2, Ahmedabad
Oct 29: India v Australia, Mohali
Nov 1: 1st Semifinal - A1 v B2, Mohali
Nov 2: 2nd Semifinal - B1 v A2, Jaipur
Nov 5: Final, Mumbai