When ICC failed to inform Pak that it was the host

Interesting tidbits from ICC Champions Trophy’s chequered history

London, May 31: The ICC Champions Trophy, which kicks off tomorrow in England, is perhaps the most prestigious limited overs tournament, after the ICC World Cup, IPL, Big Bash League, Caribbean T20 League and Buchi Babu Trophy.

The ICC Champions Trophy, which was originally named ICC Knock Out Trophy (there was no consensus whether ‘Knockout’ was a single word or two, and hence they changed the name), has had a chequered history. From being a biennial event, the tournament moved to once every four years and is now conducted once every some random years and in the future it may not be held too.

The participation in the tournament is on first-come-first-serve basis, and is also not restricted to cricket playing nations. For instance, USA was part of the tourney in 2004. Cricket in USA is, of course, known as soccer. And, anyone who has turned out for, say, Jolly Rovers in Chennai cricket League is guaranteed a place in its national team.

This week, we deal with, in Q and A format, some aspects of this popular tournament that has provided many cricketing events to remember, one of which will certainly be Clayton Lambert’s two-eyed legs-far-apart-Grand-Canyon-impersonation stance that would, in comparison, make, Shivnarine Chanderpual’s clean and classy.

Q: When was the inaugural edition of tournament played, and who won it?

Ans: ICC always wanted to run a one-day tournament that did not seem to run for eternity (also known as a season of Super Singer contest on Vijay TV). For the record, the 2007 ICC World Cup is still on. Born out of this idea to have a compact international tournament, the first edition was held in Bangladesh in 1998, and it was won by South Africa defeating Sri Lanka in the finals.

Sri Lanka needed to score 93 runs off the last ball, but South Africa’s Jacques Kallis held his nerve to concede only 91 runs off it. South Africa was declared winners by 92 runs, using the handy D/L formula: the difference between 93 and 91 being 92.

Q: How did USA get to participate in the 2004 edition?

Ans: The 2004 tournament, if our memory serves us right, was held in England, which had only then signed a most favoured nation treaty with America. That helped USA clinch a place in the tournament.

The finals was one of the most memorable contests with West Indies reeling at 147 for 8 chasing England’s 217. The tournament’s organisers understood that there was no way Windies was going to win the cup and started the presentation ceremony. But with Vaughan’s team busy celebrating at the presentation ceremony, the wily West Indies tailenders used the opportunity to knock off the remaining runs. This tournament deserves to be remembered just for Vaughan’s face at the end of it all.

Q: Tell us something about the 2006 event

Ans: The finals, between India and Sri Lanka, was rained off. And it rained on the reserve day too. And it rained the next day. The next day. Actually, it rained continuously for the next three years so much so that the next edition of the tournament could be held only in 2009.

Q: Really?

Ans: Okay, not exactly. The next edition was scheduled to be held in Pakistan in 2008, but no one in the ICC had bothered to inform Pakistan. When the rest of the teams arrived in Pakistan, the Pakistan national team itself was touring South Africa, playing against the local clubs for some much-needed international experience. After some last-minute frantic sorting out of loose ends, Pakistan managed to host it in 2009 at South Africa. But since it had a flight to catch, Pakistan couldn’t stay till the end. A pity, really.

Q: After 2009, the next event was in 2011, right?

Ans: Right. But wrong. Due to a clerical error that is generally understandable in a big organisation like the ICC, the World Cup was also scheduled to be held in 2011. The World Cup usually runs for two to three years, and so they could organise the next ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 only.

But in a bid to avoid such confusions in the future, the ICC decided to cancel the tournament itself, and in its place they even planned a World Test championship. But this time the printers goofed up as they still had the old name ‘ICC Champions Trophy’ on the invitation. So they are conducting the old tournament itself this year. But hopefully if the printers don’t mess it up again, the ICC Champions Trophy may be gone in the future.

Q: Give us a brief account of this year’s event

Ans: There has been a lot of drama as India did not name its 15-member squad by the deadline of April 25. According to the tournament rules, any change in the squad after April 25 could be made only on medical grounds. Eventually, India did name its squad, and all the players produced medical certificates that they had suffered multiple injuries while trying to watch Sachin: A Billion Dreams film first day first show.

The popular team, West Indies, is also not part of this year’s tournament as according to global one-day rankings, it was outside of top 8 in 2015. But if Bangladesh makes it to the knockout stage in the tournament, it will be replaced by West Indies as by 2016’s rankings West Indies had edged out Bangladesh in the top-8.

Q: Who looks like the favourite to lift the Cup?

Ans: We, for one, are looking forward to Venezuela winning the trophy.

         

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