Champions trophy is that battle in cricket which kick started as the Knock out tournament in 1998, then was scripted as the Mini World cup, after few versions than faded like a light cloud in the bright skies of T20 cricket. As a spectator, I was always befuddled to know, what is the importance of champions trophy in the Cricketing arena?
Strangely came up only with handful of answers. What I can figure out from all the speculations and possibilities, Champions trophy is the Poor man’s World cup.
Okay! Let me quickly get through some unprecedented light on the history of Champions trophy. It started firstly in Bangladesh as ICC knockout trophy. It was a welcome relief for the 50-over cricket fans to see another global tournament on the horizon and hence quenching their thirst of 4 years break in ICC world cup. The first version was full of enthralling contests. I was almost nine years old and remember a Knockout PQF game between New Zealand vs Zimbabwe, which was decided on the last ball of match, NZ required 2 runs off last ball, Old fellow Chris Harris spanked the ball to the fence to win it for the Black Caps. The main highlight of the tournament was the Big Philo Wallace of West Indies. He was smashing the bowlers all over the dial and helped Windies to progress into the finals. But the South Africans for the first and only time till now shrugging off the Crown of chokers to win the inaugural tournament owing big fat thanks to the all-rounder Class of one and only Jacques Kallis.
The Second version of ICC Mini world Cup was based on same knockout format and was held in Nairobi Kenya. This Version was dominated by India before One Giant from New Zealand naming Chris Cairns dethroned the mighty Indians in the final against all the odds to give New Zealand first taste of any global trophy.
Then the Party reached Sri Lanka in 2002 and the tournament format was given a tweak. Knockout punch was hard to bear for a cricket lover and a team was given slight of opportunity to win the tournament even if they lose a game. This tournament will be remembered for the Introduction of Leg Before Wicket Review system, Jacques Kallis match losing knock vs India in semis and the Rain that spoilt the fun of finals on two successive days, hence trophy was shared between India and Sri Lanka.
The fourth Edition took place in UK. The format was same as the 3rd one. The tournament witnessed some intriguing battles. India vs Pakistan was one of the noticeable ones. Rana Naveed, Shoaib Akhtar and Yousuf Youhana digged hard to make sure that Pakistan has given back to Indians finally when it comes to global event. But the most famous game of the 2004 showcase event was the Final played at Oval London between host England and West Indies. England scored modest score with the main contribution coming from the Trescothick’s hundred. Windies were never in the chase as they lost eight wickets and the final hurdle was still 1/3rd distance away. But the heroic partnership between Browne and Bradshaw made it sure that they have thrown out every possibility for the English win out of the window to have their maiden Champions trophy piece.
The Fifth edition of Champions trophy was held in India with Qualifiers being played before the main event. The main event was played between 8 top teams. Defending champs West indies were on top of their game defeating Australia, India in the league games and South Africa in the semis. But the might of Australia was too hot to handle for West Indies in the final at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai. Shane Watson was cheif in the Aussie triumph.
The sixth edition was about to take place in Pakistan but due to same old security problems, it was shifted to South Africa. The tournament was losing its lustre in the brightness of ICC World T20. The tournament was played between top notch 8 teams; moreover, the tournament will be remembered for some top quality cricket. The main highlight of the tournament was the mouth watering India vs Pakistan contest at Centurion. The big Daddy Partnership between Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik was more than enough for Pakistan to dent further India with one more blow in the Champions Trophy cricket. Australians dominated finals of CT 09 by simply dismantling the opposition in both the finals of the event. Shane Watson was again the man for the Australia. His two final punches helped to Australia in becoming the first team to win two pieces of Champions trophy.
After the four years of hibernation, ICC champions trophy was again hosted by England & Wales cricket. It was believed as last such kind of tournament. The tournament was losing its fizz in the era of T20 cricket and ICC planned to scrap it after this edition. The tournament gained some eye balls all around the globe with quality cricket that made ICC to revisit their decision. India won the tournament in the captaincy of Maestro Dhoni. They remained unbeaten in the event . They defeated South Africa, West Indies , arch-Rival Pakistan, Sri Lanka and host England in Finals. The main man behind India’s tournament glory was Shikhar Dhawan, who scored two centuries and played few useful knocks in the event. This CT event was most successful on rating parameter.
With such lucrative rating and love for the event, ICC was forced to rethink the scrapping of ICC champions trophy and scheduling it’s eight edition again in England and Wales in the 2017 summer. This time again the format is same as that was in previous two additions. The only difference is that Bangladesh has outraced 2004 champions West Indies for the CT 2017 event. West Indies is no longer part of this Champions trophy event which will be a dampener. Now as a Cricket fan and Champions trophy lover, I hope this CT 2017 will be heart racing event and give me many moments to cherish and adore. Guys, I am advising you to reserve some decibels for this event, I am sure it would be a Cracker.
Or in Bill Lawry’s wording – “It Would be a RIIIIIPPPPPPPPPERRRRRRR!!!