by David Harris
West Indies and the other seven Test-paying nations in England have much to play for in this year’s International Cricket Council’s Champions Trophy. This will be the final such tournament.
According to Haroon Lorgat, the ICC’s former chief executive officer, the council had decided to have one championship for each of the three formats of the game starting from 2015. Therefore the curtain is being drawn on a competition that in 2004 sent the West Indies public into bliss for the first time in several decades after having won their last world tournament 25 years earlier when they took the ICC 1979 World Cup in England.
For several nations it will be their final opportunity to wrest a title that has eluded many of them.
The ICC Champions Trophy was the brainchild of Jagmohan Dalmiya an Indian businessman who served as president of the ICC from 1997 to 2000.
It was originally called the ICC Knockout Tournament or Mini World Cup until the name was changed to the ICC Champions Trophy in 2002. The main intention of the tournament was to raise the profile and funds to develop the game in non test-playing countries. Since its inception, the tournament has been played every two year except 2008 when it was postponed until 2009.
In the last 15 years several variations have been made to the number of teams taking part in the tournament which give non Test-playing countries such as the United States, the Netherlands and Kenya the opportunity to play One-Day International Cricket against the Test-playing countries.
The inaugural tournament was called the Wills International Cup and was played in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1998, and had a direct knockout format with the then Test-playing countries of the West Indies. Pakistan, Australia, India, South Africa, England, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. It was played on slow pitches that were not made for exciting strokeplay but large crowds attended the matches.
South Africa under the leadership of the late Johannes (Hansie) Cronje) and the West Indies captained by Brian Lara contested the first final played at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. Philo Wallace the opening Barbadian batsman wrote his name into the record books with a century.
Wallace made a stroke filled 103, off a 102 balls in 135 minutes with 11 fours and 5 sixes. It was first century in the final of the new tournament and the only occasion the big hard-hitting batsman recorded three figures in West Indian colours.
Despite Wallace’s century, the West Indies were dismissed for 245 runs, their middle-order being destroyed by a spell of brilliant fast-medium swing bowling by Jacques Kallis, who took five wickets for 30 runs from 7.3 overs.
South Africa in the 26th over were 137 for five wickets but made 248 for 6 from 47 overs. Cronje guided his team to victory with a well played 61 not out. Kenya was the location for the second ICC championship played in 2000. Eleven teams took part and quarterfinals were played between six teams. South Africa, India, Pakistan and New Zealand qualified for the semi-finals.
New Zealand and India played in an exciting final at Nairobi Gymkhana Ground.
The Kiwis won the toss, their captain Stephen Fleming won the toss and elected to field.Sourav Ganguly the Indian skipper opened the batting and set the tone of the final scoring 117. He shared an opening partnership of 141 with Sachin Tendulkar which ended when the batting genius was run-out for 69 runs. The middle-order failed and India made 264 for 6 wickets in 50 overs.
Set a target of 265 runs to win the match the New Zealanders struggled against the Indian bowlers in the first 25 overs. They were 132 in the 23rd over when the fifth wicket fell but Chris Cairns who almost missed the match due to a knee injury, played the innings of life to steer New Zealand to a thrilling victory with just two balls to spare.
He scored 102 and shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 122 with Chris Harris to give his team its only major achievement in an ICC tournament.
Several major changes were made to the 2002 tournament played in Sri Lanka. The knockout format was abandoned and round robin matches employed and the name changed to the ICC Champions Trophy.
This competition was ill-planned. It was played in Sri Lanka during the wet monsoon period and was not very well received. Twelve teams participated but organising the event five months before the 2003 World Cup was ill-advised.
In this tournament the ICC used technology for the first time. Shoaib Malik of Pakistan became the first batsman in the history of the game to be given out by a third umpire. The trophy was shared between Sri Lanka and India after torrential showers for two days left the final unfinished. The 2004 edition of the tournament is etched firmly in the minds and the hearts of all West Indians. It was played in England and was marred by several organisational foul-ups. The fans stayed away due to high ticket prices, early starts and the autumn weather.
Over a period of 16 days in September, 15 games were packed in for the 12 teams. Apart from the ten Test-playing nations, Kenya and the USA competed in the event.
The West Indies led by Brian Lara toured England from July to August and played a four-match Test series for the Wisden Trophy and were humiliated 4-0. West Indies played in the tri-nation Natwest series along with England and New Zealand and reached the final at Lord’s only to suffer a massive defeat by New Zealand.
Cricket fans in the region were tired of seeing their once mighty team being humiliated time after time.
But against the odds, the West Indies reached the final of the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy against England led by Michael Vaughan at Kennington Oval. Lara won the toss and decided to field. England were bowled out for 217, they reached this total due to a carefully compiled century by Marcus Trescothick who made 104 in 214 minutes. The West Indies bowlers were outstanding but the one who stood out was Wavell Hinds. The Jamaican took 3 wickets for 24 runs from ten overs with his gentle medium pace. Set a target of 218 the West Indies were in deep trouble at 49 for 3 in the first ten overs. They slipped deeper in the mire with the dismissal of Lara at 72 for 4 in the 16th over. By the 25th over an air of gloom and doom began to spread across the islands of the region as six batsmen had been dismissed for a paltry 114 runs.Throughout the mayhem Shivnarine Chanderpaul stood like the Rock of Gibraltar. The dogged left-handed batsman carefully crafted 47 runs from 66 balls. He was the eighth batsman out with the total at 147.
Backs against the wall
The West Indies’ backs were against the wall when wicket-keeper Courtney Browne and medium-fast bowler Ian Bradshaw came together with 71 runs needed for victory with only the rank number 11 Corey Collymore to bat.
To the joy of West Indians, and the chagrin of the English, Browne and Bradshaw skillfully gathered the runs in a disciplined and patient manner. In semi-darkness Bradshaw found the boundary at third-man to give the West Indies an unbelievable victory by two wickets and spark celebrations on and off the field.
The 2006 ICC Champions Trophy was held in India with the final on November 5, 2006. The venues for the tournament were Mohali, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Mumbai. A new format was used. Eight teams were competing in the group phase: the top six teams in the ICC ODI Championship on 1 April 2006, plus two teams chosen from the other four Test-playing teams of Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, chosen from a pre-tournament round robin qualifying round. West Indies and Sri Lanka qualified ahead of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.The eight teams were then split into two groups of four in a round robin competition. While Australia and West Indies qualified from Group A, South Africa and New Zealand qualified from Group B for the semifinals.
Australia and West Indies reached the final defeating New Zealand and South Africa, respectively. In a low-scoring final at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, Australia beat West Indies by eight wickets to win the trophy for the first time. South Africa hosted the tournament in 2009 after it was delayed for a year because several teams refused to play in Pakistan, the original host, due to political instability.
The competition was played at Johannesburg and Centurion from September 24 to October 5. Two teams from two groups of four qualified for the semi-finals with the final staged at Centurion.
Australia who were at the height of their cricket powers won every match of the tournament. They defeated New Zealand in the finals by six wickets.
Man-of-the-Match Shane Watson scored a 105 not out in the final. Starting this weekend, captain Dwayne Bravo and his troops will hope to sign off the ICC Champions Trophy in like manner to the 2004 victors.
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