The current ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales is the last one ever. Before this current tournament started I was looking at the history of the competition in a bit more detail, and in doing so I’ve realised that I never knew just what a controversial history this tournament has had since its inauguration in 1998.
1998 – Hosted by Bangladesh
Winner – South Africa
Runners Up – West Indies
New Zealand beat Zimbabwe in a preliminary qualifier, they then joined the other seven nations in a straight knock out competition, which was won by South Africa, beating West Indies in the final.
There was no room for hosts Bangladesh, despite the tournament apparently existing to raise the profile of and money for cricket in emerging cricketing nations. Despite Bangladesh being an emerging cricketing nation at the time, ICC saw fit not to invite them to take part.
England weren’t too keen on competing and only sent a shadow squad. Flooding nearly caused the tournament not to have to be moved from the host city, Dhaka, which was apparently the third choice venue behind Disneyworld Florida (a well known emerging cricketing nation) and Sharjah.
At the time, the competition was known as the ICC KnockOut Trophy, or too give it it’s sponsored title, Wills International Cup.
Winners – New Zealand
Runners Up – India
The three victors then joined the already qualified Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Zimbabwe in a straight knock out format, which eventually seen New Zealand win their first and only international ICC event to date.
The tournament will be remembered for low crowds, blamed on excessive ticket prices. This was widely as a missed opportunity to further promote cricket in the African regions.
Winner – India/Sri Lanka
Runners Up – N/A
The format changed this time, as the Netherlands were admitted to the tournament for the first time, meaning the competition was extended to twelve teams. This time it was four groups of three, with the four groups winners qualifying for a straight knock out semi-finals.
The four groups were made up of….
Group A – Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh
Group B – India, England, Zimbabwe
Group C – South Africa, West Indies, Kenya
Group D – Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Netherlands
The tournament had to be switched from India after a tax dispute. It was also played within a few months of the world cup – opening the ICC up to the usual accusations of overkill.
The final ended up a farce as two abandoned attempts to play it meant the trophy had to be shared, despite the fact that more than 100 Overs had been bowled over the course of the two failed matches.
2004 – Hosted by England
Winners – West Indies
Runners Up – England
The format was the same as in 2002, with the one change to the competitors, the remarkable inclusion of the United States, at the expense of Netherlands. Yes, the United States of America playing cricket! If ever proof were needed that this tournament is controversial, there it is.
Anyway the four groups were made up as follows…
Group A – Australia, New Zealand, United States
Group B – West Indies, South Africa, Bangladesh
Group C – Pakistan, India, Kenya
Group D – England, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe
England had the final won, but managed to blow it in the dark and the gloom at Lord’s, with West Indies eventually getting home with an eighth wicket partnership of 71 runs.
The final itself was a great match, but the merely masked the fact that the tournament itself wasn’t great. It was again overpriced, so crowds were low, and it was squeezed in at the end of an English summer when everybody had had their fill of cricket. Such was the lateness of the tournament, it was practically played in the Autumn, hence the finish in the dark at Lord’s on the day of the final.
2006 – Hosted by India
Winners – Australia
Runners Up – West Indies
Yet another change in format to try and revive the competition. This time it was ten nations competing, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe played a round robin preliminary group, with the top two – Sri Lanka and West Indies – finishing first and second respectively and qualifying for the final eight.
The format was then more groups of four, playing round robin. West Indies joined Australia, India and England in Group A. While Sri Lanka were grouped with South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan.
The top two in each group qualified for the semi-finals, that was Australia, West Indies, South Africa and New Zealand.
In the final, Australia beat West Indies by 8 wickets under the Duckworth/Lewis method. This was just the start of the latest controversy though, as Damien Martyn appeared to shove BCCI President Sharad Pawar, off the podium after receiving the trophy from him. This was after Ricky Ponting tapped him on the shoulder and gestured to him to hurry up with the presentation of the trophy. The situation was later calmed down after Ponting apologised to Pawar for his teams behaviour.
2009 – Hosted by South Africa
Winners – Australia
Runners Up – New Zealand
The format was trimmed down for the 2009 tournament. It was just the eight teams this time, with Group A consisting of Australia, India, Pakistan and West Indies. Group B seen hosts South Africa joined by New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England.
The two groups were played in round robin format, with the top two from each group competing in the semi-finals. These four were Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and England.
Australia thrashed England by 9 wickets in one semi-final, New Zealand defeated Pakistan reasonably comfortably (5 wickets) in the second semi. Australia won the final by 6 wickets with more than 4 Overs to spare, they finished the tournament unbeaten.
The main controversy this time came in the months before and after the tournaments original scheduling in Pakistan, in 2008. For weeks before the scheduled start, top players from various competing nations voiced their safety concerns and indicated that they weren’t very keen on going.
National boards seemed to be ducking the issue, and the ICC and the organising Pakistani authorities insisted all was well, and the tournament would go ahead as planned. In the end South Africa broke ranks and decided they wouldn’t be going, this led to the inevitable postponing of the tournament a couple of days later.
The ICC then ducked the issue, and rescheduled the competition to take place in Pakistan, 12 months later. They speculatively hoped that the security situation would improve over the impending year.
The issue was finally put to bed when the Sri Lankan team touring Pakistan in early 2009, were the victims of a terrorist attack. Finally, there was no more debate, or posturing, and the ICC announced later than month that the competition would take place in South Africa.
The upcoming tournament in England, will be the last. Let’s hope it gets a good send off, and the ICC Champions Trophy can finish on a positive note.