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The ICC Champions Trophy

Founded in 1998 as a way to produce a One Day International (ODI) competition to offset the mixed-format Cricket World Cup, the ICC Champions Trophy has quickly become the highest-regarded ODI event on the planet – and almost as sought after as the World Cup itself.  The mix of gold and silver that make up the prize is a nod to the ICC Cricket World Cup, but as its lower height and fuller shape symbolically demonstrate, it means less than the “big brother” trophy awarded for the larger tournament.  Don’t be fooled, though, the contests are just as fierce!

History

After more than two decades of success with the ICC Cricket World Cup, the International Cricket Council elected to host an ODI tournament for its ten full members in 1998.  Initially a knockout tournament, featuring high-stakes, single-elimination match-ups, organizers sought to create a buzz around the competition by creating a trophy worth contesting.  However, as the governing body behind the Cricket World Cup, the ICC wanted to ensure the new tournament did not in any way eclipse the spectacle of its quadrennial showpiece.  Instead, they sought to grow the profile of the game in the host nations – at first, at least – and commissioned a prize smaller than the one for its major tournament.

Having used Garrard & Co. of London for the production of the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy, it was a bit of a surprise when the board turned to Asprey of London to manufacture the ICC Champions Trophy.  The silversmiths came up with a silver and gilt silver design featuring a cricket ball as the centerpiece supported by a tapered pillar.  In order to emphasize the secondary importance of the tournament, it rises to a height of only 18 inches and weighs a mere 7 pounds – about two-thirds as tall and less than one-third as heavy as the Cricket World Cup Trophy.  All told, it took 60 man hours for Asprey’s craftsmen to complete the manufacturing of the Champions Trophy.

For the 2009 tournament, an additional prize was added to the mix: winning players were awarded specially-designed white jackets to signify their accomplishment.  The result of a brainstorm by Indian fashion designer Babita M, a subtle inclusion of gold braiding gives the fabric a regal appearance, befitting the kings of ODI cricket for that particular tournament.  As the championship moves forward, there is still some question as to whether the jackets will be something other than a one-off, but they are certainly a new twist on the classic winner’s medal.

Best Teams

South Africa (1998)

When the tournament began, it was a quick-fire competition built around four knockout rounds.  Eight matches were crammed into nine days, making it as much an endurance trial as a showcase of skill, but the South Africans managed to outlast their opponents despite challenging conditions.  Rain-soaked pitches led to sluggish play, as bowlers, batters and fielders adjusted to the slickness.  In the final, Hansie Cronje and Jacques Kallis paced the South Africans in a comprehensive victory over  the West Indies.

West Indies (2004)

One of the most difficult challenges for a visiting team attempting to claim a championship on foreign soil is defeating the home side.  It’s hard enough to pull that off during pool play, which was instituted for the first time in 2002, let alone when you are fighting for the ICC Champions Trophy.  Despite the partisan crowd backing the English, the Caribbean team managed to eke out a victory over the favored hosts, who had upended the world champion Aussies in the semifinal.  Brian Lara, the batsman who helped pace the winners on the road to victory, would go on to say the hurricanes that had lashed the West Indies had inspired his team to grind out a triumph at all costs.

Australia (2009)

Having claimed the trophy in 2006, the Aussies set about to become the first repeat champions when the event was delayed a year and moved to South Africa after trouble in Pakistan.  In another format change, the teams were split into two four-team groups, adding an additional match to the championship run compared to the 2002-06 editions.  Having swept to victory in the group stages, Australia downed England in the semifinals by a reasonably comfortable margin before taking on Oceania rivals New Zealand with the ICC Champions Trophy on the line.  Having lost Tim Paine in the semifinals, most expected the team from Down Under to be in a dog fight, but they managed to coast to a six-wicket victory thanks to a brilliant display from Shane Watson.

Winners

Australia (2; 2006, 2009)

India (2; 2002 shared; 2013)

West Indies (1; 2004)

Sri Lanka (1; 2002; shared)

New Zealand (1; 2000)

South Africa (1; 1998)