BBC BLOGS - Alison Mitchell
« Previous | Main | Next »

Champions Trophy surpasses expectations

Post categories:

Alison Mitchell | 22:51 UK time, Thursday, 1 October 2009

We're on the verge of the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy, and this tournament has by far exceeded expectations.

From a domestic point of view, it has helped that England have somehow turned their fortunes around with their unexpected win over Sri Lanka and their unbelievable innings against South Africa, but being here at the event is incredibly exciting.

The 50-over game has come in for a fair amount of criticism as the Twenty20 game becomes ever more popular, but whilst it must be pointed out that crowds here have been very disappointing (except for South Africa matches and the India/Pakistan game) the format of the tournament means that every match has had something riding on it.

We've also had some tense finishes, and there have been more than a few talking points.

england595.jpg
The Australia-Pakistan game went down to the last ball as the Aussies sneaked top spot in the group to set up another ODI against England in the semi-final.
The batting of Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood and Eoin Morgan was breathtaking, as the hosts, South Africa, crashed out at Centurion, and the debate will rage as to whether a runner should be allowed for cramp.

In many ways it's a shame the World Cup proper can't follow a similar format to this; short, sharp, easy to follow (no 'Super Sixes' - what stage of the tournament is that?) with every match a potential 'do-or-die' situation.

People talk about 'tournament football' whenever the European Championships or Word Cup comes around, and in cricket it should be no different.

A five (or heaven forbid) seven-match one-day series is the time to allow side to lose a few games then make a comeback. In a tournament, the thrill should be in knowing that a bad game will make life difficult and two bad games could mean it's all over. It's about hitting form at the right time, and pulling it off on the day.

Admittedly, in cricket, you can be scuppered by a poor pitch, such as the minefield England played on at the Wanderers in Tuesday's defeat by New Zealand, but on the whole this tournament has been a lot of fun, and having it staged between two grounds, based around one city, means you can't help but feel in the absolute thick of the world's best players.

The problem is, there haven't been enough people here to share it. It'll be interesting to see how many turn out for the semis and then the final.

I started writing this blog in the media room during the ICC Awards at the Sandton Convention Centre. The ceremony has just ended and Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has just picked up the main gong of the night, Cricketer of the Year (Andrew Strauss missing out), while England's Claire Taylor has added ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year to her bulging bag of accolades. Ireland captain William Porterfield has won Associate Player of the Year.

Johnson is perhaps a surprise pick considering the crisis of confidence he suffered during the Ashes but he's still comfortably the most prolific strike bowler of the year, with 80 wickets in 17 matches.

There has been a lot of chuntering in the media here about the distinct lack of South African players shortlisted for awards, considering the success they've achieved in the qualifying period; not only winning the Test series in England last summer but then consigning Australia to their first Test series defeat at home for 16 years. Not one South African player attended the awards ceremony.

Unfortunately, there was a distinct lack of players overall. I was at the event here two years ago during the 2007 World Twenty20 (invited as a guest - I've clearly fallen down the pecking order!) and if I remember rightly it was held just before the tournament began.

All the squads attended and it gave the T20 a real lift off. On that occasion I understand the teams were required to attend by the ICC, whereas this time there was no three-line whip. And, of course, with some teams already knocked out, they're hardly in the mood to party.

Test Match Special will have commentary of England's semi-final against Australia on Friday and the final on Monday. Both games will be live on Five Live Sports Extra, Radio Four Longwave and on-line for listeners in the UK, the programme stsrating at 1315 BST.

Friday's coverage will include a full-length interview with England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff and news of Thursday evening's ICC Awards ceremony.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Typical comment from an English reporter. The Ashes aren't the be and end all. Johnson has all-rounder status, test runs to add to his ODI and test wickets and has had strong impact internationally in the period of the voting.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree about the format, which, in the case of the 20/20 and 50 over World Cups tends to lead to several rather pointless games.

  • Comment number 3.

    Amazed that Johnson won it, given his pretty disastrous showing in the most important series of all (4th test aside). Musklifesavers, if you ask Johnson and Australia whether they'd give up the win in South Africa for the Ashes back, I think we both know what they'd say.

    Equally surprised at Stuart Broad being included in the test side; I seem to recall him being on the verge of the drop after three and a half Ashes tests. Perhaps he owes this one to Max Clifford...

    I've been pleasantly surprised by the tournament as well. The 2007 World Cup was perhaps the nadir of all sporting events, with its endless, turgid, meaningless string of games; shockingly poor organisation by a West Indies cricket board that seems to have given up; and the farce of a final. I had been of the opinion that there is too much cricket (and still am; particularly mickey mouse one-day stuff) and wasn't planning to take much notice of the Champions Trophy, but it has been a genuinely gripping and exciting tournament. Just a shame about the Windies.

  • Comment number 4.

    Johnson is a surprise choice considering cometh the hour-he flopped miserably in the Ashes. His bowling on that first morning at Lord's was some of the worse bowling I have seen on the opening morning of any test match. He was again flogged at Edgbaston and showed little with the bat.
    Andrew Strauss or Graeme Smith would have gotten my vote. Strauss had a marvellous tour of the West Indies and continued his good form in the summer as he captained his side to the Ashes.
    Smith led S Africa to an unique win in Australia where he was immense and only injury semed to stop him.

  • Comment number 5.

    "but whilst it must be pointed out that crowds here have been very disappointing"

    Don't you think SA might be at a bit of sports saturation? Australias tour of SA, IPL, British Lions Tour, Confederations Cup, and now the ICC champions trophy, closely followed by Englands tour? This is still not a rich country and with the football world cup being so close as well, surely the poor crowds should be blamed at SA putting their hand up for everything and not being able to deliver the people to watch.

    Not so sure Mitchell should have won but see alot of potential in Siddle, back to the aggresive snarling aussie fast bowlers of old.

  • Comment number 6.

    Why there is no mention about the indians in the article, who won the main awards too. Gautham Ghambit is the best Test Player of the year, MS Dhoni the best ODI player, or is it like OZ or English are only capable teams around ?

  • Comment number 7.

    Ummm pprozac. Maybe you have missed your medication today, and maybe I agree with you that Strauss or Smith (not even nominatey.. why?) would be the equal or better than Johnson. BUT, to say that his bowling was the worst you have ever seen in the first day of a test? Hmmmmmm have you forgotten a certain English bowler who did the same both in England and Australia on the first days?

  • Comment number 8.

    "6. At 04:32am on 02 Oct 2009, cyriacpaul wrote:

    Why there is no mention about the indians in the article, who won the main awards too. Gautham Ghambit is the best Test Player of the year, MS Dhoni the best ODI player, or is it like OZ or English are only capable teams around ?"

    Because it's an article about the Champions Trophy...with a little aside about the ICC awards.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'ld have preferred Strauss to win the award, he took up the captaincy at a difficult time, and performed well with the bat in the Carribean and back home. However Johnson has played extremely well in the beginning of the year. That 8-61 at Perth and the way he terrorized Smith in both series. Moreover he showed us another side of him with the bat. He was also reliable throughout all 3 formats of the game. So congrats to Johnson. As for the Champions trophy, it is a good and short tourno- shame the hosts and my favourite team SL were eliminated. And it seems crowd wherever in the world prefer T20 nowadays-tests get low attendances, maybe ODIs, but in this case where the hosts aren't there, forget it.

  • Comment number 10.

    SA made England look awesome on sunday because we played so poorly.When in actual fact SA is by far a much better,sronger,more balanced side than England.So Im not in support of a short tournament,SA had a bad day and they are out,when everybody knows SA r the best team in the world.A tournament must be structed in a way where teams can redeem themseleves,like the current format of the world cup.Longer tournaments also gives a true reflection of who's the best team in the world,shorter tournaments not,Im talking about the winners.

  • Comment number 11.

    Why not. The champions trophy will be exciting now that England has won a couple of games!!!

    However, to be frank the tournament has been a disappointment given the best one day teams are already out, thanks to a lousy format.

    You cared to talk about the dodgy pitch in England and Newzealand's game, but no mention of the benefit England got from the same dodgy pitch in Sri-Lanka's game.

    The sooner the tournament comes to end the better and hope only the deserving team out of the remaining 4 wins it. Will be a disgrace if a substandard team goes on to win.

  • Comment number 12.

    Mitchell Johnson is a joke of a cricketer. He has no materplan in his bowling at all. he just throws it and hopes for a wicket.

  • Comment number 13.

    Johnson is an undeserving winner of Cricketer of the year, he's had a very good season, but as others have mentioned, he performed terribly for the majority of one of the series he participated in, there are players out there who also had excellent seasons, performing well throughout the year - Strauss, Smith, De Villiers, M Clarke, Gambhir, Dhoni, Steyn.

  • Comment number 14.

    1. At 00:08am on 02 Oct 2009, MuskLifesavers wrote:
    Typical comment from an English reporter. The Ashes aren't the be and end all. Johnson has all-rounder status, test runs to add to his ODI and test wickets and has had strong impact internationally in the period of the voting.

    - What??? you ask any aussie cricketer what the be all and end all is and they will all say winning the ashes (not winning a 7 match pointless one day series)

    And can someone please explain how Smith was not even nominated for cricketer of the year???

  • Comment number 15.

    "but on the whole this tournament has been a lot of fun, and having it staged between two grounds, based around one city, means you can't help but feel in the absolute thick of the world's best players"

    Can you clarify this for me. I understood that there were games being played in Pretoria and Johannesburg. I could be wrong though.


  • Comment number 16.

    Nice to see a good balance of opinions! Supporters of teams progressing well seem happy with the format and style. The opposite applies to those whose teams have already been eliminated. All in all a not unexpected response and highlights the subjectivity of sport. If England had continued their poor form I'm sure that the general opinion would have been that it is a second-rate meaningless competition and test cricket is the only true format of the game. It seems that this lack of expectation has been one of the factors that have allowed England to play with some freedom. Ignoring all comments about pitches and spirit of the game (both teams use the same pitch after all), England have looked a more relaxed and positive group and their cricket has reflected this. SA on the other hand, whilst arguably the top ODI team at present, had the weight of a home crowd's expectation on them and let it get to them (with the exception of a sublime innings by Smith at Centurion). Rugby fans will have seen a similar trend with NZ in the last few RWC's. Entering a tournament as favourite is not always an advantage.

    Hope this afternoon's semi continues in the same vein. I have a nasty feeling that England might tighten up again now that there is a sniff at some silverware. Hope that I am proved wrong and we see a good contest.

    On other issues, I have no problem with Mitchell Johnson winning the award. He had a huge impact on the game during the preceding year and looks a class bowler. With so many advantages offered to the batsmen these days, with such powerful bats and organisers wanting 5 day pitches to get maximum revenue, it is refreshing to see a bowler rewarded. Strauss had an outstanding year and was worthy of a nomination. In my mind that is also an acknowledgement of his accomplishments despite not actually winning overall. To call Johnson a "joke of a cricketer" says more about the author of the post in my opinion. 80 wickets in 17 matches and I wouldn't want to face him without the aid of a riot shield.

    Please forgive any slight England bias in either this post or the main article. It is after all a UK website and therefore the Ashes is always going to get more prominence than a series between two overseas teams! Hardly a crime.

  • Comment number 17.

    RE - The sooner the tournament comes to end the better and hope only the deserving team out of the remaining 4 wins it. Will be a disgrace if a substandard team goes on to win.

    .......................................................................

    Anyone Fancy sharing in Raj119's Sour Grapes :)



  • Comment number 18.

    Johnson was presumably selected in view of his invaluable contribution to Englands Ashes win.......

  • Comment number 19.

    RE - The sooner the tournament comes to end the better and hope only the deserving team out of the remaining 4 wins it. Will be a disgrace if a substandard team goes on to win.

    .......................................................................

    Anyone Fancy sharing in Raj119's Sour Grapes :)

  • Comment number 20.

    Stuart Broad's injury is a worry, but hopefully the England medical staff can get to the bottom of the problem as soon a possible

  • Comment number 21.

    Anybody who thinks that what Oz or English cricketer think is the biggest series and therefore the main criteria for deciding the Cricketer of the Year does not care or understand what the award is.

    It is awarded for performances across all formats, over the whole year and, surprise, surprise, chosen from more than just the 22 or so who competed in the Ashes. That is why Johnson was up for it in the first place.

  • Comment number 22.

    Lets face it. We're interested because we have won some games. It was our best one day performance in years against SA. All contributed and it came as a huge shock. Shah, Colly and Morgan were immense and Jimmy took adavantage of the "English" conditions. It looks cold out there, probably the equivalent of our April. I just hope we don't freeze against the Aussies because we can beat them if we turn up.

    Johnson world cricketer of the year - yeah right. South Africa are the worlds number one team and had no-one there. Smith would be right to feel aggrieved by this snub. to be fair johnson looked as shocked as anyone. Strauss has had a good year but our ashes win was built on the collective rather than the individual. Each member pitched up and did their bit at different times. We won the key sessions.

    This is a pretty meaningless competition, but I would like to win it from here. no reason why we can't. Don't choke England, have belief and pitch the ball up.

  • Comment number 23.

    "At 11:52am on 02 Oct 2009, paulyfan wrote:

    Stuart Broad's injury is a worry, but hopefully the England medical staff can get to the bottom of the problem as soon a possible"

    I agree. He has taken vital wickets in the last few matches and needs to be fully fit. The last thing England need is for the injury to rear up again halfway through the match.

  • Comment number 24.

    GlawsCroucher and paulyfan. Seriously, can't you just leave these kind of asinine comments behind?

  • Comment number 25.

    Great blog Alison. I myself was surprised at how good the CT has been.

  • Comment number 26.

    Can anyone tell me why England are playing the Aussies next year as surely they@re not touring again next year!!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Johnson winning the award goes to show that there are very few top bowlers around these days. Yes his 8-60 odd was impressive (as was Jerome Taylor skittling out England for 51)-but let's be honest here. He flopped in the Ashes and lost the new ball and came close to getting dropped.
    The English crowds laughed at him. Strange choice.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hopefully Broady will be fine, he shouldn't be the butt of stupid jokes.... After all he is one of our crack bowlers.

  • Comment number 29.


    England is doing well in team sports at the moment. In cricket, football, hockey and other events, England's sportspersons are experiencing better days all over again. There are many candidates vying for a berth in the playing squad. Good signs.




    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 30.

    JRMaineMan wrote:

    "Johnson world cricketer of the year - yeah right. South Africa are the worlds number one team and had no-one there."

    You've got a problem with your logic there. South Africa were the number one team, and yet Johnson ran roughshod over them with ball *and* bat. Broke Smith's hand twice, opened up Kallis's chin, made a century and a 96 and took a bag of wickets.

    People in England can rubbish him as much as you want, but over the past year Johnson has taken wickets at an average of under 25 - which is quite a feat in itself - and has also had an average of 35 batting. It's "cricketer" of the year, not "batsman" or "bowler". Hard to argue against someone with those stats being up there.

    His bowling performances at Perth and Kingsmead were the stuff of batsman's nightmares, it was so refreshing to see a bowler roughing up batsmen in this era of flat pitches. If you didn't watch those games, you have no idea of Johnson's talent.

    There are certainly aspects of his game which have let him down, most notably his accuracy when out of form. But it also has to be remembered that he basically went from debutant to carrying Australia's attack in the space of a few months (retirement of McGrath and Warne, then injuries to Brett Lee and Stuart Clark). I'm willing to give him some leeway at such an early stage of his career.

    I'd have him over that pretender Jimmy Anderson any day. At least on his off days, Johnson continues to put the effort in and take wickets. Plus he has the capability of making hundreds, rather than receiving an ovation for getting off zero...
    ;)

  • Comment number 31.

    A well balanced post.As objective as should be.A few with their isms are already crying foul about Johnson but 1 for 61 in their semi final against England says it all.Through the Ashes the ICC tourney it is quite difficul to see how Johnson and his newly acquired status tally.
    The SA team in this tournament has been as disappointing as their crowds.Their management needs to be put to task should they bid to host a similar event in future.
    Of course the Aussies have gone on to get to the finals and looking back at it all,they are the one side that have had everything or just nearly everything going for them in the event.How appropriate that they should meet an all too familiar rival in the final.The outcome is almost predictable.But,we hope it does not become a repeat of one of the semi final matches where England seemed to have given their best to beat only South Africa and let the wheels off their truck from then on.It would be a fitting end to the event if only the black caps give us a thrilling fight for it or even go on to win in the end.

  • Comment number 32.

    Machin Elf, and I'd rather have Jimmy anyday. He, despite what you seem to have assumed, never stops trying either, doesnt chuck the ball, and as for his batting, well, you call him a "PRETENDER" all you like, he does not think of himself as anything but a tailender, but Oz couldnt get him out, could they?? LOL

  • Comment number 33.

    Mitchell Johnson doesn't 'chuck' the ball anymore than Jeff Thomson did. One notable thing about his action is how straight his arm is.
    People seem to be confusing 'chuck' with 'sling'.
    And yes, Johnson does deserve his award, even though he seems to be at a bit of a crossroads at the moment.

  • Comment number 34.

    the format of the tournament means that every match has had something riding on it.

    ------

    Nothign to do with it being 50 or 20 overs that.

 

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.