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Sunday, August 16, 2009

ICC Champions Trophy 2009 Schedule

You already know that ICC Champions Trophy 2009 is going to take place from 22 September to 5 October in South Africa. Though ICC Champions Trophy, which was previously known as ICC Mini World Cup, was originally based on a knock out format, it now includes a group stage based on a round robin league system, following by a knock out round involving two semi finals and final. Moreover, the number of participating teams has been decreased too. Initially, all the test playing nations had direct access to the tournament, and besides these test playing nations, a number of team with ODI status were also allowed to take part in the tournament.



However, since 2006 tournament, only 8 teams among the test playing nations are allowed to participate in the tournament. In 2006, top 6 test playing teams from ICC ODI ranking were eligible for the tournament, and the 4 other test playing teams went through a qualifying round to clinch the two remaining spots of the tournament. This year, all the 8 participating teams were included on the basis of their position in the ICC ODI ranking.



Eight teams will be divided into two groups of 4 teams each. Group A includes defending champions Australia, India, Pakistan and West Indies, while Group B incorporates host South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England. All the 4 teams in each group will be playing against each other in a round robin league system, and top 2 teams from each group based on the points achieved through group stage games will progress to the semi final stage. In the semi final, Group A champions will face Group B runner up in the first semi final, and in the second semi final, Group B champion will take on Group A runner up. Two semi final winners will be meeting in the final match due to take place on 5 October 2009 at the SuperSport Park, Centurion.



The 14-day tournament will take place in two venues: New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg and SuperSport Park, Centurion. The tournament was supposed to take place originally in Pakistan last year. However, ICC postponed the tournament until October 2009 after cricketers from a number of test playing countries including Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand had refused to tour Pakistan, citing the security concern in the country. In January 2009, ICC board members decided that the tournament would not take place in Pakistan because of lack security and Sri Lanka appeared favorite to become the alternative host of the tournament.



However, upon receiving recommendation from ICC Chief Executives' Committee, ICC board members decided to move the tournament to South Africa due to uncertainty over weather during September-October period in Sri Lanka. So, following a series of uncertainty, ICC Champions Trophy 2009 tournament is going to take place in South Africa and cricket fans are eagerly waiting for this second most ODI tournament in world cricket.



Stage

Date

Competing

Teams

Time

Venue

Group

Stage

22 Sep

2009

Tue

South Africa

Vs

Sri Lanka

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

SuperSport

Park,

Centurion

23 Sep

2009

Wed

Pakistan

Vs

West Indies

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

New

Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

24 Sep

2009

Thu

South Africa

Vs

New Zealand

Local

09:30;

GMT

07:30

SuperSport

Park,

Centurion

25 Sep

2009

Fri

Sri Lanka

Vs

England

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

New

Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

26 Sep

2009

Sat

Australia

Vs

West Indies

Local

09:30;

GMT

07:30

New

Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg



India

Vs

Pakistan

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

SuperSport

Park,

Centurion

27 Sep

2009

Sun

New Zealand

Vs

Sri Lanka

Local

09:30;

GMT

07:30

New

Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg



England

Vs

South Africa

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

SuperSport

Park,

Centurion

28 Sep

2009

Mon

Australia

Vs

India

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

SuperSport

Park,

Centurion

29 Sep

2009

Tue

New Zealand

Vs

England

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

New

Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

30 Sep

2009

Wed

Australia

Vs

Pakistan

Local

09:30;

GMT

07:30

SuperSport

Park,

Centurion



India

Vs

West Indies

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

New

Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

Semi

Final (SF)-1

2 Oct

2009

Fri

Group A Champion

Vs

Group B

Runner up

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

SuperSport

Park,

Centurion

Semi

Final (SF)-2

3 Oct

2009

Sat

Group B Champion

Vs

Group A

Runner up

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

New

Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

Final

5 Oct

2009

Mon

Winner SF 1

Vs

Winner SF 2

Local

14:30;

GMT

12:30

SuperSport

Park,

Centurion



Australia is the defending champions and naturally, they are one of the favorites for the upcoming tournament. However, one thing is for sure that Australia has lost much of its strength over the last few years and it would not be easy for the Aussie side to defend their title in South Africa. South Africa as host would have some advantages, and given their recent form, they are one of the favorites to win the tournament this year. South Africa won the inaugural tournament of Champions trophy back in 1998 in Dhaka, but since then, the Protease side could not even reach the final of the tournament. However, they would like to repeat their 1998 success this year in front of home crowd.



One time winner India also has a very good chance to win the tournament, given their recent form, and temptation to win something big in order to compensate their poor performance in twenty20 world cup this year. Twenty20 champion Pakistan looks pretty much balanced too, while England and New Zealand are always favorite for the tournament. West Indies seems to be a bit weaker compared to other test playing countries as they are missing almost all of their regular players due to conflict over contract with the board.



One thing I can not understand that why ICC chose not to include all the test playing countries in such an important tournament. Cricket is not yet popular sport throughout the world. Cricket has not had a strong hold in a big part of Europe and Africa, and the entire North and South America. In this circumstance, I just can not see any justification of leaving out Bangladesh and Zimbabwe from the tournament when both the teams are eligible for ICC World Cup. I hope ICC officials know it very well that their job is to increase the popularity of cricket all across the world, not to restrict the sport to a limited number of countries by leaving two test playing nations, where cricket is already an established sport, out of such an important tournament.



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