THE West Indies were the latest side to lay their hands on the ICC Champions Trophy in a nail-biting finish on a chilly London evening when the jamboree was held from Sept 10 to 25 at the fag end of the 2004 English season.
The format that was found in some quarters to be flawed when Sri Lanka hosted the event two years earlier was retained with 12 teams divided into four equal groups.
The scheduling of the competition so late in the season led to Wisden describing the whole exercise as “the tournament that veers between being the second important in world cricket and ludicrous waste of time”. Those fears were further compounded by the inclusion of the United States of America, a bunch of mostly expatriates who were a mixture of bit-and-pieces amateur cricketers, most of them well past their playing days!
The tournament, in a nutshell, lacked the flair associated with ICC’s showpiece — the World Cup — and crowd stayed away baring a handful of fixtures because of early starts and onset of autumn. Wisden scornfully summed the atmosphere thus: “The main memories [2004 Champions Trophy] will be of cold and wet, of organisational disasters and of the general sense of doomed competition that did cricket far more harm than good, all of which was obvious and avoidable”.
On the field though, there were flurries of exciting moments. In the opening game, spread over two days because of rain, Michael Vaughan’s England, the eventual finalists, brushed aside their Pool ‘D’ rivals Zimbabwe by 152 runs at Edgbaston. Paul Collingwood’s unbeaten 80 boost the home side to 299-7 — a total was well beyond the reach of Tatenda Taibu’s outfit.
England, inspired by Andrew Flintoff’s dazzling 104 (off 91 balls, nine boundaries and three sixes) then won a truncated fixture against Sri Lanka by 49 runs at the Rose Bowl in Southampton after the islanders were asked to chase 145 in 24 overs under Duckworth-Lewis Method.
The USA’s first taste of big-time cricket was quite bitter when New Zealand annihilated in Pool ‘A’ tie at The Oval. Nathan Astle blasted 13 boundaries and six sixes in an unbeaten 145 from 151 balls as the Black Caps amassed the highest total in Champions Trophy history by posting 347-4. Astle also equalled Andy Flower’s trophy record individual score which the Zimbabwe made against India in 2002.
Astle and Scott Styris (75) added 153 for the third wicket but it was Craig McMillan who actually provided the final touches as he lashed seven sixes and two fours in scoring 64 off mere 27 deliveries in the unfinished partnership of 136 with Astle. Jacob Oram’s five for 36 destroyed the Americans for 137.
USA fared even worst when Australia cleaned them up for 65 — the lowest-ever completed total in Champions Trophy to this day — in a nine-wicket thrashing at the Rose Bowl in Southampton with Michael Kasprowicz and Jason Gillespie sharing the spoils with four scalps apiece.
Australia clinched the last-four place from this group by handing their Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand a crushing seven-wicket defeat. Andrew Symonds powered their chase for 199 with a buccaneering 71 off 47 balls (seven fours and four sixes).
India warmed up for their first Champions Trophy meeting with traditional rivals Pakistan with a 98-run defeat of Kenya in the Pool ‘C’ game at Southampton. Pakistan had to endure a frustrating day at Edgbaston where heavy rain washed out the entire day’s action before getting past Kenya by seven wickets on the reserve day.
The Kenyans had no clues against the spin duo of Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik after Inzamam-ul-Haq decided to insert the Africans in. Kenya, in fact, got off to a promising start by reaching 67-1. But Afridi (5-11 in six overs, the best figures in the trophy achieved by anyone until 2006) and Malik (3-15 in six) took over as nine wickets fell for 27 runs in 69 balls.
Four days later, the tournament witnessed its biggest clash, as Pakistan held their nerves at Edgbaston to edge out India from the semi-final race. Put into bat, India overcame a shaky start to reach 200 all out; Rahul Dravid was instrumental in the recovery with a composed 67. The Indians’ tormentors were Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (4-25 in nine overs) and Shoaib Akhtar (4-36 in 9.5 overs).
Irfan Pathan then took three wickets in his opening six overs to revive India’s prospects but Yousuf Youhana put paid to those notions with a magnificent exhibition of batsmanship.
Despite struggling with cramps, the future Mohammad Yousuf made 81 from 114 deliveries (five fours and one six) to steer Pakistan through to their first semi-final. Captain Inzamam (41) extended good support in the 75-run fourth wicket partnership. But it was Afridi’s blistering 12-ball 27 that sealed India’s fate.
The West Indies-South Africa battle at The Oval decided the Pool ‘B’ semi-final qualifiers. Herschelle Gibbs’ third trophy hundred in four matches (101 off 135 balls, nine fours ad one six) guided Proteas to 246-6. The West Indies, who had prevailed past Bangladesh by 138 runs on the back of 192-run opening stand between Chris Gayle (99) and Wavell Hinds (82), progressed into last four with five wickets and seven balls to spare.
When Australia met their old foes England in the first semi-final at Edgbaston, they ran into an in-form home captain who inspired his charges to a six-wicket romp. Vaughan’s 2-42 were chief responsible for curtailing Ricky Ponting’s men to 259-9. The skipper then produced a sublime knock of 86 as he and opener Marcus Trescothick (81) put on 140 for the second wicket against a four-pronged pace attack to lay the platform.
The other pre-final also delivered a one-side outcome as the West Indies took advantage of Pakistan’s ill-advised decision to bat first on a Rose Bowl track renowned for seam bowling. It took less than 39 overs for Pakistan to capitulate for a measly 131 — a total which was surpassed in 28.1 overs with seven wickets to spare.
The final threw up a thrilling encounter at The Oval. At Lord’s in 1979, the West Indies had crushed the English hopes of a World Cup title on home soil.
England couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to take revenge as Brian Lara’s side subsided to 147-8 in the 34th over in pursuit of quite attainable 218-run target after Trescothick (104 off 124 balls, 14 fours) virtually single-handedly inspired England to a fighting total.
Wicket-keeper Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw, the left-arm seamer, somehow hung in there to forge a remarkable unbroken 71-run partnership that ultimately ended a pretty long West Indies wait for a major title. Browne (35 off 55 balls, two fours) and Man-of-the-Match Bradshaw (34 off 51, five boundaries) batted sensibly as they avoided contact with the good deliveries and taking no risks after Flintoff had taken three wickets including the prized one of Lara whose team again had the last laugh.
This is the fourth of a six-part series in which Dawn looks back at the past happenings in the ICC Champions Trophy, an event which is aptly described as the ‘mini’ World Cup.strong text