Can Australia win a third ICC Champions Trophy?

Kersi Meher-Homji Columnist

By , Kersi Meher-Homji is a Roar Expert

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    With the dispute between Cricket Australia and Australian Cricket Association still unresolved, it is difficult to predict as to how Australia will fare in the Champions Trophy commencing on 1 June.

    I suggest that both CA and ACA should get down from their high horses and discuss in a mature amicable way as soon as possble.

    Australia is the only country to win the Champions Trophy twice; in 2006-07 beating the 2004 reigning champs West Indies in Mumbai and in 2009-10 beating New Zealand in Centurion.

    The current winners are India, who defeated England in Birmingham by five runs in 2013, when rain reduced the final to 20 overs per team.

    The first country to win the Trophy was South Africa in 1998-99 in Bangladesh, when it was called the Wills International Cup. They beat West Indies by four wickets in the final. Then New Zealand won it in 2001-02 in Kenya, beating India by four wickets.

    Due to persistent rains during the final in 2002-03 Sri Lanka and India shared the trophy in Sri Lanka. West Indies won it in England in 2004 defeating the home team by two wickets. Then Australia lifted the Trophy twice in a row, in India in 2006-07 and in South Africa in 2009-10, followed by India winning in England in 2013.

    One question: why have Australia and New Zealand not hosted the Champions Trophy even once when England will be staging it for the third time next month?

    The Australian squad is a good mixture of talent and experience, aggressive batsmen, quickies and spinners. However, the omission of Usman Khawaja is hard to explain.

    Australia will play two warm-up games – one against Sri Lanka at the Oval next Friday, 26 May, and one against Pakistan in Birmingham on 29 May. The Aussies start their Champions Trophy campaign in group A, where their opponents are New Zealand at Birmingham on 2 June, Bangladesh at the Oval on 5 June and England at Birmingham on 10 June.

    South Africa, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are in Group B, and the semi-finals are on 14 and 15 June, with the final at the Oval on 18 June.

    Let us revisit the two finals Australia won, both under Ricky Ponting’s captaincy. The first was in 2006-07. They met reigning champs West Indies at the Brabourne Stadium in Bombay on 5 November 2006.

    The Windies started well, and openers Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle put on 49 runs. Then Nathan Bracken (3-22), Glenn McGrath and Shane Watson (two wickets each) struck and the Windies were rolled out for 138 in 30.4 overs.

    With Watson (57 not out) and Damien Martyn (47 not out) adding 103 runs for the unbroken third wicket, Australia rattled up 2-116 in 28.1 overs and won by eight wickets. The result was by DL method as rain had interrupted play when Australia was 2-52 after ten overs and the win target had become 116 in 35 overs. Watson was the obvious man of the final and Gayle the man of the series.

    The second win was in 2009-10. In the next final at Centurion on 5 October 2009 New Zealand scored 9-200 (Martin Guptil 40, Nathan Hauritz 3-37, Brett Lee 2-45). Once again Watson was at his scintillating best, thumping an unbeaten 105 off 129 balls with ten fours and four sixes. With Cameron White (62) he added 128 for the third wicket.

    Australia totalled 4-206 (Kyle Mills 3-27) in 45.2 overs to win by six wickets with 28 balls in hand. Watson was once again Man of the Final and Ricky Ponting the Man of the Series who also received a golden bat.

    Chris Gayle is the most prolific batsman in Champions Trophy with 791 runs at 52.73 (highest score 133 not out) in 17 matches. New Zealand’s fast-medium bowler Kyle Mills has taken most wickets, 28 at 17.25 in 15 matches.

    Ponting provides a paradox in the Champions Trophy. Although he has scored most runs for an Australian (593 runs at 39.53, highest score 111 not out in 18 matches) and was awarded a golden bat in 2009, in the two finals he led Australia to victory he made only zero and one.

    So let’s get ready for cold, late nights next month watching the progress of Steven Smith’s men in England.

    The Australian squad
    Steven Smith (captain), David Warner (vice-captain), Matthew Wade (w.k.), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa.

    Kersi Meher-Homji
    Kersi Meher-Homji

    Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.

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