Kill the Champions Trophy now

Ben Pobjie Columnist

By , Ben Pobjie is a Roar Expert

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    Does anyone care about the Champions Trophy? (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

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    It always sucks when rain ruins a cricket match.

    You get excited, you get your head in the ‘patriotic fervour’ space, you prepare for an epic sporting battle, and then you get a sad wet fizzing sound as the flame of competition is extinguished by fickle nature.

    The washouts of Australia’s first two Champions Trophy games were like that, and yet they were also strangely apt – what is more fitting than a washed-out game for a washed-out tournament?

    The matches began with an air of anticipation, only for the realisation to grow that nothing of significance would happen, which is basically the exact blueprint of the Champions Trophy itself.

    It’s hard to narrow down the reasons for the decline of the 50-over format to one specific factor, but if you want to make the effort, the Champions Trophy would do.

    Created by an ICC executive to win a bet that he couldn’t invent an international cricketing event of less importance than the 1988 Bicentennial Test, the Champions Trophy has grown from these humble beginnings to become one of the sporting world’s genuinely aggravating white elephants.

    Who cares about the Champions Trophy? I confess that as a true Australian I have no interest in or knowledge of what people in other countries think, so maybe around the globe it is considered a riveting event followed closely by billions whose personal happiness lives or dies on the results.

    Maybe nations who haven’t reached the point of seeing the World Cup as their own personal plaything need to grasp at any straw they can.

    I won’t, then, say definitively that nobody cares about the tournament. I will simply say that if somebody cares about the tournament, they are wrong and should take stock of their lives with urgency.

    (Image: AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    A good measure of a tournament’s priority in the sporting hierarchy is how well its high points are remembered down the years.

    Does anyone remember anything that has ever happened at a Champions Trophy? Every so often I read an article that references a time when Australia won it, and I have no idea what they’re talking about.

    When did that happen? Was that during World Series Cricket? Did a rebel South African tour win it on a stopover?

    I’m not even sure how often the Champions Trophy is on. Every two years? Every four years? To be honest it seems like it’s on every five months, but that’s probably just because things you wish would never happen always seem like they happen more often.

    It’s like how I only have three children but it feels like I keep having new ones every few weeks.

    The fact it’s called the ‘Champions Trophy’ is another issue. In one sense it’s a tautology: every trophy is a champions trophy because ‘champion’ is a word for ‘one who wins a trophy’.

    In another sense it’s a blatant lie because it implies that to be in the tournament you have to be a champion of something, which is untrue, because England is in it.

    There is no champion requirement to enter the Champions Trophy. In fact the very existence of the Champions Trophy dilutes the concept of ‘champion’, meaning that if you are a champion of something, being in the Champions Trophy means you’re less of a champion than you used to be.

    Australia, for example, has now won only three world cups. The winner of this year’s Champions Trophy will be declared the champions’ champion, but the two champions there cancel each other out, meaning they will actually be nothing.

    If you care about cricket, caring about the Champions Trophy should be anathema. It is a tournament that eats away at the game’s credibility and makes it look foolish in the eyes of the world, which are all focused on sporting events that retain a little dignity, like the French Open and the Victorian gridiron league.

    There are those who claim that modern cricket is plagued by a bloated international calendar full of irrelevance and cynical cash-grabs.

    The Champions Trophy not only gives these people ammunition, it forces the rest of us to get down on our knees and beg tearfully for forgiveness for having doubted them.

    Kill this idiotic tournament now. Shut it down like an English summer shuts down cricket in general. Save ODIs from themselves.

    Having said all that, if Australia fails to make the semis, sack Steve Smith immediately.

    Ben Pobjie
    Ben Pobjie

    Ben Pobjie is a writer & comedian writing on The Age, New Matilda and The Roar, whose promising rugby career was tragically cut short the day he stopped playing rugby and had a pizza instead. The most he has ever cried was the day Balmain lost the 1989 grand final. Today he enjoys watching Wallabies, Swans, baggy greens, and Storms. Ben is currently performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.