It was only apt that the last match of the 15-year old Champions Trophy was in effect a Twenty20 game. For as we all know, the main reason of the ICC for bumping off this tournament is that they can cram in more irrelevant Twenty20 leagues into the calendar. The Test championship is of course, nothing but hogwash.
The Champions Trophy final lost its significance as the final match of a ‘global 50-overs tournament’ the moment it got converted into a 20-over affair. In other words, it became just another Twenty20 international, like the ones that unnecessarily pepper the international schedule, like the one which has been bizarrely scheduled between England and New Zealand for tomorrow. It became nothing but a lottery, and the side which gambled more smartly ultimately won. It was as ridiculous as having a six-a-side final for football’s Confederations Cup. Especially after this fiasco, I wonder if anyone is going to miss the Champions Trophy at all.
All the ICC needed to do was schedule a reserve day for today, i.e June 24th, so that even if the game got interrupted yesterday, it could have been simply continued from where it stopped, on the reserve day. At least there would have been scope for a full 50-0vers final. But the ICC were keen on adding to their list of poorly-organised finals in multi-nation ODI tournaments. The most embarrassing instance was the 2007 World Cup final, where in spite of having a reserve day, it was insisted upon that the two teams, Australia and Sri Lanka, contest a 38-over match which ended in near darkness. In 2002, the Champions Trophy was shared between Sri Lanka and India when the game was re-started on the reserve day instead of just continuing it, leading to a double wash-out. Will the ICC ever learn?
The final itself was not short of controversy. The decision which resulted in Ian Bell’s dismissal was shocking – even the commentators could not believe it. I wonder what third umpire Bruce Oxenford was thinking when he decided to give Bell out when it was clear to all and sundry that his foot was alright after all, and that the benefit of any doubt goes to the batsman. The decision might have cost England their first major 50-overs trophy. India won after some strange ‘out-of-the-box- thinking by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni – his decision to give Ishant Sharma an extra over ultimately proved to be the turning point, as the lanky seamer took two wickets in two balls to begin England’s slide toward a 5-run loss, when the hosts had the match in the bag, needing 20 runs to win off 16 balls with 6 wickets remaining.
The pitches on offer for quite a few of the games (including the final) were unusually ‘sub-continental’ in nature. Nevertheless, India no doubt played fearless cricket throughout the tournament, having been regarded by many as deserving winners, and I would certainly like to believe that. Hopefully, the farce was limited to just the organisation of the game.