Should the Champs Trophy be scrapped?
The excellent David Miller has just given South Africans a good reason to glance a little further down the road, and dare I say it, with a faint glint of expectation. It just takes a string of head-turning dominating performances on a superior stage to really make a difference in the career curve of an individual. South Africa have found another one. In fact, South Africa now have a veritable bottleneck of guys who have made essential self-believing breakthroughs over the last couple of seasons.
This scintillating performance from Miller is even more welcome now that Kallis has decided to carefully massage the remainder of his career. I for one hope that his decision is in line with Gary Kirsten’s thinking that Jacques will best serve his country if he exclusively wears white. David Miller has arrived and importantly his clinically destructive style may just be the tonic required to fill that void that has hamstrung batting during the key late overs. Not since the heady, explosive Klusener days of 1999 has someone consistently influenced outcomes with savage brutality.
The frenetic nature of the IPL has entertained and again enriched but in the process ensured that key individuals have expanded, developed, and maintained shape. That is a very good sign for South Africa when one considers how superbly most have performed in India. More to the point, it is exactly a month before the first game of the Champions Trophy fills our screens and SA’s best will be bristling with form.
We all know that any ICC event has an elevated sub-plot these days for South African players and viewers alike who have collectively shuddered at the ignominy of premature exits. This time around again the stakes are high and expectations familiar but it will be imperative that teams hit their straps from the get-go as there is little time to find rhythm. Thunderbirds need to ignite in all departments from day one and continue flaring for the concise duration of just 18 days. South Africa have drawn the opening clash against World Cup winners India in Cardiff and that promises to be a high-octane kick-start to what is shaping up as a desirable tournament.
This event will be culled at completion to accommodate the obsession with the briefest format in the future so it is time to appreciate the three weeks of June that will mercifully discard any team not in tune with demands.
I have a question for you.
Should the Champions Trophy actually be consigned to the scrap heap? Following the recurrent frustrations experienced routinely watching elongated ICC World Cups that flatter to deceive for almost two months, littered with mismatched games and one-sided results, is this event now not the perfect format? The top eight sides playing across two groups will clash smartly over 50 overs, hopefully in veritable sunshine, with every single game carrying serious weight and consequence. The intensity of this lean event in the historic bedrock of the game will create a spectacle to be cherished. This event will be edgier and sharper than any previous ICC events since the 1992 World Cup when similar fixture guidelines were followed and the eager cricketing public were not subjected to swollen finance-driven measures.
Following the initial explosion of T20 cricket and the success of that format, many were eagerly baying for the blood of the 50-over game. I suggest that maybe now that T20 is combusting at a rate that is proving difficult to contain it is time to take stock once again.
Of all the ICC events, this will be the one that satisfies from most angles. It is a concise, star-studded, high-impact occasion that will sustain interest due to the cut-throat competitiveness. It has finally discovered its best agenda after years of loitering at the crossroads with little purpose and now presents a terse challenge that should excite all. It has evolved from a self-enriching financially driven model designed to fill a calendar gap to an explosive elite event of significance. It is currently what the World Cup ought to be, and as an enticing caveat, note that almost any team can win.
Make no mistake, South Africa will be a feared opponent in June and many of the individuals involved wearing the gold and green will benefit from being fresh from fine-tuning their games at the IPL.
David Miller is the latest game-breaker to prove that opportunity breeds success which in turn translates to belief – a very powerful word in elite sport. Miller has now given other teams another reason to be very wary of the excellence of South Africa.