Who recognises this scoreline? USA: all out 65 in 24 overs; Australia:
1/66 in 7.5 overs. Australia win by nine wickets in just over two hours

It’s one of the thrilling pool matches
Australia played in the 2004 ICC Champions’ Trophy, and if you’re wondering why
Adam Gilchrist doesn’t want to go to this year’s Trophy in October, you’re getting warm.

The Champions’ Trophy is a biennial one-day
tournament with a history stretching back to 1998. If this makes it sound like
a poor cousin to the World Cup, then I’ve flattered it. Almost no international
cricketers respect the Champions’ Trophy, which they correctly surmise to be a
meaningless lamington drive by the ICC to wring the final dollar, pound, rupee
and rand from the weary cricket public.

Jeff Thomson, no stranger to straight talk,
summed it up in arguing that Australia
should rest Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee for the tournament. “If
we don’t win the Champions Trophy – who really gives a toss?” he hinted.

Gilchrist himself is subtler, but the
thrust is the same: “I think we have to look very, very seriously at that
lead-in to the Ashes. There is the Champions Trophy, and … we are going to have
to be very careful about what we want to prioritise as most important.”

The issue behind all this is player
workload, and though there are various arguments being played out on both sides
– from the uncritically sympathetic, like Mike Selvey in The Guardian,
to Javed Miandad scolding players as if they were uppity indentured servants – the key point is
that cricketers are starting to throw their weight around with more candour
than that modern version of decorum – spin – would normally allow.

Add to this the Indian complaint that the
Trophy has been scheduled right in the middle of the most lucrative part of
their cricket season – an argument only slightly mitigated by the fact that
they are hosting it – and have vowed not to take part in future,
and the Champions’ Trophy looks a shot bird.

Peter Fray

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