Gaut­eng gears up for Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: The count­down to the 2009 ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy has be­gun, with just over five weeks to go be­fore the open­ing match be­tween South Africa and Sri Lanka at Su­perS­port Park on Septem­ber 22.

The top eight cricket-play­ing coun­tries will bat­tle it out over two weeks to be named the new ICC Cham­pi­ons, with the win­ners pock­et­ing $2-mil­lion.

The run­ners-up will re­ceive $1-mil­lion, the los­ing semi­fi­nal­ists will take home $400,000 and the teams fin­ish­ing third in each group will win $100,000.

The Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy is some­times seen as the poor re­la­tion of the ICC World Cup, but ICC chief ex­ec­u­tive Ha­roon Lor­gat said at the of­fi­cial launch­ing of the tour­na­ment that this year’s ver­sion would be very dif­fer­ent.

“It’s a short tour­na­ment, with only the best teams tak­ing part. It will be played at two world-class venues, Su­perS­port Park in Cen­tu­rion and the Wan­der­ers in Jo­han­nes­burg,” he said.

“The prize money has been in­creased sub­stan­tially, with a to­tal of $4-mil­lion on of­fer. I think the new for­mat, which will fea­ture the best play­ers in the world, will make it a very ex­cit­ing event.”

Lor­gat re­vealed that each Man of the Match would win an exclusive watch worth about R60,000, and each mem­ber of the winning team will win a unique ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy jacket, which only a cham­pion will be en­ti­tled to wear.

“This will be a great specta- cle,” he said. “There is no ques­tion that the World Cup is still the premier ICC event, but the short, sharp for mat of the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy will make it a very ex­cit­ing event for the cricket-loving pub­lic.

“Be­cause the two venues are so close to­gether, teams don’t have to travel, and cricket fans from other coun­tries will also be able to stay in one place, and en­joy see­ing the world’s best play­ers in action.”

Cricket South Africa (CSA) Pres­i­dent Dr Mtu­tuzeli Nyoka said there were no re­grets about Su­perS­port Park host­ing the open­ing match as well as the fi­nal.

“Su­perS­port Park is a world­class venue and re­ceived ac­co­lades from par­tic­i­pants in the In­dian Premier League ear­lier this year. I have no doubt that Su­perS­port Park will put on su­perb open­ing and clos­ing cer­e­monies.”

Su­perS­port Park has the lion’s share of matches, with South Africa play­ing all its matches there. The an­nounce­ment of the match pro­gramme co­in­cided with the bit­ter dis­pute be­tween CSA and the Gaut­eng Cricket Board, which re­sulted in CSA with­draw­ing three in­ter na­tional matches from the Wan­der­ers.

The dis­pute was fi­nally re­solved on Wed­nes­day, and the three matches against Eng­land – a Twenty20, a one-day in­ter­na­tional and a Test match – were re­stored to the Wan­der­ers. How­ever, no change was made to the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy pro­gramme.

Ticket prices for the tour­na­ment have been kept low, rang­ing from R40 to R140 for the stands, and R35 for seats on the grass em­bank­ments.

Tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Don McIn­tosh said the idea was to at­tract fam­i­lies to the matches.

“The tour na­ment takes place dur­ing the school hol­i­days and we be­lieve that one­day cricket is ideally suited for fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment,” he said. – Sapa

AP PHOTO

ONE DAY THIS WILL BE OURS: South Africa cricket cap­tain Graeme Smith with the ICC Cham­pi­ons tro­phy at the event’s launch in Jo­han­nes­burg

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