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