Elated after leading his team to a second successive Champions Trophy title, Australian skipper Ricky Ponting said the “devalued” event has been revived in this edition, giving a much-needed boost to One-day cricket.
“On a few previous occasions, I felt there were a lot of other associate nations and it had kind of devalued the Champions Trophy. But this time a couple of weeks and it was over. The little changes, which ICC made here, the players, really enjoyed it,” Ponting said after the six-wicket win over New Zealand in the final.
The Champions Trophy had been dubbed meaningless by quite a few former cricketers like Shane Warne but Ponting felt having a shorter tournament minus the minnows has helped make it exciting.
Ponting said the event produced some excellent cricket and proved a good advertisement for One-dayers, which are struggling to pull in the crowds in the face of a Twenty20 storm.
“There’s certainly place for both Twenty20 and 50-over cricket. Tournaments like this would certainly help the game. 50-over cricket gets full endorsement from me,” he said.
Ponting lavished praise on all-rounder Shane Watson, who struck his second successive hundred to steer Australia to victory after a wobbly start.
“In the last couple of months we have started to see the real Watson. He wasn’t accustomed to opening the innings but given an opportunity in the Ashes, he played brilliantly and shown everybody how good a cricketer he can be,” said Ponting.
Ponting was delighted how two young members of his side, Watson and Cameron White, who produced a match-winning 128-run stand for the third wicket, came good in the finals.
“It doesn’t get any harder. A big game, chasing a low score, being down on 2 for 6 and with two young guys at the crease. It’s one of the strengths of the Australian team that when big names don’t produce the goods, somebody else puts up his hand,” he said.
“I am ecstatic. It’s a great reward for all, whether coaches or guys. We have been five months on the road and to be able to finish off in this manner — there sure would be some good celebrations tonight,” he added.
Ponting said winning the Champions Trophy is the high point of a tumultuous 18 months during which the Aussies lost the coveted Ashes series to England.
“Looking at the last 18 months, this has been a real positive for us. The way we have performed is a really good sign for us,” he said.