"The final was the first time that I have experienced a match between the two great rivals live, and the atmosphere at the ground was just electric," says Mike Hussey.
Michael Hussey won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 and ICC Champions Trophy 2006 and 2009 with Australia. Between 2004 and 2013, he represented his country in 79 Tests in which he scored 6235 runs, 185 ODIs in which he scored 5442 runs and 38 T20Is in which he scored 721 runs.
For so many fans around the world, it was a dream final in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 between India and Pakistan. It was reported that over a billion people were tuning into the contest at The Oval.
The final was the first time that I have experienced a match between the two great rivals live, and the atmosphere at the ground was just electric. There was no malice between the players nor between the fans of the two passionate cricket-loving countries. There just seemed to be a healthy respect for each other and the game was played in great spirit.
Pakistan was the underdog coming into the final but there was a feeling of destiny about it. Tournament play is all about peaking at the right time and after a poor start to the tournament, most pundits gave it no chance of winning. However, by the time it lifted the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 at The Oval, it was undoubtedly playing its best cricket. Huge congratulations need to go to Mickey Arthur, Sarfraz Ahmed, the support staff and players for showing great character and turning the team’s fortunes around.
As the tournament ended, the reputations of some teams and players have grown and some have taken a hit. Unfortunately, from an Australian perspective, not much went right and the team was bundled out early. South Africa, too, unexpectedly, exited the tournament at the group stage after coming in as one of the favourites. It shows that the top teams in the world are very close and anyone can be beaten on a given day. This was shown with Pakistan, which came into the tournament ranked eighth and went all the way through to win the final. Its bowling attack was brilliant with Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan contributing well throughout the tournament but the emergence of a couple of newer players in Hasan Ali and Fakhar Zaman, who scored a brilliant century in the final, is exciting for the future for Pakistan.
England has shown plenty of improvement in the last two years and should come into the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 as one of the favourites. The fearless brand of cricket it is playing is exciting to watch and it have some real quality in the squad that should only get better in the future. Ben Stokes has emerged as one of, if not, the best all-rounders in the world.
India has a batting order that every team would be envious of, with Shikhar Dhawan’s love affair of batting in England continuing, but it also has a somewhat unheralded bowling attack that has been very effective. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah form a great combination who complement each other very well, and the spin options of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja keep the pressure on in the middle overs. There is a nice blend of youth and experience in this Indian team.
Some of the other players to really impress have been Tamim Iqbal from Bangladesh, Kusal Mendis from Sri Lanka and Kane Williamson from New Zealand, who all played some meaningful innings throughout the tournament. With the ball, Adam Milne from New Zealand, Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Pradeep and South African Imran Tahir picked up crucial wickets throughout the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.
This Champions Trophy was an excellent tournament with some high quality one-day cricket played that has created plenty of interest around the world. I feel that a tournament like this should end the debate about the future of ODI cricket. This is a fantastic form of the game that the players love playing, and the supporters have shown that they still enjoy the spectacle of what one-day cricket can offer. One-day cricket caters to different types of players, such as the power hitters, players who work the ball and run hard, all-rounders, spinners, skilled and pace bowlers. The other thing about one-day cricket is that the game has a chance to ebb and flow more than in T20 cricket. If your team gets off to a bad start, there are opportunities to slowly change the momentum and get back into the match. I believe as long as the matches have context, then there is a place for all three forms of the game to survive and thrive in the future.