At the first competition in Bangladesh in late 1998, it was two victorious South Africans who took advantage of the low, slow conditions to make the biggest impact. Jacques Kallis’s match-winning unbeaten 113 against Sri Lanka enabled him to leap ten places to 11th and Pat Symcox – revelling in being thrown the new ball – found the conditions in Dhaka much to his liking as he moved up to within touching distance of the top ten in the bowling rankings.
New Zealand were the surprise winners when the show moved to Kenya in 2000. Their hero was diminutive left-hander Roger Twose, whose three excellent innings moved him up to fourth place. Tournament top-scorer Sourav Ganguly closed the gap on top-placed Michael Bevan to just twelve points, and an average of 209 was a welcome return to form for Saeed Anwar who ended the tournament knocking on the door of the world’s top ten. The competition saw the debut on the world stage of Brett Lee as he entered the world’s top twenty for the first time, despite his Australian team being beaten by India in their only game.
India and Sri Lanka shared the trophy in 2002 and Virender Sehwag’s 271 runs lifted him twenty-nine places to eleventh. Team-mate Zaheer Khan’s eight wickets saw him ruse to his career-best position of seventh. The top two at the time – Muttiah Muralitharan and Glenn McGrath – continued their domination of the bowling Rankings with healthy hauls of wickets and the gap between second placed McGrath and Shaun Pollock in third grew to over 150 points by the end of the competition.
England came within a whisker of winning the competition on home soil in 2004. Their hero with the bat was Marcus Trescothick who scored nearly a hundred more runs than anyone else, and rose to second in the world, just seven points behind Jacques Kallis. Played late in the season, it was not surprising that pace bowlers made the biggest impressions with Shaun Pollock, Andrew Flintoff, Makhaya Ntini and Shoaib Akhtar making strides. Steve Harmison – showing no ill effects with the white ball which were to plague him later in his career – took eight cheap wickets and moved into the world’s top twenty for the first time.
Back in the subcontinent in 2006, three left-handed openers became the batting stars. Chris Gayle slammed three centuries to move up to second in the world, behind only Michael Hussey. Sri Lanka’s rookie Upul Tharanga hit two centuries of his own to move into the world’s top twenty, and not to be outdone, Shahriar Nafees hit a then-National record unbeaten 123 to move into the top forty. With the ball, Ian Bradshaw continued his love affair with the Champions Trophy to reach his career-best second place. Jerome Taylor lit up the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai with a memorable hat-trick against Australia to move into the world’s top thirty, alongside Lasith Malinga.
It remains to be seen who the stars of the 2009 competition will be, but if past tournaments are anything to go by, it is a golden opportunity to make an impact on the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings.