This final is going to feature a rare event in international cricket: a championship match without a South Asian country. In the last two T20 World Cups, we had Pakistan and India as the victors (the first, in 2007, saw the two play against each other). In the ODI area, it’s a long-established tradition: 2007 (Sri Lanka); 2003 (India); 1999 (Pakistan); 1996 (Sri Lanka); 1992 (Pakistan). Granted, the opponents in all but one of these games were Australian, but you get the drift. The Champions Trophy has also been harder to crack; a South Asian team has not been a contender since 2002 (when India and Sri Lanka were declared joint winners).
So what does this all mean? For one thing, most fans in the cricket world will not care about this match. Second, South Asian teams have been very, very good. (The small sample of cricketing nations hurts this conclusion.) Third, this final is somewhat fitting, given that the English Cricket Board first pioneered the T20 format.
In many ways, it’s a return home, given all the recent revelations and scandals that have brought the IPL low. For the past decade or so — maybe since the 1996 World Cup — cricket administrators have watched as the BCCI amassed its power and unbeatable market, leaving the other once-powerful boards (England and Australia) fuming. Sure, this is only one match, and it won’t change the underlying economics, but it’s a spotlight for two teams to say, Look at us, look at us! We matter too!
For the record: I’m rooting for ol’ colonial masters, England. Only because I want Saeed Ajmal to feel better about conceding 18 runs in that last over.