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ICC Champions Trophy launched
As the top eight-ranked ODI teams in the world prepare to descend on South Africa next month, the ICC Champions Trophy 2009 was officially launched in Johannesburg today.

In front of a host of champions from a range of other sports, ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said the event would be a showcase of the very best one-day cricket has to offer.

"This ICC Champions Trophy is quite different and more exciting compared to all the ones that went before," said Mr Lorgat.

"Effectively, it is in one location with two world-class venues at The Wanderers and Centurion. It is a short, sharp event with just the top eight-ranked ODI teams taking part in international competition," he said.

"The event is all about prestige. It features the best players competing for a major ICC title with more prize money on offer than ever before with a total of US$4million at stake."

Apart from pushing his side closer towards ultimate glory in the event, there is an extra incentive for individuals to excel during the ICC Champions Trophy. Each man of the match will win an exclusive IWC watch worth US$8,500.

And each member of the winning team will win a unique ICC Champions Trophy winners' jacket which only a champion will be entitled to wear.

The prize-money on offer has grown four-fold since 2006 and is now worth a total of US$4million. The winner will receive US$2million, the runner-up will earn US$1million with the two beaten semi-finalists taking home US$400,000 each. Those teams that finish third in their groups will each win US$100,000.

For the first time the ICC Champions Trophy will feature only the top eight-ranked sides in the world in the only global multi-team 50-over-a-side tournament between the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean and the next edition of that event, in the Asian sub-continent in two years' time.

Those teams - Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, hosts South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies - have been divided into two pools of four, with the top two from each pool progressing to the semi-finals stage.

The action begins on Tuesday 22 September with the Proteas in action against Sri Lanka in a day-night encounter at Centurion and it will end with a day-night final at the same venue on Monday 5 October.

Holder Australia begins the defence of its ICC CT crown on Saturday 26 September against the West Indies in a repeat of the 2006 final.

That match will take place as a day game at The Wanderers, Johannesburg and is part of a blockbuster day of action as, later on, India and Pakistan will go head-to-head in a day-night encounter at Centurion.

The ICC Champions Trophy began life as the ICC Knock-Out in 1998 and was played every two years through to 2006, changing its name for the 2002 edition.

The sides to have won the event are South Africa (in Bangladesh, 1998), New Zealand (Kenya, 2000), India and Sri Lanka (joint winners after the final was washed out in Sri Lanka, 2002), the West Indies (England, 2004) and Australia (India, 2006).

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