Friday, 31 May 2013

The Champions Trophy starts next week with no clear favourite:

Considering the number of big sporting events taking place this summer it is no wonder that a competition such as the Champions Trophy gets forgotten. The other sporting events which will take prominence are England v Brazil and the U21 European Championships in football, the Lions tour in Rugby, Wimbledon, the Tour de France and the small matter of the Ashes. Even the latest transfer rumours seem to be taking precedent over this competition. This tournament also comes instantly after the New Zealand ODI series, which probably doesn’t help build the profile for the Champions Trophy.

Despite the lack of publicity and anticipation surrounding the Champions Trophy it should actually be a good competition. It is a mini version of the world cup, with only the top eight ranked teams being invited to take part. This may be a little unfair on Bangladesh who could rightly feel that they are a match for any of the top eight sides.

Unlike past international cricket tournaments there is no stand out team. An argument could be made to support any of the eight teams winning the competition. England playing at home should be able to use home advantage to their favour. They also have one of the better bowling attacks to make best use of these conditions. The best bowling side are South Africa with Dale Stein and Morne Morkel leading their attack. The batting line up is pretty good as well but like England they lack consistency outside of test cricket.

Many people have called the current Australian side one of their worst in their history. I do not buy this argument. They have the bowlers to trouble any batting line up, their young side could be a surprise package. The current world number one side in ODI cricket are India, the world cup winners will fancy their chances. They now have a genuine swing bowler (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) who can swing the ball both ways. In my opinion if he progresses then he could become another James Ander/Dale Stein. The only problem India has is that they do not do as well in English conditions. The same can be stated for Pakistan who always has good bowlers and inconsistent batsmen.

An outside shot of winning the trophy is the West Indies, the current world T20 champions are packed with talented players. They have Gayle, Pollard and Bravo in their ranks, three players on red hot form from IPL 2013. They won the Champions Trophy the last time it was held in England. They are a team that could win the tournament or go out in the group stages. When considering winners of the tournament Sri Lanka cannot be discounted, they have a habit of making international finals. If one team were slightly below the rest it could be New Zealand, but they have special players who could win a short tournament like this.
My biggest concern about the competition is the weather, we have not had many good days recently and this could put a real dampener on proceedings. If I were to predict a potential winner I would have to choose the West Indies but as stated above it will be a guessing game.

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