Don Topley’s ICC Champions Trophy preview and prediction
PUBLISHED: 15:56 31 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:00 31 May 2017
DON TOPLEY takes a look at the ICC Champions Trophy in his latest On the Boundary cricket column.
Tomorrow, an ICC world cricket event begins on our home turf with much expected of Eoin Morgan’s England side.
The Champions Trophy is a shortened version of the 50 Over World Cup, with only eight competing teams. It’s all over in just 18 days. The t20 World Cup champions, West Indies didn’t qualify.
England have made the final of the Champions Trophy on two occasions, both times ending up as the bridesmaid and not the bride.
The only world cricket event England have won was in 2011 when Paul Collingwood’s England t20 team won the t20 World Cup, in the Caribbean.
England have rightly started as favourites. They open the event with a game against Bangladesh (10.30am)
Whilst the favourites tag is worthy, ( Morgan’s men have performed well everywhere and even in India) any team can have a poor day with the bat, the ball, spill some ugly catches, or dramatically stumble on a pitch that offers movement as was witnessed at Lord’s on Monday.
With just three matches (Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia) England cannot afford a slip or simple run-rate could decide their fate.
It is unlikely that any favourite tag for any team, in any sport, will have no issues. Form, fitness or selection challenges come into play and England have many:
1) Jason Roy’s recent poor form is an issue.
2) Should in-form Jonny Bairstow play and even replace Roy?
3) Ben Stokes has issues with his knee – should he play as an all-rounder?
4) Chris Woakes has a thigh issue but has to monitor his knee too, as Warwickshire are aware, more so than England.
5) Left arm swing bowler, David Willey, told me only last Saturday, that he is worried about his own form with the ball and that showed as his radar was awry at the Southampton ODI.
When analysing the above it can sometimes overcomplicate things – it can lead to some muddled thinking too. I always try to keep team selection simple.
England have experienced a huge upturn in their results for over a year and Jason Roy remains a match winner at the top of the order.
Together with Alex Hales they can frighten teams with their positive and fearless batting and have the world’s best opening partnership records behind the impressive South Africans, Hashim Amla and Quinton De Kock.
It might need Hales at the other end or the captain, Morgan, to have a quiet word with Roy instructing him to get himself in and take a few more balls before going after the bowling. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially if Roy - who is good enough – can catch up later and make a fine 80.
Bairstow would always do a super job battling for England and he is frequently known for his rear-guard innings. He is in fine form but like many pundits, I, too, would chose Roy for the moment.
It always smacks of panic when changing tactics at the beginning of a tournament.
Stokes may need to be protected as he gives wonderful balance in the side. He bats at 5, but he may not need to bowl if the game is being won – only to bowl if England need him at the early matches.
Woakes, our other all-rounder, offers great depth but will be needed to complete his allocation of overs, so concern there. Having the fit and precious Stokes and Woakes offers the impression that we have 13 men in our XI.
Willey has been ever present and consistent in the ODI side, but has now lost his form. Having the variety of the left armer in the side is invaluable but sadly he won’t start in the XI unless there are injuries.
I sincerely hope England make another final, but I do fancy the Aussies. They have won this trophy twice as have India, but I don’t fancy the Indians unless we suddenly have a heat wave and the pitches become dry, abrasive and over used.
Remember the games come thick and fast at The Oval, Edgbaston and Cardiff.
My three batsmen to watch:
Ben Stokes – England
Quinton De Kock – South Africa
David Warner – Australia
My three bowlers to watch:
Mitchell Starc – Australia
Jasprit Burmrah – India
Mustafizur Rahman - Bangladesh