Tomorrow sees the start of the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy with India and South Africa kicking us off at Cardiff. Here we give you a straight talking team by team definition of who is who, what is what and we promise not to DEAL in any cheap puns at our good friend Tulisa! There will be no Dutch, Irish, Scots, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh or Afghanistan, just the top eight sides trading it toe to toe (apart from in Martin Guptill’s case). The format will be three group games with the top two reaching the semi finals from each group. With the final at Edgbaston on June 23rd this will be a top month cricket wise, and there will be no better place to follow the action than here at www.themiddlestump.co.uk
A decent seam attack if fit especially with two new balls in the game. What worries me though is if Finn, Broad or Anderson aren’t fit, are Bresnan or Dernbach the answer? Dernbach is the Stella Artois of this team as he is reassuringly expensive, and Bresnan is a hit or miss candidate. Silly shots at the top of the order need to be eradicated and Jonathan Trott needs to bat through games if England are to do well. I’m interested to see how Buttler and Root get on too.
The struggles of the current Aussies are a source of many a jape on Twitter at present but they still have a lot of cricketers who can bat, bowl and field thanks to chasing the rupees of the IPL. Starc will be a handful especially in English conditions, and if Shane Watson can present a straight bat providing he has presented his Powerpoint homework they could be decent. Struggling at present, but never write off an Aussie, especially a wounded one. However, they look as attractive to most pundits as oral sex with Catherine Zeta Jones at present!
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Could be dark horses and used to English conditions having been here for a month or so. Can their top order get through two new balls? The attack is decent and Daniel Vettori adds value and experience. Brendon McCullum is not only an excellent captain but also a dangerous customer in this form of the game and they scrap and fight for each other. Their game versus the Aussies could be decisive and it wouldn’t surprise me to see this lot qualify out of the group.
You can never tell with these guys. Malinga will sling ‘em down and Sangakkara will get runs but both these guys are the wrong side of thirty now. Perera gives it a tap towards the end, and like the Aussies have a lot of guys who have played in the IPL. They tend to perform well in Asia and not elsewhere, but never write them off. They’ll scrap and battle all the way but not sure if they have the minerals to qualify from the group.
In MS Dhoni they have the best finisher in world cricket, yet arguably the worst captain tactically. Kohli will give it a whack at the top of the order and I like the look of the youngster Kumar, who can swing it miles at a decent lick too. A very tough group though but if they play well, and utilise their deep and experienced batting order against the new balls, they’ll do ok.
The Tottenham Hotspur of world cricket. Can be brilliant to watch at times, often getting their fans excited, only to let them down at the last minute. Lacking Umar Gul, it will be down to youngster Junaid Khan to carry the seam bowling and Saeed Ajmal and Mohammed Hafeez with the spin. The batting worries me, no Younis Khan and a lot will rely on young Jamshed. This lot never fail to surprise though.
No Kallis, no Smith and De Villiers will have to bat, keep wicket and captain well for them to qualify. He gets his match fees worth doesn’t he? Probably the best fielding team in the tournament their attack is a right handful with Steyn, Philander and Morkel who will take advantage of the two ball policy. However, when the pressure is on I have seen sperm less frozen in an IVF clinic, than these boys have done in big cricket tournaments. Steyn, just like John Inverarity, has a bad side and may miss the opening couple of games and the deliciously named Quinton de Kock comes into the squad as cover for AB.
The current holders of the trophy, and any team with Chris Gayle at the top of the order is in with a shout. I’m interested to see what all the hyperbole is about surrounding 6’7” Jason Holder, the 21 year old Bajan paceman. Dwayne Bravo skippers them, but doubts surround the technique of their top order especially in English conditions. A lot of limited overs cricket experience should see them qualify from the group.
What the bookies say?
What the bookies say?
If you love a flutter as much as you will be pleased to know that there are healthy markets for the tournament. South Africa are favourites at 9/2 but with their injuries and nerves I wouldn't back them with stolen money. Australia don't look value for money at 6/1 and neither do India. Pakistan come at a more-than-backable 8/1 with New Zealand worth a couple of dollars at 12/1.
If you are looking for batsmen to score big and line your pockets then look no further than Virat Kohli at 14/1 which is a price as big as his ego, but one that shows massive value. Hashim Amla is the favourite with most turf accountants at 10/1 but there will be a lot of pressure put on the man with the splendid chin barnet. If you want to back a Saffa, look no further than Faf du Plessis at 33/1 - a great each way shout. The in form Martin Guptill is at 33's with England's Jos Buttler worth a squid at 150/1.
The top bowler catagory is tighter with bookies unable to split Lasith Malinga and Dale Steyn at 12/1. My money would be on Malinga as I think he may play 2-3 games more than Steyn. Saeed Ajmal is the leading spinner at 16/1 with Sunil Narine at 18's. Junaid Khan will be vital to Pakistan's hopes - he's at 20's as is the returning-to-form Stuart Broad. Ravi Rampaul will take wickets in England conditions and may be worth a punt at 40/1. Shane Watson is 80/1.
Big hitting and quick scoring will determine the outcome of this years Champions Trophy so why not get on our very own Jonathan Trott for the fastest 50 at a mouth watering 100/1? Gayle is favourite at 9's.