Australia come into the 2017 Champions Trophy a jittery unit. Amid the tussle between the board and the players over the payment, some of the minds aren’t fully on the pitch. But instead of forcing the players to take their eye off the task at hand, it could be the motivator for the players to show that they call the shots and hold the stronger hand – especially if they win the title.
The last two times Australia won the Champions Trophy, it occurred in consecutive editions (2006 and 2009). Though a lot has changed since then. From that dominant and powerful force to reckon with, this unit is not fully consistent. But taking them lightly would be a mistake for the teams to make when the event kicks-off on June 1.
Australia, with the most Champions Trophy titles for a team, will remain strong challengers for the title. Since January 2016, Australia have played 36 ODIs and won 21 of them losing 14. This mixed bag of results has seen a demoralising 0-5 whitewash against South Africa and 4-1 home win against Pakistan, 4-1 away win against Sri Lanka, 3-0 home win against New Zealand but most recently two defeats in New Zealand.
The biggest factor in considering Australia a threat for all teams will be due to their strong squad. Recognising their talent potential, Australia have named four seamers in their squad and gone for just one spinner with a simple point of maximising their best resources. Causing a headache for the selectors and team management, there are strong options from the opening slot to further down.
Let’s take a look at the seam options first: Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Josh Hazlewood. Starc has had a decent time away to get fit after suffering an injury against India in the Test series. Now back with a fresh mind, the 2015 World Cup player of the year will be a big boost if he can get the ball to swing in English conditions. Add to that, he holds one of the most lethal Yorkers in world cricket. There is the mouth-watering aspect of employing all four in the same game leaving Adam Zampa, the lone spinner in the squad, on the bench. But it comes with its downsides – lesser batsmen in the side and slow over rates.
An X-Factor in the side is Chris Lynn. He provided the goods for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the recently concluded IPL by batting in the opening slot. But Darren Lehmann remained tight lipped on his inclusion itself with ‘Boof’ hinting at Aaron Finch and David Warner to open the innings.
The Aussies face New Zealand, Bangladesh and England in their three group games.
Squad: Steven Smith (c), David Warner, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Strac, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade(WK), Adam Zampa.