World cricket’s ugly stepson is all set to have its final hurrah over the next couple of weeks. That is a shame really, because this is the best format at a global format going around. The 50 over World Cup is a bloated beast, the T20 World Cup is, well, T20, and the politics around getting a test equivalent of this seems a bit hard.
This is a great format. No down tie, it will be all done and dusted in just over a fortnight, and every game will mean something. The other pool is a bit tasty too.
Ever heard of Nathan Coulter-Nile?
Thought not. Although his Cricinfo profile points out he’s represented Australia, Australia A, Australia Under-19s, Fremantle, Mumbai Indians, Perth Scorchers, Western Australia, Western Australia Second XI, Western Australia Under-19s and Western Australia XI. Anyway, he’s the new face of Australian short-form cricket.
For once, Australia go into this tournament as outsiders; their recent demise is well documented, and this tournament is hardly their focus for 2013.
However, they are still Australia, and boast the likes of Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and his mirror and Tourettes Warner in their batting line-up. But there is an obvious and frequently exposed weak underbelly to the side and if ever there was an Australian destined for an early shower it is this lot. 65 and all that.
Ignore the last week; this is a better than average England ODI side, which is a statement that can be read either way.
Despite the fact that KP is missing the batting is strong and varied. Cook will bat his way out of this brief ODI slump, and the likes of Bell, Moargan, Buttler and Trott offer variety if nothing else.
The strength is in the bowling though, and the return of Finn, and associated ditching of the Jade Dernbach experiment, will act as a pretty handy surprise factor. Swann is as good spinner as there is on show, and it is interesting to see they have chosen to play in red in a World Championship at home
They know the conditions too.
Ah yes; New Zealand’s finest moment on the World Limited Overs stage. Victory in the 2000 ICC Knockout Trophy as it was known then. The aqua blue had replaced the dreadful mid-90s teal, Chris Cairns played his greatest ODI innings, David Trist knew how to celebrate, NZ opened with a twin left-arm pace attack of Allott and O’Connor, and Glen Sulzburger was in the winning squad.
And Sonny Shaw even made it onto TV shots before foreign electronic media outlets got the tap on the shoulder to say that wasn’t a great look.
That side entered that tournament on the back of an ODI series defeat in Zimbabwe, so if you take that logic to its extreme we’ve got no hope here.
But conventional logic says it is all about momentum so this side goes into the Champions Trophy well prepared. They have, after all, won away ODI series against South Africa and England in this calendar year. That is actually really impressive.
Progress in the bowling department is obvious, and the Big Four stepping up with the bat in the series in England sends out all good signs. There are probably some weak links in the squad, but there were in 2000 as well.
A favourable draw should see a Semi-final exit. That is not unusual.
Everyone’s ODI darlings are likely to struggle here for a couple of reasons.
Their batting is solid. Mahela Jayawardene, for example, has played 391 ODIs. Sangakkara has played 340. However, Malinga apart, it is the bowlers who are likely to suffer.
And England in June is not ideal conditions.