Champions Trophy Preview – England

Captain – Eoin Morgan

Dangerman – Jos Buttler

England’s wicket keeper was oddly below-par during their last ODI series away to India in January, but his form in one day international cricket on home turf has been sensational for some time now.  If England are to end their long wait for a 50-over competition victory, Buttler will have to fire.  Generally bats at number 6 (but is often thrown in further up depending on the situation), Buttler has scored the three fastest ODI hundreds for anyone wearing an England shirt.

Why they’re a Threat

England have surely the most settled line up in the competition; their top six is packed with genuine world class match-winners spearheaded by the brilliant Jason Roy and last summers’ record breaker Alex Hales (he past Robin Smith’s highest ever individual ODI score by an Englishman of 167 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge last August, scoring 171), and in Ben Stokes they have surely the world’s best all-rounder. Captain Eoin Morgan has led them from being at one of their lowest ever ebb after the 2015 World Cup into one of the most dynamic outfits in world cricket.

They are also the tournament hosts, which has served them well in the past (they reached the final in both the 2004 and 2013 editions on home soil), have won their last four ODI series at home, beating New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the process, and will be desperate to finally break their ICC 50-over tournament duck.

Achilles’ Heel

When it comes to the big pressure games, with the exception of the 2010 world T20 win led by an inspired Kevin Pietersen, England have always struggled to get over the line.

Home conditions will certainly favour their style of play, but it has also raised the level of expectations on Eoin Morgan’s men to unprecedented levels.  Can they live up to the hype that has built exponentially over the past two years?  England expects.

Last Time?

In 2013, despite being defeated by a brilliant 134 not out by Kumar Sangakkara against Sri Lanka in their second group match at the Oval, England progressed relatively smoothly through to the final at Edgbaston where they were beaten by either the weather or India, depending on your point-of-view.  The ICC, in their ultimate wisdom, had decided not to have a reserve day for the final in case of inclement weather.  In England.  Naturally, the rains came in Birmingham, and the match was just about squeezed into a twenty over contest – not an ideal scenario for an England side with a top three of Cook, Bell and Trott.

They still had victory within sight when they needed just 20 runs off the last 16 balls of the tournament with 6 wickets in hand to chase down the target of 130, but somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, their fifth defeat in major 50-over tournament finals.

Look out for Chances?

Mark Wood is back in the squad and England fans will be hoping to see his imaginary horse celebration regularly throughout the tournament.  His emergence as England’s only bowler with the sort of pace that will frighten the top batsman around the world means that his form and fitness will be under the microscope throughout the year with one eye on the Ashes in November; he is already being earmarked as a key factor to England’s chances.

Whether he’s worked on his Mexican Wave technique however remains to be seen (see the 4th Pakistan ODI in 2016).

Odds

3/1 (Favourites)

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