Why England are the favourites for the Champions Trophy

Ed Nixon Roar Pro

By Ed Nixon, Ed Nixon is a Roar Pro

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    Is Ben Stokes really the greatest allrounder in the world? (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

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    As an Englishman, I am all too aware of the dangers of hyping up our national team ahead of a major sporting tournament.

    However, we are a month out from the start of the 2017 Champions Trophy and something feels slightly different. England are hot favourites, and for valid reasons.

    We’re playing at home. As the host nation, England will have the advantage of playing in their own conditions, where the pitches are green and the ball swings – ideal for the likes of David Willey and Chris Woakes.

    Having recently named their 15-man squad which only includes six players from their disastrous 2015 World Cup display, it shows just how far this side has come under Trevor Bayliss’ watch.

    Since the English summer of 2015, England have played a ‘no fear’ brand of cricket, resulting in two scores of over 400, once against New Zealand and the other against Pakistan.

    England’s main strength is their depth. Unbelievably, Jonny Bairstow, fresh from smashing 174 off just 113 balls in a recent Domestic One Day Cup game, is no guarantee to even be in the strongest XI.

    Bairstow, who is coming off a stellar 2016 Test season where he broke the England wicketkeeping record for both runs and dismissals in a calendar year, is regarded to be England’s third choice ODI keeper behind Jos Buttler and Sam Billings.

    Bairstow has expressed a desire to open the batting, something he has done for Yorkshire this season. This could be his only way into this squad at the expense of Alex Hales. But I’ll leave that to the selectors to decide.

    Jonny Bairstow

    The depth doesn’t stop there.

    There is no place in the 15-man squad for Middlesex quick Steven Finn – a man who has over 100 ODI wickets to his name, promising Northants batsman Ben Duckett and death bowling specialist Chris Jordan. A summary of just how strong this side is.

    The question is, how can England find the best way to utilise all this talent?

    Versatility is key in ODI cricket, and England have a bundle of it. They have batsman who can move around the line-up, bowlers who can perform in any game situation, and a legitimate allrounder who ties everything together.

    That allrounder goes by the name of Ben Stokes.

    Stokes is a once-in-a-generation sort of talent. He can justify his selection on his batting or bowling alone. The fact he can do both is just a bonus. As a player who plays all three formats of the game, Stokes has had to develop his game in recent times, and bring a stronger level of leadership to the table – something which has benefitted England greatly.

    Along with captain Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Joe Root, Stokes is part of a middle order that can chop and change depending on the game situation. This will be a major weapon for England.

    England's Ben Stokes walks

    On the bowling front it may seem the side lacks a genuine spearhead, and that argument could definitely be made. There is no James Anderson or Stuart Broad, who now only play Test cricket as a way of keeping their bodies in tip-top condition.

    However, Willey, Woakes and a combination of Jake Ball or Liam Plunkett, along with Ben Stokes, the leg-spin of Adil Rashid and off-spin of Moeen Ali provide England with enough firepower to skittle through any opposition line-up on a given day.

    BBL fans will know all too well the skill Willey holds with the new ball, after seeing him play for the Perth Scorchers the past two Aussie summers. Woakes and Punkett provide pace and bounce, while Ball has the quality and nerve to bowl at the death.

    Having won their past two home ODI series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan 3-0 and 4-1 respectively, Eoin Morgan’s side will be confident they have what it takes to claim a first Champions Trophy success.

    The talent is clearly there. It’s a question of whether England can make the most of this talent, something they have failed to do in the past.

    If I were a selector my team for the first game against Bangladesh would be as follows.

    1. Jason Roy
    2. Alex Hales
    3. Joe Root
    4. Eoin Morgan (c)
    5. Ben Stokes
    6. Jos Buttler (wk)
    7. Moeen Ali
    8. Chris Woakes
    9. Adil Rashid
    10. David Willey
    11. Jake Ball

    Yes, England will face some stern competition in their group as they will take on Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia, but with the depth of the team, coupled with the ‘X-Factor’ of Ben Stokes, this could be England’s year.

    Call me crazy, but I think we might just do it.

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    The Crowd Says (35)

    • May 7th 2017 @ 10:11am
      While we're at it said | May 7th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

      You’re crazy

    • Roar Guru

      May 7th 2017 @ 2:22pm
      Ryan H said | May 7th 2017 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

      Fair article, I think they will go pretty close and certainly a stronger chance to win the tournament than they have been in past ones. But favourites? Really? I’m not too sure I agree on that one. I’m not sure who could be stronger favourites outside the bracket of South Africa, Australia, NZ and India, but your point on playing at home is a very valid one, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they did go all the way.

      Heck if it wasn’t for a rush of blood and four sixes from Braithwaite, they would’ve claimed a world T20 last year too, and had a similar squad to this one.

      • Roar Pro

        May 7th 2017 @ 10:35pm
        Ed Nixon said | May 7th 2017 @ 10:35pm | ! Report

        Whatever happens it will be a fun tournament to watch. I predict some mammoth scores, with batsman being able to play their shots freely if they negotiate some early swing and movement with the white ball.

    • May 7th 2017 @ 2:28pm
      Ouch said | May 7th 2017 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

      Nope.
      Reckon the poms will struggle to get out of the group. NZ and Oz have far superior bowling attacks. Not one English bowler would make the kiwi or Aussie teams. Can’t speak for NZ but I doubt those English bowlers you mention would be the Oz top 10.
      As for Stokes; good test all rounder but in ODI’s he’s not the giant you make out.

      • Roar Pro

        May 7th 2017 @ 9:52pm
        Ed Nixon said | May 7th 2017 @ 9:52pm | ! Report

        As I said in the article, you can defiantly make the argument their is not strike bowler in this lineup, but they bowl as a unit.

        We have a left arm quick (Willey), right arm quicks (Ball, Woakes, Stokes), a leggie (Rashid) and off spinner (Ali). Not many teams have that balance.

        As for Australia and NZ. I believe Rashid is the best spinner out of that group. He is a wicket taker, and I would have him in my team over any combination of Zampa, Maxwell, Patel and Santner.

        The form Stokes has been in recently cannot be argued against. He has improved his ODI batting average from late teens to almost 40 in the past couple of years. Not to mention his bowling has come on leaps and bounds

        • May 8th 2017 @ 8:50am
          Targa said | May 8th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

          Rashid isn’t better than Ish Sodhi, who couldn’t make the NZ team, let alone Mitchell Santner

          • May 8th 2017 @ 10:00am
            Ouch said | May 8th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

            Rasid also has a worse average and strike rate than Adam Zampa. Sorry Ed, but he doesn’t make the cut imo.

    • May 7th 2017 @ 5:32pm
      davSA said | May 7th 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

      Australia , India , NZ , SA , England are the current favourites .. England clear favourite ? ……..No.

    • May 7th 2017 @ 6:07pm
      Andy said | May 7th 2017 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

      According to the betting England are favourites but not hot favourites, some have England at 3.75 with Australia and the other top teams within a dollar but most have England and Australia equal chance. I think realistically any of Australia, India, South Africa and England can win it with the the biggest advantages any team having over the other is how many guys in each team have a good series. Englands batting depth is ridiculous though. Though what the hell did Stokes do at the start of 2016 with his batting, goes from averaging 20 over the last 4 years to mid 40s.

      • May 7th 2017 @ 6:12pm
        Andy said | May 7th 2017 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

        Oh wait, nvm his bowling in 2016 wasnt great but his 2017 has improved alot.

      • Roar Pro

        May 7th 2017 @ 10:38pm
        Ed Nixon said | May 7th 2017 @ 10:38pm | ! Report

        I think current form and the fact they are at home makes England the team to beat.

        As for Stokes, he has just adopted the same batting approach the rest of the lineup has – no fear cricket.

    • May 7th 2017 @ 9:41pm
      David a Pom said | May 7th 2017 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

      Without a shadow of doubt. Overall, England are the best ODI team in the world.

      • May 7th 2017 @ 9:50pm
        Nudge said | May 7th 2017 @ 9:50pm | ! Report

        David a Pom is back. Gee didn’t you make an absolute goose of yourself with your predictiòns prior to the Aus India test series

      • May 8th 2017 @ 11:03am
        qwetzen said | May 8th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        Could you please explain why the ICC has them ranked 5th?

        Hint: The only side currently ranked above England that Eng has beaten in a series in the last two years is NZ. 3-2 in Pomgolia. Two years ago.

        Compelling form.

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