The squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa
The fixtures: June 2 v New Zealand, Edgbaston; June 5 v Bangladesh, The Oval; June 10 v England, Edgbaston
Best result: Winners – 2006, 2009
The talking point: MOU distractions aside, the main talking point is just who will make up the starting XI. There’s conjecture at almost every position, but in perhaps the best possible way, with a vast array of quality options for the National Selection Panel. Does Chris Lynn or Aaron Finch or even Travis Head partner David Warner at the top of the order? How many allrounders play? Will the ‘Big Four’ fast bowlers all get a start in the same side? Does the sole spinner, Adam Zampa, get a run? So many questions that will ultimately be answered when Steve Smith’s men take the field against New Zealand on June 2.
The one to watch: While there’s some uncertainty who will make up the top six, there’s no doubt about the selection of Mitchell Starc, if the big left-armer is fully fit. Starc is on the comeback trail after scans taken during the Qantas Tour of India revealed a fracture in his foot. He’s been on the mend and has been back bowling since before he left for the UK last week. At his best, there is no better white-ball bowler in the world than the lethal left-armer. He was crowned the 2015 World Cup player of the tournament for his astonishing 22 wickets in eight matches and possess perhaps the most lethal yorker in world cricket – just ask Brendon McCullum. If Starc can get the ball to swing in the English conditions he could be the most threatening speedster in the tournament and Australia’s trump card in a deck full of bowers.
The pressure is on: The selectors, to fit the ‘Big Four’ of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Patrick Cummins and James Pattinson in the same XI. It’s a mouth-watering prospect to have the blistering pace quartet on the paddock together, but one that is tricky on many levels. Firstly, playing those four doesn’t leave a lot of room for a spinner or a bowling allrounder, and makes the tail a long one, with no disrespect to the batting abilities of these men (well, Hazlewood is a No.11 in any team). Another aspect to consider is over rates. Four express quicks with four lengthy run-ups could mean a lot of time to bowl the overs, which impacts not only the team (with match fee fines) and captain Smith, who faces suspension if his team doesn’t complete their allotted overs in the allocated time more than once in a 12 month period. But, if two or three or all four fire, there’s no way the opposition team is batting out their 50 overs. So go on, NSP, pick them all!
Mike Hussey’s verdict: It’s nicely balanced squad. There are some exciting X-factor players there and some serious pace bowlers. You’ve got the guns being David Warner and Steve Smith but somebody like a Chris Lynn could be an X-factor if he gets going. I think Australia should definitely get through to the semi-finals at least.
Champions Trophy 2017 Guide
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.
Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.
26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval
27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston
28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval
29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston
30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston
30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval
1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)
2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)
3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)
4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)
5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)
6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)
7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)
8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)
9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)
10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)
11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)
12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)
14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)
15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)
18 June – Final, The Oval (D)
19 June – Reserve day (D)