June 4, 2013
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
The ICC Champions Trophy may not be as important around the world as the Cricket World Cup, but it's still a chance to see some of the world's top teams and players do battle in a competitive and fun tournament format.
This year's tournament features plenty of intrigue. Can England turn their home-field advantage into a title? Can India's players focus after a recent scandal has once again rocked the Indian Premier League? Can Australia win their third title in a row? Can South Africa come up clutch at a major tournament?
Questions, so many questions. Let's preview this edition of the ICC Champions Trophy.
When: Thursday, June 6 to Sunday, June 23
Where: Various locales in England (Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, Kennington Oval in London and Edgbaston in Birmingham)
Countries: India, South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies, England, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka
Format: Each team will play every other team in its group once, with a win being worth two points, a draw or no result being worth a single point and a loss zero points. The winner of Group A will play the runner-up in the first semifinal, while the winner of Group B will take on the runner-up of Group A in the second semifinal. Group play tiebreakers can be found here.
Past Winners: South Africa (1998), New Zealand (2000), India (2002, split title), Sri Lanka (2002, split title), West Indies (2004), Australia (2006 and 2009)
These teams come into the tournament as the top eight teams in the ICC's ODI rankings. Not surprisingly, India come in at No. 1, but the team isn't at its strongest for this tournament and the weight of scandal at home could be tough to overcome.
South Africa have plenty of talent, but they will also have plenty of talent missing, as Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith won't be available.
England may be at home and led by the talented Alastair Cook, but the team was humbled by New Zealand in the warm-ups and isn't exactly hitting this tournament in stride.
Then again, Australia were crushed by India in a warm-up of their own, so the Aussies will be looking to regain their form once the real tournament begins.
Meanwhile, New Zealand are never to be underestimated in one-day cricket or in major tournaments, while Pakistan have the talent to win this tournament. Sri Lanka and the West Indies may be overlooked by some, but each country has won this tournament in the past and is more than capable of shaking up its respective group.
It's really tough to bet against England at home, but Australia are the two-time repeating champions and New Zealand not only play better in one-day cricket, but they also have a knack for advancing in tournaments. Look for Australia to win Group A and New Zealand to advance.
Meanwhile, India may be embroiled in scandal and trotting out a younger and less experienced squad than normal, but it's hard to imagine them not advancing out of Group B. South Africa may not be at their strongest, but with realistic expectations and less pressure I expect them to shock some folks and win this group.
In the semifinals, look for Australia to advance to the final once again over India, while South Africa will knock out New Zealand. That will allow the South Africans the opportunity to erase their "chokers" label at major tournaments, but it will be a stronger Australian side that will end that fairy tale and secure a "threepeat."
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!