Australia are looking to maintain their dominance of the 50-over game in their bid to win the ICC Champions Trophy for a third time.
The Baggy Greens were victorious on home soil in the last major 50-over tournament, hammering New Zealand in the final to win the World Cup for a fifth time.
Steve Smith’s men now turn their attentions away from competing in the Indian Premier League as well as their county duties to focus on the task at hand.
Under the tenure of Smith they put forward a meek effort in the World Twenty20 last year, being eliminated in the Super 10 stage.
The Aussies have been inconsistent of late as they were whitewashed in their series against South Africa and lost 2-0 to New Zealand, although victories over Pakistan and Sri Lanka proved that there is more than enough quality for them to win the crown.
Smith showed his ability in guiding Rising Pune Supergiant to the final of the IPL, only to suffer the narrowest of defeats.
He along with his side will be aiming to carry Australia to another title, especially in the back yard of their bitter foes England.
We’ll now break down their chances for the ICC Champions Trophy with the latest betting odds.
With Smith installed at number three, Australia boast arguably the strongest line-up in the tournament. The 27-year-old has been a sensation over the last three years, racking up the runs with relative ease in all forms of the game.
If there was one criticism of his play – it was his ability to score a rapid-rate, but his performances in the IPL have seen him take that aspect of his game to a new level. As a result, there are few bowling attacks in the tournament that will feel comfortable with him at the crease.
Smith has the ability to bat through the innings and help accumulate runs – which should allow power hitters down the order to notch quick runs to maximise Australia’s totals. Allowing players such as Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell freedom will be vital as well easing the pressure on their relative inexperienced bowling attack by scoring high totals.
Should the Aussie skipper perform to his potential – there is no reason why they should not be competing in the latter stages of the competition.
David Warner’s presence at the top of the innings is a frightening prospect for all bowlers. The 30-year-old has been dispatching attacks around the park in the early stages with ease for the past five years.
There were fears that Australia would struggle to replace the power of Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden at the top, but Warner has been outstanding in the role.
If he is allowed to dominate at the top of the order – the Baggy Greens will be well placed for a run at the title. Therefore backing him at +225 with Betfair is a solid option to take.
Mitchell Starc has emerged as Australia’s star man with the ball and he proved to be a vital part of their success in the 2015 World Cup, winning the man of the tournament award.
The 27-year-old notched 22 wickets in the competition with his ability to bowl deadly yorkers at pace late in the innings.
He will have to become the leader of the attack given the relative inexperience of the bowling unit, with no other player boasting more than his 65 caps.
Starc has an incredible average of 19.88 in ODI cricket, with 129 wickets to his name. He will set the tone at the start of the innings – therefore it’s crucial that he fires to ease the pressure on his team-mates behind him, especially leg-spinner Adam Zampa.
It’s not easy being an Australian leg-spinner, with comparisons constantly made with the great Shane Warne. Zampa has shown promise during his career and earned a contract to play in the IPL, where he fared well enough under duress.
However, the tournament in England will provide different problems – where conditions will not be on his side.
The 25-year-old will be attacked and it will be vital that he keeps his economy rate within reason as the lack of variation in the rest of the attack could see the Baggy Greens concede a fair amount of runs.
There should be ample of opportunity for him rack up wickets given the high-scoring nature of 50-over cricket and he has to ensure that he capitalises. As a result, backing Zampa to lead the wicket column for Steve Smith’s men at +500 with PaddyPower is a prudent option.
Australia will have to negotiate a potentially tough group in their bid to reach the latter stages of the tournament with England and New Zealand in Group A.
Therefore Smith and his side will have to be ready from the off, with both of those outfits capable of advancing ahead of the Aussies in first place.
The Baggy Greens’ skipper at least should be in solid form given his exploits at the IPL and he will be determined to put in a strong showing to get his team over the line after narrowly missing out with Rising Pune Supergiant.
Depth in quality will be Australia’s issue in the tournament. Starc, Warner and Smith are quality operators, but beyond them there are questions marks whether the rest of the squad has the talent to compete in the latter stages.
The batting line-up is a concern and will rely on the experienced duo at the top to fire. Aaron Finch has blasted England around the park before, but he has had issues with consistency in 50-over cricket, while Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques have had the same problems.
Chris Lynn and Head have talent, but whether they can be relied upon to deliver at a major tournament in unfamiliar conditions.
Head could be the x-factor in the team and had a solid time in the IPL with Royal Challengers Bangalore. He could be the man to ease the pressure on Warner and Smith should the pair fail to find their form.
Outside of Starc there is a lot of uncertainty in the bowling attack. James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have talent, but all have had issues with injuries and consistency.
Hazlewood will be expected to thrive in English conditions, although he was far from convincing in his last appearance in the country.
Cummins led the way with the ball during their ODI series against the Three Lions in 2015, although his injury issues always raise question marks, while Pattinson is in a similar situation.
Starc will hold the key along with the form of Zampa with the option of his leg-spin. The loss of Mitchell Marsh could be costly as his change of pace and all-round ability will be missed.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Australia’s squad, but their history of winning makes them an intriguing bet at +350 with Marathon Bet to secure the crown, while proceed with caution at taking them at +150 with Coral to win Group A in the early stages of the tournament.
Australia To Win ICC Champions Trophy
1st June – 18th June 2017
Australia To Win Group A ICC Champions Trophy
1st June – 10th June 2017
Adam Zampa To Be Australia’s Top Bowler
1st June – 18th June 2017
David Warner To Be Australia’s Top Batsman
1st June – 18th June 2017